Dr Khotso Mokhele was appointed as Chancellor of the UFS on 4 June 2010.
He was awarded a BSc Agriculture from Fort Hare University, and continued his studies at the University of California Davis on the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Scholarship Programme, completing his MSc (Food Science) and PhD (Microbiology). He was subsequently a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland, USA) and the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA).
Dr Mokhele is the recipient of honorary doctorates from eight South African universities, including the University of the Free State and Rutgers University in the United States.
As President and CEO of the Foundation for Research Development (FRD) (1996-1999) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) from 1999 to 2006, Dr Mokhele played a central role in providing visionary and strategic direction to the South African science system. He was the Founder President of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF), Chairperson of the Economic Advisory Council to the Premier of the Free State (2001-2004), and a member of the Advisory Council on Innovation to the Minister of Science and Technology (2003-2007). His role in securing government and international support for the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Project is evidence of his dedication to science in South Africa. The success of this project laid the basis for South Africa being selected to host more than 70% of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international mega telescope for radio astronomy. In recognition of his contribution to the development of science, he was the recipient of the Technology Top 100 Lifetime Achievers Award in 2009 and the National Science and Technology Forum Award in 2005.
His role in science is recognised internationally. He was elected Vice-President: Scientific Planning and Review of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and Chairperson of its Committee for Scientific Planning and Review (2005-2008), as well as a member of the Committee on Developing and Transition Economy Countries of the International Social Science Council (2008-2010). He also represented South Africa on the executive board of UNESCO and was awarded the Member Legion of Honour of the Republic of France for his work in strengthening scientific ties between South Africa and France.
Dr Mokhele’s current corporate positions include: Non-Executive Chairman: Board of Directors, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd (Implats) and Adcock Ingram Holdings Ltd; Non-Executive Director: African Oxygen Ltd (Afrox), Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings Ltd (Zimplats), Hans Merensky Holdings Ltd and Tiger Brands Ltd. He is the President of the Hans Merensky Foundation (South Africa) and a Trustee of SciDev.Net (a web-based scientific magazine based in London, UK) and Start International Inc (USA). He was Chairman of the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee for Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland (2007–2011) and had served on the South Africa at Large Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee for more than 10 years.