University of Delaware
Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo (left) with University of Delaware President Patrick Harker.

South African leader

Alumus credits University of Delaware for leadership training


8:59 a.m., March 20, 2012--Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo recently returned from his native South Africa to the University of Delaware to pay a visit to his alma mater. 

Vil-Nkomo originally began his journey at UD in the former College of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, where he received a master's degree in 1983 and a doctorate in 1985.

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Today, he is executive director of the University of Pretoria and a founding member and chairman of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA), a newly established think-tank. 

Vil-Nkomo calls the formation of the institute “an example of what I learned from seminars and brown-bag discussions involving professors, students and individuals from the private and public sectors at the University of Delaware. Studying and holding a Ph.D. means that you are continuously searching for new knowledge (epistemology) and solutions to development challenges.”

In 1992, Vil-Nkomo returned to South Africa to teach at several universities and later became professor and dean of the faculty of economic and management sciences at the University of Pretoria. Currently, he is a Fulbright Research Fellow at Fordham University. 

“The experience at the University of Delaware grounded me in the philosophical and practical understanding of education using research, quantitative, qualitative, and economic and policy analysis,” he says. “My leadership skills were also enhanced. All of these made it possible for me to take up key positions in South Africa and continue to do so.” 

On his one-day trip to UD, Vil-Nkomo had the opportunity to meet with UD President Patrick Harker, Institute for Global Studies Director Matthew Robinson and a number of former colleagues. He was accompanied by Percy Wilson, a founding member of the Corporate Council on Africa and a former CEO of Coca-Cola Africa. 

In 1994, Vil-Nkomo was appointed public service commissioner by South African President Nelson Mandela after the first democratic elections in South Africa. 

Vil-Nkomo is the recipient of the 1996 Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement from the University of Delaware and the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  

Article by Fariba Amini

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