- Norris says Seretse understands the landscape of higher education
- Former BCP women’s leader Bathusi sees the appointment as a political reward
- Seretse commands sterling academic credentials
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana, Professor David Norris, says the newly appointed Chancellor, Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, has the experience, skills, enthusiasm and energy to advance the university’s national and international interests.
“A University Chancellor plays an important ambassadorial role for the University. He/she acts as a Chief Representative/Advocate for a university, playing these major functions: mobilizing resources for the university, raising the university’s profile,” Professor Norris said in an interview with The Botswana Gazette this week.
Norris added that Seretse fully understands the landscape of higher education and new trends in higher education, particularly with regards to research and innovation. “What I also found exciting is her belief in an ‘engaged’ university,” he noted. “I preach university engagement with society at all times; the importance of a university that is relevant to society.”
However, Daisy Bathusi, who is a former president of the Women’s League of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), has characterized Seretse’s appointment as a reward for her contribution to the Botswana Democratic Party in the lead-up to the last general elections in 2019, “which is the norm nowadays,” she added. “But I am okay with the appointment as she has the requisite qualifications for the job.”
Bathusi pointed out that Seretse was the campaign manager for President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s BDP that emerged victorious; her appointment as Chancellor of UB is thus “payback time,” she said.
Meanwhile, the new chancellor directed questions to the university management stating that he role is more ceremonial that administrative. She was named Chancellor of Botswana’s largest institute of higher learning on Thursday last week (16 September). Her predecessor was Linah Mohohlo, who passed away in early June this year.
Seretse was the first woman to be appointed Botswana’s Ambassador to the United States, an eminent diplomatic post that she held from 2010 to 2014. Seretse was a MP (Member of Parliament) from 1999 to 2004, a period during which she also held three cabinet positions at different times, namely that of Acting Minister of Presidential Affairs, Minister of Trade and Industry, Minister of Wildlife and Tourism and Minister of Works, Transport and Communications.
She says as Acting Minister of Presidential Affairs, she initiated the enlisting of women in the Botswana Defence Force and negotiated a Partnership Agreement with the United States to start to start the International Law Enforcement Agency (ILEA) in Botswana. One of the objectives of ILEA is to train the police to fight various forms of crime not only in Botswana (where it is based in Otse) but in the southern African region as well.
According to her academic profile, she acquired two undergraduate degrees in four years, a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1978. Thereafter, she completed a Master of Arts in Economics from University of Cincinnati in Ohio in 1981. She later studied law at the University of Botswana where she obtained her LLB degree in 1995.
Throughout her academic career, she has taught part-time at UB and taught first year undergraduate students at the University of Cincinnati. Seretse has examined and written on Excess Liquidity in the Banking System, a phenomenon which was rare in Botswana that saw the Bank of Botswana become a deposit taker of last resort.
Seretse says her achievements and dedication to service have been recognized by several organizations and universities, which led to her being awarded four honourary doctorates: two in Public Service from Ohio University (2014) and the University of Cincinnati (2014), one in Doctor of Laws from Morgan State University (2012) and another in Doctor of Human Letters from St. George’s University (2012).
Seretse has spoken at numerous conferences and delivered lectures at universities, including at Morgan State University, the University of Cincinnati, Howard University, the University of Syracuse, George Washington University and Boston University. She has participated in several round table discussions and presentations such as the Council on Foreign Relations.