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Alumni urged to treasure UJ’s legacy

“Courage is to do what is right, despite opposition. UJ has that ability. We have to treasure this legacy.” These were the thought provoking words of the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Convocation President, Mr Mbali Mkhonto at the Convocation’s Annual General Meeting on 9 November 2016.

Members gathered at the University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture’s auditorium to reflect on the Institution’s achievements, its challenges and to project future plans.

UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Ihron Rensburg, pointed out that the University was one of the few universities that continued with its academic programme without interruption during the latest round of Fees Must Fall demonstrations. This is testament to UJ’s commitment to provide quality education to all deserving students.

“We are grateful that we have not lost a single academic day in the semester. We followed an active programme of engagement on the different perspectives of UJ. A key factor has been our partnership with SRC and other student leaders,” said Prof Rensburg.

The President of Convocation, Mr Mkhonto, honoured Prof Rensburg as a courageous leader who steered UJ towards success during turbulent times. With a personal pledge as the first alumnus to join the UJ Alumni Ambassador Programme, Mr Mkhonto launched the initiative that aims to bolster funding at the University. During the launch he urged alumni to contribute in safeguarding the legacy of the University.

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal from UJ was honoured for his leadership at the UJ Convocation AGM. From left to right: UJ Registrar: Prof Kinta Burger; Deputy President of UJ Convocation: Mr Bongani Mthembu; Vice-Chancellor and Principal: Prof Ihron Rensburg and President of UJ Convocation: Mr Mbali Mkhonto.

“By adding your influence to the UJ Alumni Ambassador Programme you will do your part in moulding our future leaders. The difference that your participation can make remains key to the University’s focus, to provide students from all classes and backgrounds with access to quality tertiary education, thereby transforming society and turning aspirations into reality,” said Mr Mkhonto.

President Of Uj Convocation 3
UJ Convocation President, Mr Mbali Mkhonto, urging the Convocation to treasure UJ’s legacy.

The Convocation was inspired by two speakers during the AGM, Ms Zanele Modiba and Mr Simphiwe Mazisa. As first black SRC president of one of UJ’s legacy institutions, The Rand Afrikaans Universiteit, Ms Modiba implored the audience to remain open, present and to participate in finding solutions.

Speaking about the lessons learnt from anti-apartheid activist, Donald Woods, she said: “What remains imprinted in my heart and mind was his ability to engage rather that to just critique, to inquire rather than to just expose, to actively participate, even if on the surface, the effort seems insurmountable. If the cause is worthwhile it is our responsibility to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.”

Zanele Modiba
UJ alumna, Ms Zanele Modiba, gave an inspiring talk on the importance of being open and present.

Mr Mazisa highlighted the principals of leadership during his engagement and how important it is to remain nimble in an ever-changing environment. He said that “If change happens externally faster than internally, you are in trouble.”

During the Convocation AGM, Mr Xavier Knight was elected as an additional member of the Executive Committee of Convocation. In his acceptance speech he affirmed his commitment to UJ. The establishment of increased networking opportunities, a culture of engagement with UJ convocation and stakeholders as well as work integrated learning programmes for students are among the contributions that he will bring to the body.

Mr Xavier Knight
Newly elected Member to the Executive Committee of Convocation, Mr Xavier Knight, pledged his commitment to assist in building networks for UJ convocation during his acceptance speech.
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