UCT presented one honorary degree in August 2008, and two in December 2008.
Professor Jonathan Dorfan was presented with an honorary doctorate in science. He obtained a BSc degree in physics and applied mathematics from UCT in 1969, and later obtained a PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of California.
He joined the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (SLAC) as a postdoc, and two years later as a staff scientist. He was promoted to associate professor in 1984, full professor in 1989, and associate director in 1994. As SLAC director, Dorfan managed the most important transition in the history of the laboratory. Traditionally a single-purpose particle physics research centre, SLAC has become a multi-programme laboratory.
Claire Palley received an honorary doctorate in law. A South African, Palley was the first woman to become a law professor in the United Kingdom and the dean of a law school. She graduated with an LLB from UCT in 1952. In 1965 she obtained her PhD from the University of London. She has an MA from the University of Oxford (1984) and an LLD (honoris causa) from Queen's University, Belfast.
She began her academic career as a lecturer in law at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Palley moved on to a distinguished career as a scholar. Between 1971 and 1973 she was dean of the Faculty of Law at Queen's University. In 1974 she became master of Darwin College, University of Kent at Canterbury, and from 1984 to 1991 was the principal of St Anne's College, Oxford. She pioneered the way for women in academic law in a profession known for its conservatism.
In August 2008 UCT awarded an honorary degree to the late Professor Archie Mafeje for his achievements as one of Africa's greatest social scientists and to celebrate his huge intellectual contribution to emancipation in Africa.
Mafeje began his studies at Fort Hare and completed a BSc at UCT in 1959. His political activism led him to switch from the natural sciences to the social sciences, and he gained an MA in social anthropology at UCT in 1965 (cum laude).
He was studying for a PhD at Cambridge University in England when in May 1968 the UCT Council unanimously approved his appointment as a senior lecturer in Social Anthropology. A month later, after pressure from the apartheid government, Council withdrew the appointment, and made known "its future inability to appoint non-white persons to academic posts, unless allowed to do so in special circumstances."
This decision was met by vehement protest from UCT student leaders and a number of academic staff. In August 1968, about 600 students began an occupation of Bremner Building, which lasted for 9 days, demanding that the UCT Council reconsider its decision to withdraw Mafeje's appointment. Instead, Council agreed to establish an Academic Freedom Research Award in honour of Mafeje and placed a plaque in the library recording that the government had taken away its right to appoint lecturers at its own discretion.
UCT awarded one honorary degree in May 2008, and three at the graduation ceremony on 13 June 2008.
Advocate George Bizos received an honorary doctorate in law. He acted as an advocate in the 1950s for Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo's law firm, and had a part in all the major trials of the 50-year-long struggle against apartheid. He is credited with helping craft Mandela's impassioned plea to the court during the famous Rivonia Trial, said to have swayed the judge from passing the death sentence on Mandela.
Dr Lillian Cingo received an honorary doctorate in social sciences. Born in 1938, she is a dedicated health professional who has integrated her vocation in nursing with an ever-increasing focus on development among, especially, isolated communities.
Dr Eric Goemaere received an honorary doctorate in medical science. Among his many achievements, Goemaere initiated the first comprehensive HIV treatment programme in the primary care public health sector in Khayelitsha, funded by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), through which he forged strong links with UCT.
Lord Leonard Wolfson was awarded an honorary doctorate in science in London on 14 May 2008. Lord Wolfson is the founding trustee and current Chairman of the Wolfson Foundation which was founded in the United Kingdom in 1955.
Through the Foundation, he has had a significant impact in supporting areas of higher education, and medical and scientific research in the United Kingdom, Israel and South Africa.