Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship

Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship


Scholars' Library: Max Price on 'Statues and Storms'

Scholars' Library: Max Price on 'Statues and Storms'

24 January 2024

17:30 - 18:30 (GMT+00:00)

Online Platform


This event is free and open to the public.

For our first Scholars’ Library of 2024, Max Price (South Africa-at-Large & Magdalen 1980) will discuss his book Statues and Storms. In conversation, with another Rhodes Scholar, amongst other topics, Max will talk about protests, protest movements and how this has changed over recent years, the removal of the Rhodes statue at UCT as well as the relationship between leadership and making tough decisions.

Max Price was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) for a decade that spanned a watershed period in higher education in South Africa. From 2015 to 2017, triggered by the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) protest at UCT, the universities across South Africa experienced the most sustained, disruptive and at times violent protests. RMF’s global ripples have contributed to the removal of statues, symbols and names on campuses worldwide. On South African campuses, the movement has compelled a deep re-examination of their institutional cultures. Following RMF, the Fees Must Fall protests shook up the funding of South Africa’s universities and led to a reversal of outsourcing at many. However, the Fallist movement fragmented and degenerated into an extended series of destructive storms that threatened to ruin universities.

This book is a memoir about leading a university in turbulent times and back to safe harbour. It is an insider’s view of the protests, an attempt to explain what happened, and why the decolonising protests erupted at liberal universities two decades after the transition to democracy. It is about leadership and the tough decisions leaders have to make, especially in times of rapid transformation. Finally, it is a reflection on some enduring themes in academia that were in the eye of the storm – academic freedom, artistic freedom, limits of the rights to protest and civil disobedience, institutional culture, racism and inclusiveness, funding higher education, outsourcing and a few more.

You can obtain a copy of Statues and Storms here.

Max Price (South Africa-at-Large & Magdalen 1980) was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) in July 2008, completing his ten-year term in June 2018.

Price studied Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) during which time he became deeply involved in student politics, becoming Student Union president a year after the 1976 Soweto uprising. He subsequently read PPE at Oxford (Magdalen) as a Rhodes Scholar. Following clinical work in academic and rural hospitals in South Africa, he gained a master’s degree in Community Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and then worked as an academic in the areas of health policy and economics, rural health services, and health science education. He contributed to health policy development for the first, post-apartheid government.

Price was dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits for ten years before becoming Vice-Chancellor at UCT.

He now consults in public health, higher education, strategic leadership and advises foundations on grant making. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Atlantic Institute.