A legacy of research excellence:
Professor Sue Harrison, UCT’s deputy vice-chancellor for research
and internationalisation, pays tribute to Dr Marilet Sienaert,
who is retiring at the end of this year
Marilet Sienaert,
executive director of
the UCT Research
Office, has been
a key part of
researchers’ lives
at UCT for some
20 years. Certainly,
my research career
has been facilitated and
impacted through Marilet’s dedication
and innovation in her management of
the Research Office during that time.
The Research Office, as we know it at
UCT, has been built by Marilet and her
team, under the guidance of a series
of deputy vice-chancellors (DVCs).
The six permanent DVCs, plus several
acting DVCs, are proof of the length of
her involvement in research at UCT.
As a researcher, my experience of
Marilet’s contribution to UCT research
is framed by her ongoing dedication
to making the lives of researchers and
the quality of their research better
and better. Marilet has an amazing
propensity to guide and inspire
researchers, to lead them through the
processes and admin (that is not a
strength of many researchers), and to
give time to them freely in her overbusy portfolio. Mostly, Marilet cares for
our success – of each and every one
– which is enabling. Not only is her
personal interaction exceptional, but
Marilet has an eye for processes and
systems, for innovations and for new
opportunities. Her can-do attitude is
something that UCT researchers value.
By moving into the role of DVC
Research and Internationalisation,
my understanding of Marilet has
grown to unearth – even further – her
understanding of the over-arching
research arena at UCT and across the
country. I have also come to appreciate
her exceptional ability to interact with
the deep detail of this system and its
continual improvement, while at the
same time taking a helicopter view to
guide the holistic, systemic changes
needed, or to defend the key gems
that are critical to its success.
With these attributes, Marilet has
been an amazing support to me in
taking on the role of DVC.
In closing, UCT has been
incredibly fortunate to have
had Marilet at the helm of its
research management. Her
contribution has been immense,
and we thank her for it.
Marilet, we wish you well in
the next phase of your life,
and we know that you will
continue to work actively for
the betterment of academic
research in South Africa for
some while yet, sharing your
immense wisdom in this field.


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