Professor Ahmed Bawa, a theoretical physicist, currently holds the position of Chief Executive Officer of Universities South Africa (USAf). In this capacity, he is a member of the Board of Directors of USAf – the representative association of all 26 public universities of South Africa. Until April 2016, Professor Bawa was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Durban University of Technology. From 2012-2013 he was chair of Higher Education South Africa (HESA) which became USAf in July 2015.
Prior to that, Professor Bawa had held senior positions at universities in South Africa and in the United States. Among others, he has held the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Natal and at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Professor Bawa holds a PhD in Theoretical Physics from Durham University. His areas of research were Nuclear Physics and Elementary Particle Physics. He has also done work in the area of Higher Education Studies and in the area of Science and Society.
He served on a number of national policy development teams in the post-1994 period in the areas of Science and Technology and Higher Education. He was a researcher for the National Commission on Higher Education and was an inaugural member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation till 2002. He is Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa as well as the Academy of Science of South Africa of which he was one of the inaugural vice-presidents. He is currently a member of the Council of the Academy. He also served as Chair of the Board of the Foundation for Research Development, Telkom and Sanlam and was Vice-Chair of the Board of the Atomic Energy Corporation. He serves on several international advisory boards.
Professor Bawa has been a recipient of many awards. Among them was the Transformative Leadership Award bestowed on him by the University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Centre for his dedication to producing significant societal change, and to working tirelessly, enabling the institutions in South Africa to realise that goal. Professor Bawa is well known for advocating universities’ responsiveness to their local contexts.