Nurturing the next generation of leaders

7 Sep 2021 - 10:30

The Klaus-Jürgen Bathe Leadership Programme was established at the University of Cape Town in 2014, through a gift donated by Professor Klaus-Jürgen Bathe of Massachusetts (USA). The primary goal of the programme is to produce graduates with outstanding leadership qualities and a strong sense of social justice, who will go on to play leading and significant roles in business, government, industry and civil society in South Africa and on the African continent.

The birth of a vision

It all began in 2013 when Klaus- Jürgen Bathe, world-renowned mechanical engineering professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was visiting Cape Town and had a conversation over dinner with his long-time friend Alphose Zingoni, professor of structural engineering and mechanics at the University of Cape Town. The conversation shifted from matters of engineering to problems faced by South Africa and the continent, and how to solve these. The region held much potential. A vision of a prosperous African continent emerged, but it became clear that good leadership was needed to steer the continent towards that goal. The region needed a critical mass of talented and energetic leaders with a strong commitment to serving others, eradicating poverty, and achieving prosperity for all.

Thus, the idea of a leadership programme at the University of Cape Town was born. In early 2014, Professor Bathe made a generous donation to the University of Cape Town for the purposes of establishing a leadership programme, and Professor Zingoni was appointed its director to oversee the implementation. When the first call for applications was made in June of that year, the response was tremendous, with over 300 applications received from across all six faculties of UCT. It was clear that students were very excited about the programme, which augured well for its future. After a rigorous selection process, sixteen exceptional students were selected to become the first cohort of Klaus-Jürgen Bathe Leadership Scholars. The programme was formally launched by Dr Max Price (the then Vice-Chancellor of UCT) on 20 November 2014 as the first of its kind in South Africa.


Growing Future Ethical Leaders

The programme ethos espoused in its selection of KJB scholars, is particularly focused on young future leaders who hold leadership values which are hard to find in the world today: dedication, altruism, humbleness, justice, and passion for helping others (a sense of community).

KJB Programme Induction Dinner, February 2019

After the successful launch of the programme in 2015, the programme grew exponentially and by 2019, the programme had awarded 61 scholarships.  The programme continues to nurture ethical leaders year on year.

Click here to find out more about the programme