HEARD, Humanities bid farewell to Prof Whiteside
The Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) recently hosted a farewell function for its Executive Director, Prof Alan Whiteside.
An emotional Prof Whiteside reminisced about the relationships he has created over the years and about how the Division has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception 1998.
Prof Whiteside said if one was going to have a legacy, one would have to leave, “because until you leave it’s not a legacy”.
“The thing that has defined my work is HIV and Aids and I started working on that in 1987 which is 26 years ago and the reason I started working on it was because I was working on labour migration and I realised that actually HIV was going to be absolutely critical for migrants. By 1990 most of what I was doing was working on HIV and Aids and looking at it and looking at the consequences that it was likely to have for our society,” said Whiteside.
“I want to say a big thank you to the people who encouraged the establishment of Heard and enabled it to flourish, especially in the early days. You’ve allowed us to grow. I want to say thank you to the people who’ve believed in the vision and supported us with money and staff and all sorts of things. I want to say thank you to all the staff. I want to say thank you to HEARD because it is a remarkable organisation and it has gone from strength to strength.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Prof Cheryl Potgieter, who was acting on behalf of the DVC and Head of the College of Law and Management Studies, Prof John Mubangizi, paid tribute to Prof Whiteside’s contribution in changing the country’s HIV and Aids landscape.
Like the many who attended the function, Prof Potgieter shared many of her fond memories of Prof Whiteside.
“I joined UKZN at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009 as the University Dean of Research and I was in office for about 4 days and the most fantastic bouquet arrived at my desk and it was from the Director of HEARD, Alan Whiteside and I thought UKZN was a really wonderful place if this was the way people interact and make you feel welcome,” reminisced Prof Potgieter.
“Alan is much more than Alan the academic. He’s a people’s person and engages people in a range of ways. I believe that people make spaces and Alan has made HEARD what it is, not only in terms of the funding that he has brought in to make the institute what it is today. He has created and I use the word family in a very positive way. The relationship with Alan will continue globally where Alan puts his foot down. The director has big shoes to fit in to,” she said.
HEARD Operations Director, Samuel Gormley, thanked Prof Whiteside for the support he has given him and the Division over the years. He also thanked him for being a great leader and inspiration.
“I know we’ve had some trying times over the last few years, we’ve had a lot of changes over the last few years, but you have always supported me and I do appreciate it. So thank you for your leadership, for the honesty that you’ve always shown and most of all I thank you for your friendship.”
Prof Whiteside leaves UKZN to take up a post as CIGI Chair in Global Health Policy at the Balsillie School of International Affairs/Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada.