UJ remembers the legacy of SA’s hotel tycoon, Sir Solomon (Sol) Kerzner

​The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sir Sol Kerzner, one of South Africa’s illustrious businessmen and founder of leading hotel group, Southern Sun and Sun International. He passed away yesterday, Saturday, 21 March 2020, at his home in Hout Bay, Cape Town, after a long battle with cancer. He was aged 84.

Sir Kerzner made an immense contribution to the building of UJ’s School of Tourism and Hospitality, commonly known as STH, alongside former deputy president and current Executive Director of UN Women, Mrs. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and the late Professor Connie Mogale-Mokadi. In recognition of his role, The Auckland Park Bunting Road campus STH building is named after Sir Kerzner, who is regarded as the school’s patron alongside Nelson Mandela.

Today, the School’s academic offering is complemented by its commercial facilities and has attained the top status of a 4-star graded facilities, as was envisaged by Sir Kerzner. STH was named in first position in academic rankings on the continent and 18 globally, as announced by Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)) in February 2019. In 2019, STH celebrated 50 years of excellence in Tourism and Hospitality education.

STH Board Chairperson, Mr. Jerry Mabena lauded Sir Kerzner’s contribution to the tourism and hospitality sector, saying he has left a formidable legacy as an entrepreneur and pioneer of the industry. STH Director, Dr Diane Abrahams, said both the staff and students were saddened by the news of Sir Kerzner’s death.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Sol Kerzner and his family for their unrelenting support of the school over the many years. Their support did not end once the STH building was complete,” said Dr Abrahams.

UJ’s Executive Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Management, Professor Daneel Van Lill, paid a glowing tribute to Sir Kerzner, describing him as “a self-made legend”. “Sol Kerzner’s passing reached me while tending to my beloved garden, dividing and replanting Clivias, an indigenous bush lily bearing vibrant orange blooms in the deepest shady spots under the toughest of conditions. Such is the life and times of Sol Kerzner,” said Prof Van Lill.

“Sol Kerzner and his family have gone the extra mile in supporting the University of Johannesburg, School of Tourism and Hospitality, generally known as the STH. He believed in the purpose of UJ and laid the foundation of the STH in the year that the University was founded.

“Among many memories, we best recall his sense of humour and the admiration of our students, industry partners and staff alike during his visits. Sol has enabled and empowered numerous young, talented South Africans. His legacy, among so many other prestigious awards, is found in transferring skills from those who have them to those who have not. We can’t comprehend the enormous loss the Kerzners must feel right now.”

Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said Sir Kerzner was a great visionary who, through his outstanding work in the hotel and hospitality sector, helped put UJ and South Africa on the global stage.

“The entire UJ community express our sincere appreciation for Sol Kerzner for believing and helping us to sculpt a better future and helping put UJ on the global stage. We express our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and all those who were close to him, during this very difficult time. You are in our thoughts and prayers, and may his soul rest in peace”

  • To read a tribute by Sir Kerzner’s family, click here
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