Prof P (Puleng) LenkaBula
Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs, and Community Engagement

Prof Puleng LenkaBula

Prof Puleng LenkaBula is the Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs, and Community Engagement at the University of the Free State (UFS). She is the former Dean of Student Affairs at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), where she was a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s office (VCO) and the Senior Executive Team. She was the executive in charge of Student Governance, Campus Health, Campus Housing and Residence Life, the Careers Counselling and Development Unit (CCDU), Wits Sport, and the Development and Leadership Unit (DLU).

LenkaBula is a South African of Lesotho descent. She holds a Doctorate (2006/7) in Ethics (Theology and Philosophy) with specialisation in Ethics of the Economy, Ecology and Politics (Social Ethics) from the University of South Africa. Her doctoral thesis deployed multi-disciplinary approaches, drawing from ethics, legal and economic questions. The title of her thesis was: Bioprospecting and Intellectual Property rights on African Plant Commons and Knowledge: A New form of Colonization viewed from an Ethical Perspective.
She gained a master’s degree (MTS) with specialisation in Social Ethics from St Andrew’s College at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, in 1995. The masters’ dissertation undertook to study the ethical implications of multilateral finance and financing institutions on economies and economic policies in Africa. Her thesis was titled, I am because we are: An African Womanist Reflection on the Structural Adjustment programs of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Her junior degree was a Bachelor of Education with three majors in English, Theology, and Education, conferred by the National University of Lesotho.
Professor LenkaBula has previously held management positions at different institutions, including the University of South Africa where she worked as the Dean of Student Affairs (2014 to 2016). At Unisa, she was responsible for managing Student Governance, Student Social Development, and the Advocacy and Resource Centre for Student with Disabilities. She participated in a variety of committees within the university.

From 2011 to 2014, she held a position as Advisor to the University of South Africa’s (UNISA) Principal and Vice-Chancellor and Director in the office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor. Her responsibilities, inter alia, entailed the following: key leadership of UNISA’s efforts at advancing African intellectuals, knowledge systems and Africa’s futures, aligning UNISA’s institutional mandate to the national development trajectory and international competitiveness of the university, cultivation of innovative partnerships, especially with the corporate sector for research partnerships aimed especially at yielding a prospective intellectual-property footprint and centring ethics at the pulse of the university.
In addition, she developed innovative projects such as DIPLOspeak sessions and the strategic programming and development of growing a cohort of African intellectuals to facilitate UNISA’s engagement in international relations with the diplomatic corps in an attempt to advance UNISA as a contextually grounded but globally competitive university in the service of humanity.
LenkaBula’s strength lies in her ability to traverse disciplinary parameters, research, and stakeholder cultivation and development.  She also has a wide local and global footprint, which has led to her acting as a board member in premier academic and global institutions, including the Council for the Development of Social Sciences Research in Africa, which was ranked as No 1 think tank in 2016.
Her research interests are intersections of ethics, political economy, ecology, and feminist theory, particularly on the themes: a) justice, b) intellectual property rights on life forms and implications on ecology and society; c) ethical questions on the economy, particularly on bioprospecting and IP issues on life forms; d) feminist political/ethical thought.
She has published widely; more than 25 articles in refereed local and international academic journals, including a commissioned book by the World Communion of Reformed Churches, Choose Life, Act in Hope, a collaborative book with Dr Dibeela and Prof Vellem on the Prophet of the South. This book entailed articles from globally renowned intellectuals in ethics, including former President Obama’s mentor, Rev Dr Jeremiah Right, the founder and father of Black Theology, Prof James Cones, and many more.
LenkaBula is a board member of local and international ecumenical and academic formations.  She is a member of the executive committee of the Council for the Development of Social Sciences Research in Africa (CODESRIA); a former Deputy President of the South African Council of Churches, Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation, Transparency International – South Africa Branch, and Focus on Youth.
She has also consulted for local and international institutions, including a position as an expert adviser for the former World Alliance of Reformed Churches – now the World Communion of Reformed Churches – on the Economy and Earth process (early discussions on climate change, financial architecture for the world economy and covenanting for justice. She is a member of the World Council of Churches Expert group on ‘Poverty, Wealth and Ecology’.
Prof LenkaBula has read and presented academic papers in numerous places and some of her highlights are:

• The World Summit on Sustainable Development — the Civil Society Section in Johannesburg, South Africa in August/ September 2002; 
• The United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women — Civil Society Programme on ‘Financing for Development Agenda’ — Review of the Monterrey Consensus in 2008 in New York, USA (refer to some comments by participants on (;  
• The joint Africa-European Union Strategic Partnership Policy Conference at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2009 (refer to
She was also a keynote speaker at the Geneva Conference on the intersections of Technology, Economy and Ethics/Theology (biotechnologies in particular) in the 21st century for the Central Committee meeting of the World Council of Churches in 2006. The Central Committee is the highest gathering and decision-making body of the WCC.
In the past, LenkaBula has provided advisory services on ethics and governance to globally renowned international organisations such as Globethics, Council for World Mission, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the World Council of Churches, South African Council of Churches, and Ecumenical Services for Economic Transformation. She has also engaged with high-profile families and individuals on corporate citizenship, governance, and social justice. In order to ensure that her academic and intellectual work are in concert with her academic work, LenkaBula has continued to engage with other universities, including visiting scholarships at Vasteras, Sweden, and the University of Toronto, among others.

Prof LenkaBula is committed to knowledge production, innovation, and the advancing of socio-economic development in South Africa, Africa, and the world, in particular for the benefit of Africa. She has executive management experience in the education sector, which she believes, can or is transferrable to the corporate sector or industry. 

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