As of 1 November 2018, the University of Pretoria Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development have a new HoD and a female HoD, at that. Prior to the above-mentioned appointment, Prof. Sheryl Hendriks held a professorship in the department which she now leads and is no stranger to excellence, despite the fact that agriculture and its related fields are still male-dominated. From 2012 to 2014 she was the president of the South African Agricultural Economics Association, and in 2018 she received the FR Tomlinson Commemorative Medal for service to the profession. To many of her colleagues, she is perceived as the modern day Joan of Agriculture.
Prof. Hendriks holds a PhD in agriculture from the former University of Natal. Her research focusses on food security policy analysis and impact assessment, with her work widely published in high impact international journals. She has a significant network of professionals in food security and policy design locally, regionally and internationally where she actively engages in high-level global food security policy think tanks and panels. She is a respected and highly influential researcher and leader in food security and nutrition policy circles in Africa. Her vision for the department is to be ranked and recognised as the leading department in terms of the economics and social sciences related to food, agriculture and natural resource economics research, teaching and public engagement in Africa, and a partner of choice for international partners working in Africa.
Prof. Hendriks’ agenda to position the department as the leading department includes transformation on at least three levels. Firstly, transformation articulated in the South African sense regarding the demographics of staff and student bodies; secondly the South African and African agricultural transformation agenda through research and teaching; and thirdly the transformation of the research culture into an engaged research-intensive endeavour, connected to stakeholders and driven by innovation, salience, relevance and social impact will be actively pursued.
The staff and students at the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development are excited for this new and exciting life cycle that they are entering, and they are confident in Prof. Hendriks’ abilities to lead them to the next level of excellence in true Joan of Arc style. – Melissa van der Merwe and Marlene Louw, UP