South Africa has undergone transformation since the end of apartheid governance in 1994. Legislatively enforced, this transformation has permeated most sectors of society, including higher education. Questions remain, however, about the extent to which transformation has occurred in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in general, and across the academic staff body in HEIs in particular. In this study, we examine the transformation of academic staff profiles at HEIs throughout the country. Initially, we graph the racial profile of academics across multiple positions (junior lecturer to professor) from 2005 to 2013. We then use correlational analysis to identify which characteristics of universities in South Africa can be used to explain the racial inequities evident in South African HEIs. Our results indicate that world university ranking; percentage black African staff; percentage black African student body; and whether the university is 'historically disadvantaged', all influence the racial profile of the academic staff body to varying degrees. The size of the overall staff and study body does not appear to influence the racial profile of universities' staff component. We conclude that transformation of the academic staff body of HEIs in South Africa is indeed occurring, albeit slowly. Rather than seeing this as a negative, we argue that the pace of 'academic' transformation in the country needs to be interpreted within the framework of academic governance.