In December 2011 UCT awarded two honorary doctorates to Mary Burton and Dr David Potter.
Mary Burton was awarded an honorary doctorate in social science. Burton was involved first in the struggle for human rights in South Africa, then in national reconciliation in the post-apartheid era. She was president of the Black Sash from 1986 to 1990. She also served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a commissioner on the Human Rights Violations Committee, from 1995 to 1998. Burton also served two terms on the UCT Council, including as deputy chair from 1999 to 2005. In 2003, she received the Order of Luthuli (Silver) from President Thabo Mbeki. The following year she received the Western Cape's highest award, the Order of Disa, and the Reconciliation Award, conferred by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.
Dr David Potter was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering science. Potter has been hailed as a great inventor and entrepreneur, but also as a philanthropist who has supported higher education in South Africa. In 2001 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers. He is a well-known name among UCT's postgraduates for the David and Elaine Potter Fellowships, which he and his wife established through their David and Elaine Potter Foundation, giving an opportunity to motivated and academically excellent individuals to use their education for the betterment of South Africa and civil society.
UCT awarded two honorary doctorates during the June 2011 Graduation ceremonies.
Stella Petersen received an honorary doctorate in education. She completed a BSc in botany and zoology, an MSc in science, a senior teaching diploma and a BEd degree at UCT over the early to mid-1940s. Her academic achievements won her a prestigious international educational fellowship to the US, where she became the first South African to study at Syracuse University in New York, earning a master's in education in 1949. Petersen has been described as a deeply revered and respected community figure, and was renowned for her dedication as a teacher, and the high standards she set her learners.
Emeritus Professor Martin West was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature, in particular for his role in the university's governance and transformation during a turbulent period of transition. West retired from UCT in 2008 after serving with distinction for 17 years as a deputy vice-chancellor, and later as vice-principal. He served under four vice-chancellors, and made vital contributions to changing governance at UCT during the first decade of a democratic South Africa.