Prof Gerald Ortmann
Rabie Saunders Building
Prof Gerald Ortmann grew up on a sugarcane and timber farm in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and attended the former University of Natal, where he graduated with a BScAgric degree in 1973 and an MScAgric degree in 1975, majoring in Agricultural Economics. After completing his Master’s degree, he was employed by the Division of Production Economics of the national Department of Agriculture as Natal Regional Economist based at Cedara for about four years (24/01/75 to 31/12/78). He was promoted to Head of Regional Economists in the Winter Rainfall Region, Cape Province, based at Stellenbosch, where he spent nine months, and was then appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Natal on 1/10/79. He graduated with a PhD degree in 1986, and rose through the ranks to Senior Professor in 2002. He became Head of Agricultural Economics at UKZN in 2004.
Ortmann served as Head of the former School of Agricultural Sciences & Agribusiness for six years, and as Interim Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Science & Agriculture for nearly a year in 2004. He is currently Academic Leader of the “Value-Adding” Cluster (comprising Agricultural Economics; Agricultural Extension & Rural Resource Management; Dietetics & Human Nutrition; and Food Security) in the School of Agricultural, Earth & Environmental Sciences (SAEES). He served as President of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) for two years (September 1999 to September 2001) and a total of ten years on the Management Committee of AEASA. He is a member of AEASA, the African Association of Agricultural Economists, the Economic Society of South Africa, the International Association of Agricultural Economists, and the International Farm Management Association. He has been an Honorary Member of AEASA since 2005.
Ortmann has spent six sabbaticals at overseas universities (Ohio State University (1986), Purdue University (1991), University of Bonn (1997), University of Minnesota (twice – 2005 and 2009) and Lincoln University in New Zealand (2014)). He has successfully supervised or co-supervised 38 Masters (11 of them cum laude
and one summa cum laude
) and 12 PhD students, and has been internal or external examiner for 52 Masters and 18 PhD theses. Five of his Masters students won the AEASA Best Masters Thesis award (1984, 1993, 2000, 2008 and 2009), two received the AEASA prize for the second-best Masters thesis (2007 and 2011), and three of his Masters students won the prestigious S2
Bronze Medal for the best Masters thesis (1997, 2000 and 2011). In addition to numerous research reports, presentations at local and international conferences, book chapters and articles in popular journals or magazines, 124 papers have been published in peer-reviewed, accredited academic journals. Fifteen of his papers have won awards. His main research interests include Farm and Financial Management, Production Economics, Agricultural Policy, and Institutional Economics, with a focus on promoting the competitiveness of small-scale and large-scale farmers in South Africa. Ortmann is a NRF-rated researcher and has also served on the NRF Assessment Panel for Economics, Management, Administration and Accounting in 2004, 2006 and 2007 to evaluate academics for rating purposes. He was awarded a Fellowship of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in April 2012.