In honour of Black History Month, we would like to highlight the impact that Dr. Donald G. S. M'Timkulu (1908-2000) made to Renison University College. He was hired in 1960 as a Sociology professor, and was well known for his course “Race and Culture in the Third World.”
Dr. M’Timkulu (pictured right) was a distinguished South African sociologist who became known for being gentle in nature, a kind scholar, and a generous human being. Prior to joining Renison as a Faculty member, his impressive resume included creating programs in Black Studies and International Studies at Western College for Women in Ohio, working as curriculum specialist for international programs for the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and serving as president of the South African Teachers’ Federation. Dr. M’Timkulu was also committed to improving Renison for the better; throughout his time at Renison, he would establish the beginning of the Applied Social Science program, which set the stage for the establishment of Renison’s School of Social Work.
In 1971 Dr. M’Timkulu took on the role of Acting Principal at Renison, the institution’s highest administrative position, after the unexpected passing of Renison’s first Principal Wyn Rees. Over the next three years, Principal Dr. M’Timkulu would oversee the first Renison graduates in 1972, and advance the development of Renison’s specializations, including the Applied Social Science program, including a name change in 1974 to Social Development Studies (still the program name today).
Outside of Renison, Dr. M’Timkulu was also an active participant in the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, the University of Waterloo CUSO committee and the Global Community Centre in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Dr. M’Timkulu’s impact on Renison can be felt throughout its programs, and in the fabric of its culture. When reminiscing about being interviewed, faculty member Mark Nagler said that Dr. M’Timkulu and Harry Tuyn (an English Language professor) worked hard to persuade him to sign on, saying “They told me Renison was a wonderful place to teach. They explained that the students here weren’t interested in making lots of money but in doing something worthwhile in the world.” We know that Dr. M’Timkulu would be proud of the students and alumni Renison calls its own today.
Renison has a named award for Dr. M'Timkulu, along with his wife Doris, a longtime friend of Renison and former Board Member. The Donald and Doris M’Timkulu Award reflects their commitment to intercultural understanding and respect for human dignity. The award is available to Social Development Studies and Bachelor of Social Work students to provide funding to participate in an intercultural learning experience within Canada or abroad, as an integral part of their studies. Learn more at renison.ca/funding
This profile was written using the following sources:
“Dr. Donald G. S. M'Timkulu - He sustained our belief in humanity's capacity for good” By Michael Bird. https://uwaterloo.ca/renison/donald-g-s-mtimkulu
Bold and Courageous Dreams: The History of Renison University College, 1959-2014, Gail Cuthbert Brandt, 2nd ed, Renison University College, 2014