Professor Michael Cross

Professor Michael Cross (MEd 1986, PhD 1994), the founding director of the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies at the University of Johannesburg died in a hospital in Johannesburg in the early hours of Sunday, 6 June 2021, after becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Previously attached to Wits as a lecturer at the Faculty of Education from 1986 till 2012, he also served in several initiatives, such as the Governance Task Team of the National Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Committee on Norms and Standards for Educators. He was involved in reviews across the continent, including the Tertiary Education Linkages Project and Finnish Aid to Developing Countries (Finland, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Bosnia, Bolivia and Nepal).

He assisted with the quality assurance of postgraduate programmes in Tanzania and Mozambique, and played an important role in programmes of the Association for African Universities, and in the development of the Rwanda Higher Education Sector Strategic Plan. He was a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Stanford and Stockholm Universities, and the University of Picardy Jules Verne. He amassed an impressive publication record and he coordinated first-rate postgraduate programmes throughout his academic career.

Professor Cross’s passion was in mentoring young researchers and he received the first award from the Association for the Development of Education in Africa in 2012 as the most Outstanding Mentor of Educational Researchers in Africa.

He was also a co-founder and co-editor of a book series on African Higher Education: Developments and Perspectives with Brill/Sense Publishers, and Higher Education Transformation with African Sun Media.

Professor Cross played a key role in post-1994 education policy development in South Africa, which he regarded as his civic duty. Integrating his intellectual skills with programmatic interventions, he systematically worked towards the promotion of education.

He is survived by his wife Albertina, daughter Eunice (BA 2001, BA Hons 2003, LLB 2003, LLM 2011) and son Michael.

Sources: Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

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