Dr Ismail Lagardien appointed as Dean of Business and Economic Sciences at NMMU

The following report was issued by NMMU:


Dr Ismail Lagardien – who has two decades of experience in an academic and policy environment, and 15 years’ experience as a journalist – is the new Dean of Business and Economic Sciences at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. 

Dr Lagardien, who starts at NMMU on April 1, studied political economy at the London School of Economics, and went on to complete a master’s degree in international political economy at the same institution. His doctorate, from the University of Wales (Aberystwyth), focused on global inequality, and the place of neo-classical economics in global public policy making.

He also holds a certificate from the University of Cape Town, on “The role of public policy in private sector development”.

From 2011 until last year, he worked at the National Planning Commission, as Senior Sector Expert: International Cooperation and Regional Integration, under the leadership of former Minister Trevor Manuel. He spent last year as a guest scholar at the German Development Institute in Bonn, Germany, preparing a book-length manuscript for publication, based on his doctoral thesis. The working title is: Liberal capitalism and equality: An impossible relationship.

Prior to this, he held several academic positions, including being assistant professor in international political economy at Elon University in North Carolina, United States from 2010 to 2011. He was a visiting scholar on African Political Economy at the University of South Carolina from 2005 to 2010.

He spent 15 years in the 1980s and 90s working as a journalist. From 1980 to 1997, he wrote articles and took photographs for The Weekly Mail, The Rand Daily Mail, The Star and the Sunday Times. He was political correspondent at the Sowetan newspaper from 1988 to 1995.  He was also the Southern African correspondent for the New Straits Times of Malaysia, from 1986 to 1995.

He left journalism in 1995 to become the director of communications for the Department of Trade and Industry. He later worked as a speech writer and strategist for the World Bank, in the office of Nobel Laureate Dr Joseph Stiglitz, who was the Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President for Development Economics.

Dr Lagardien holds a number of awards, including a Teaching Excellence Award from the University of South Carolina and the EH Carr Award for Doctoral Studies at the University of Wales (Aberystwyth). His doctoral dissertation was noted as a “Significant contribution to an important subject”. He also received a Scholarship Award from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, awarded to outstanding scholars with leadership potential from around the world, for post-graduate study in the United Kingdom.

He has been a guest lecturer at a number of South African universities.

“I am proudly joining NMMU at a time of quite magnificent global systemic changes,” said Dr Lagardien. “These changes present significant challenges to the way we organise economies, how we do business, to our marketing strategies, to industrial relations in society, to how we teach, what we teach and the production of new knowledge. If we have learned anything from the current crisis in the world, it would be that the expectations of populations have never been higher; many people are seeking better answers to the questions and the difficulties that beset their lives. This applies, also, to South Africa nationally and in the Eastern Cape.

“It is precisely for these conditions and expectations, nationally and regionally, that I am absolutely thrilled to be joining NMMU. Building on the past achievements of NMMU, and if everyone pulls in the same direction – students and staff – I am convinced that we can become a centre of excellence, and a model institution of higher learning in the country, the region and globally.”

“I am proud to welcome Dr Lagardien to NMMU. I believe his experience and expertise will help to further grow the Department of Business and Economic Sciences,” said NMMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz.

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