Professor Mandlenkosi Stanley Makhanya became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Unisa in 2011.


Makhanya was born in Durban and attended high school in Amanzimtoti. Although his anti-apartheid activism interrupted his studies, he went on to earn increasingly higher degrees in sociology at the universities of Fort Hare, Natal and Pretoria. He joined Unisa in 1989 and rose steadily to a series of senior positions. During his candidacy for appointment as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Unisa, Makhanya called for a new culture of “servant leadership”, wherein commitment to serving students and colleagues would become paramount. During his tenure, he has pursued this service-centric vision with zeal; he has tackled perceptions of Unisa as an administration-heavy institution, redesigned management portfolios and embedded new institutional values, including a rigorous and ongoing ethics audit. He has continued his work as an innovative scholar in distance education, always seeking to ensure that virtual technologies do not depersonalise the e-learning experience. He has also advanced the work of his predecessor, Professor Barney Pityana, in building “not just a South African university, but an African university”.