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Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of the Witwatersrand

Professor Adam Habib is the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and incoming Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

He is an academic, researcher, activist, administrator, and well-known public intellectual. A Professor of Political Science, Habib has over 30 years of academic, research and administration expertise, spanning five universities and multiple local and international institutions. His professional involvement in institutions has always been defined by three distinct engagements: the contest of ideas, their translation into actionable initiatives, and the building of institutions.

Professor Habib is a former Chair of Universities South Africa, which represents vice-chancellors and higher education in the country. He has also focussed on building African research excellence and co-founded the African Research Universities Alliance.

Transformation, democracy and inclusive development are fundamental themes of his research. Habib’s book South Africa’s Suspended Revolution: Hopes and Prospects, has informed debates around the country’s transition into democracy. His latest book, Rebels and Rage: Reflecting on #FeesMustFall, provides an insight into the recent student protests in South Africa from the position of a vice-chancellor and social scientist.

Habib’s contributions resulted in his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in addition to serving as a fellow of both the African Academy of Science and the Academy of Science of South Africa. He also currently serves on the Council of the United Nations University.


  • –present
    Founding director, Centre for Civil Society, University of Kwazulu-Natal.
  • 2013–present
    Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of the Witwatersrand
  • 2007–2013
    Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and Advancement, University of Johannesburg
  • 2004–2007
    Executive Director, Democracy and Governance Programme of the Human Science Research Council
  • 2001–2003
    Professor of the School of Development Studies , University of Natal


    University of Kwazulu Natal, Bachelor of Arts
    University of Kwazulu Natal, Master of Arts
    University of Witwatersrand, Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
    Graduate School of the City University of New York, MPhil
    Graduate School of the City University of New York, PhD

Research Areas

  • Political Science (1606)
  • Anthropology Of Development (160101)
  • History And Philosophy Of The Social Sciences (220208)