Sir Langham Dale led the commission that established the University of the Cape of Good Hope (UCGH), which later became Unisa, and served as Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor over a 25-year period.
The son of a Hampshire parish registrar, Dale attended Oxford on a bursary. At age 22, a recommendation from the famous astronomer Sir John Herschel secured Dale a professorship at the South African College, Cape Town. Dale argued with the College’s incumbent administrator, forced his resignation and took over. Dale was said to be “in charge of everything related to higher education in the Cape” – next he became Superintendent General of Education and then President of the Board of Public Examiners (which would become UCGH). He served as the Cape government’s most strong-willed education adviser for much of the rest of his career. Determined to establish a bona fide, degree-conferring university for the Colony, he performed the difficult political groundwork that resulted in the Cape Parliament’s Act 16 of 1873, which established UCGH.