In Memoriam - Emerita Prof Lynette Denny (1958 - 2024)

11 Jun 2024
Em Prof Lynette Denny
11 Jun 2024

Dear Staff and Student colleagues

I am deeply saddened at the death of our colleague and friend, Emerita Professor Lynette Denny. Lyn passed away yesterday afternoon, Sunday, 9 June 2024, following a long period of ill health. She was 66.
Professor Denny recently retired as Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. An outstanding teacher, trainer and researcher, she is globally renowned for her work in cervical cancer.

Her relationship with UCT began as a student, graduating with an MBChB in 1983, after which she began her specialist training as a registrar on Joint Appointment conditions with UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital in Obs & Gynae in 1989, including 18 months as senior registrar in sub-speciality training in Gynaecology Oncology Groote Schuur Hospital until Jan 1993. She thereafter served as specialist  (Feb 1994 -Jan 1997); Senior Specialist (1997-2007); Principal Specialist (2007-2009) and Chief Specialist from 2010 until she passed away.
She was the recipient of many awards, including the 2006 Department of Science and Technology Award for Women in Science in the category Distinguished Scientist Award and the  CANSA AG Oettlé Memorial Award in 2015  in recognition of her remarkable contribution to reducing the impact of cervical cancer on the women of our country. A career highlight was the Order of the Baobab (Silver) received from President Cyril Ramaphosa at a ceremony hosted by the presidency in recognition of her work as a leading global researcher in cervical cancer and its association with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Professor Denny was a remarkable woman, colleague, mentor and friend, but above all, a humanitarian with uncompromising values. The current Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Professor Mushi Matjila, eloquently captured this in his message to the Dean’s Management Committee, when he wrote of her:
“Lyn, (as she was known to many)gifted the Department, Faculty and University and the people of this country unmeasurable dedication and love — she was very much loved and adored.  The extent of her contributions and impact was not only local but extended to the global community. She remained a stern and unwavering advocate for the most vulnerable women within our society. Lyn served the Department, Faculty, University and our profession with extraordinary distinction and provided exceptional vision, steer and leadership — and she conducted this with admirable humaneness, humility and servient dedication.
Her contribution to the academic project was enormous. Her quality and nature of teaching, training and research (largely based in the community where they are needed) will continue to be impactful and will eternally be etched in our minds and hearts.
At these most challenging of times, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology wishes to express and convey its deepest and heartfelt condolences to Professor Denny’s family, colleagues, students, friends, members of the Faculty, her research entities — the Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre and the Khayelitsha Cervical Cancer Screening Project — and her local and international collaborators.
As we begin to chart this challenging week with heavy hearts and sombreness, it must be with foremost remembrance and celebration of Professor Denny’s enormous and purposeful life contributions and achievements.”
Professor Lynette Denny’s legacy will forever be engraved in the rich tapestry of the Faculty, University of Cape Town and beyond our borders. 

The Faculty echoes the sentiments of Prof Matjila in holding the colleagues close to Lyn’s work, the colleagues alongside whom she worked and, most deeply, her family gathered around her at the very end of her life.

Funeral details will be communicated once confirmed.
Rest well, phumla kakuhle, Lyn. We will never forget you.

Kaise ke gangans
Associate Professor Lionel Green-Thompson
Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences