27 March 2018 Photo Thabo Kessah
Afromontane Research Unit welcomes new Director
Newly-appointed Afromontane Research Unit Director, Dr Vincent Clark.

The newly-appointed Director of the Afromontane Research Unit (ARU) on the Qwaqwa Campus, Dr Vincent Clark, is a true believer in risk-taking as a way of improving one’s life.

“Taking risks grows one’s confidence and experience, and at the right time the right door will open,” he asserts.

Dr Clark has his foundation in Geography and Botany; in 1998, he graduated with a BSc degree majoring in these two subjects, and he also has an Honours degree (1999) in Geography and Environmental Management; both degrees were obtained at the University of Johannesburg (the then Rand Afrikaans University).
 
“Then in 2010, I graduated with a PhD in Phytogeography at Rhodes University.  My PhD was followed up by several postdoctoral fellowships from Rhodes University and one at the University of Zürich between 2010 and 2016. I was privileged to become a lead academic in Professor Nigel Barker’s Great Escarpment Biodiversity Research Programme,” said Dr Clark, who is currently enjoying a good read of John Hunt’s The Ascent of Everest and Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby.

He envisions the ARU as the continental leader in African mountain research, with an immediate focus on the sustainable development of the Maloti-Drakensberg.
 
“My immediate plans for the ARU team are to grow a strong network of between 60 odd researchers and postgraduates, and to connect them with the regional mountain-research community. Short-term plans include fostering stronger ARU links with the Swiss mountain-research community, encouraging the Japan collaboration, and an ARU-hosted Regional Mountain Conference.”

 “Longer-term plans are to develop the ARU into the leading African mountain-research group and for the ARU to become a leading South-based agent informing the global mountain-research arena,” he added.

Dr Clark has very strong words for the academia. “Academia must always guard against becoming a community of ‘yes men’ for external political or social agendas. As academics, we have a duty to discover and present the truth, regardless of how unpopular that might be. We are in serious danger of losing our academic mandate when we simply become a rubber stamp for untested politically-correct assumptions and agendas. If we ever needed bold academics to expose the plethora of ‘Emperors New Clothing’ currently on parade, it’s today.”

This family man and father of a one-year old son, loves the outdoor life. His hobbies include birding, hiking, swimming, surfing, and reading Louis L’Amour and Hammond Innes.