Dr Johann Rupert appointed Stellenbosch University’s Chancellor

Distinguished South African business leader and entrepreneur par excellence, Dr Johann Rupert, has been appointed as the fourteenth Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU) by an electoral college on Monday. His appointment follows the resignation of Dr Frederik van Zyl Slabbert earlier this year.

Professor Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, welcomed Dr Rupert’s appointment and said that it was an honour to have a person of his international stature, yet with firm roots in Stellenbosch, as Chancellor of the University.

The Chancellor is the ceremonial head of the University and is elected according to the Statute of the University. The Chancellor awards degrees in the name of the University at graduation ceremonies, and also performs other ceremonial duties. A Chancellor is appointed for five years, but his appointment may be extended for a second term in office.

Raised in Stellenbosch as the eldest son of the late South African business tycoon Anton Rupert, Johann Rupert studied Company Law and Economics at SU. He soon spread his wings and served his business apprenticeship in New York for five years, before returning to South Africa in 1979. During that year, he founded Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), and started the Small Business Development Corporation, which subsequently has created 500 000 jobs in South Africa.

Dr Rupert founded, merged and restructured various leading companies, and served in a leadership capacity in several institutions, ranging from the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns to the Daimler Chrysler International Advisory Board and Gold Fields South Africa. In 1984 he successfully presided over a merger between RMB and Rand Consolidated Investments before joining his father’s Rembrandt Group, of which he later became chairman. In 1988 he formed the Swiss-based luxury goods company Richemont, followed in 2000 by venture capital companies Remgro and Venfin. He also took ownership of the L’Ormarins wine estate from his late brother Antonij, and developed the farm in his honour.

Dr Rupert holds two honorary doctorate degrees, one in Economics from SU in 2004 and the other in Commerce from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), awared in 2008. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Wits Business School’s “Management Excellence Award” for 2009. His outstanding achievements in business leadership and his vision have earned him numerous other local and international awards. Amongst others, he was chosen three times as “Most Influential Leader in South Africa” by the top 100 listed companies in South Africa; elected as “Businessman of the Year” by the Sunday Times (twice), Die Burger and the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce respectively, and one of “200 Global leaders of Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This year he also received the “International Wine Entrepreneur of the Year” Award, presented in Dusseldorf, Germany.

A sports lover and former cricketer, Dr Rupert is co-founder of the Sports Science Institute at the University of Cape Town. He also played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which funds 65 projects globally, and benefits underprivileged children. He serves as chairman of the South African PGA Tour and the South African Golf Development Board.