October 10, 2016: Reception for Lee Berger in New York City

A reception for Wits alumni and friends was held in New York City on October 10th. After drinks and introductions, attendees were treated to a short presentation by Professor Lee Berger, Wits professor, award-winning researcher, explorer, author and palaeoanthropologist, highlighting his recent discoveries of fossils from humankind’s earliest ancestors in caves near Johannesburg, South Africa. Professor Berger is one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2016, as well as the 2016 National Geographic Society’s Rolex Explorer of the Year.

Wit’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib, had also been slated to speak but was not able to attend the event, due to administrative reponsibilities in Johannesburg, and sent an audio message to the participants.

Welcoming the guests, both the Chairman of the Wits Fund board (Mr Stanley Bergman), and its President (Mr John Teeger), spoke about the work the Wits Fund is doing in the United States to help support activities at Wits University.


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Mr Bergman pointed out that the recently released Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2016-2017 which raised Wits global rankingwas great news for all those with degrees from Wits University. [Read more about the rankings here.

Mr Bergman explained that Wits has broken into the top 200 of the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking, and is ranked at 182, a great feat when considering the thousands of universities in the world. He urged the audience to help support activities at Wits, now even more than ever, by donating to the Wits Fund (for more information, please go to www.witsfund.org/donate].

Mr Teeger, whilst introducing the main speaker, touched on the ground-breaking work that Prof Berger has been carrying out at Wits, and expressed his appreciation that the participants would be able to hear from such an imminent scientist.

Professor Lee Berger then gave a very fascinating talk about his lifetime of work and his discoveries in paleoanthropology. He shared some of the challenges and ground-breaking successes that led to the finding homo Naledi – possibly a new species of human ancestor. [For more on this amazing discovery read here and here.]

Prof Berger left his audience enthralled and hooked – promising them more headline announcements in the months to come.