26 November 2021 | Story Lacea Loader | Photo Sonia Small (Kaleidoscope Studios)
Prof Philippe Burger
Prof Philippe Burger.

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) approved the appointment of Prof Philippe Burger as Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences for a five-year term during its quarterly virtual meeting on 26 November 2021. 

He is Pro-Vice-Chancellor: Poverty, Inequality and Economic Development, as well as Vice-Dean (Strategic Projects) of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, and Professor of Economics at the UFS. 

Extensive experience

Prof Burger was a 2016/17 Fulbright exchange scholar at the Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University in the United States, with Prof Jeffrey Sachs as his Fulbright host, where he wrote a book titled Getting it right: a new economy for South Africa. The book was launched, with presentations at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and RAND Corporation in Washington DC, among others. In addition, he is a member of the Fiscal Policy and Financial Markets Task Team of the Lancet Commission on COVID-19. Co-chaired by the Head of the IMF’s Department of Fiscal Affairs and a former Minister of Finance of Chile, the task team of 11 members comprises economists from across the world, including two Nobel prize winners. 

From September 2012 to October 2014, Prof Burger was President of the Economic Society of South Africa. His publications include three more books and numerous academic articles on fiscal rules and fiscal sustainability, public-private partnerships, and macroeconomic and economic development policy. Together with IMF staff, he co-authored two IMF working papers. In 2009, the IMF invited him to spend a month at the IMF as a visiting scholar in the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD), researching public-private partnerships and the Global Financial Crisis. For two months each in 2007, 2010, and 2012, he was seconded to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France, to work on public-private partnerships and capital budgeting, while in October 2011 he joined an OECD mission to Indonesia to conduct a regulatory review of Indonesia. 

Prof Burger was a member of the Panel of Experts of the South African National Treasury, in which capacity he co-authored a 20-year review of South African fiscal policy since 1994. From 2013 to 2018, he was a member of the South African Statistics Council, which oversees the work of Statistics South Africa. From 1 February 2018 to 31 January 2019, he acted as dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the UFS, and from 2002 to 2019 he was Head of the UFS Department of Economics. 

“With more than 27 years of experience in the higher-education sector, Prof Burger will bring a wealth of expertise, extensive networks, and partnerships, nationally and abroad, to the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences and the UFS. His experience in the positions held at the university, as well as his extensive knowledge and understanding of the South African and global economy, places him in good standing to lead the faculty to be a formidable and impactful academic force nationally and abroad,” said Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor. 

“Prof Burger has the competencies required as dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, leading it to exploit opportunities and deal with the challenges that the rapidly changing world presents to the UFS,” said Prof Petersen.  

Vision for the faculty

In response to his appointment, Prof Burger said, “I am humbled by this appointment and look forward to taking on this wonderful challenge. The faculty has a strong team of academics and administrative staff. With this team, I know we will create wonderful pathways for our students into the future and into the complex world of work. I also look forward to strengthening our research position and building the faculty as a nationally and internationally recognised research-strong faculty, as well as a faculty with a very strong Global South presence.”

Prof Burger succeeds the current Dean, Prof Hendri Kroukamp, who will be retiring at the end of February 2022.  

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