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50th Anniversary

50th Anniversary

1960 - 2010

The Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town was founded in 1960 through the vision and drive of Cecily Niven, daughter of Sir Percy FitzPatrick of Jock of the Bushveld fame, after whom the Institute is named. Cecily passed away in 1992, but her Institute continues to go from strength to strength. It is the only ornithological research institute in the southern hemisphere, and one of only a handful in the world.

Since its formation, the Institute has passed a number of significant milestones:

Since its formation, the Institute has passed a number of significant milestones:

1989: Ornithology identified as the most internationally competitive scientific discipline in South Africa, ranking third equal in the world.

1992: Introduced a taught MSc course in Conservation Biology. This course has graduated more than 200 students from all over the world and some 85% of its graduates are now employed in the field of conservation.

2004: Awarded the prestigious status of one of only six ‘Centres of Excellence in Science and Technology’ by the South African Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation

2006: Appointment of the Pola Pasvolsky Chair in Conservation Biology, made possible by a generous private endowment left to the Institute.

2008: Research in Conservation Science at UCT identified as the most internationally significant of any southern hemisphere university, ranking equal with the fourth-rated university in North America.

The Institute’s proud record of research, teaching and public awareness of science was built over 50 years of hard work and strategic planning. Whilst a 50th Anniversary was a time to reflect and celebrate, it was also a time to look to the future and plan how we can raise our achievements to even higher levels. Securing a sustainable future in the face of escalating global change will require innovative approaches to conserving biodiversity.

During 2010, the Institute pursued a number of activities with the dual aims of increasing the public profile of its activities and consolidating its financial security. The year started with a Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture by Prof. Norman Myers which was followed by a Fitztitute 50th Golf Day and the Fitztitute 50th Annual General Meeting, both of the latter held at the Steenberg Golf Estate. The Fitztitute 50th logo was featured on the front cover of 15 of the 20 issues of the UCT Monday Paper during 2010. We also saw eight Fitztitute articles featured in the Monday Paper during 2010. The revamped Fitztitute website was launched on the UCT website on 17 February 2010. Thereafter, 10 Fitztitute news items appeared on the UCT website during the year, with three items featuring the Fitztitute appearing in the last week of November alone - probably some sort of record for a single research unit at UCT.

If you would like to contribute to our bursary and research fund-raising drives which emanated from the activities of the 50th Anniversary, please contact the Institute’s DST/NRF Centre of Excellence Manager, Dr Rob Little, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa 7701. E-mail rob.little@uct.ac.za, fax +27 (0)21 650 3295; tel: +27 (0)21 650 4026 / 3291.