Dear UJ Community,
Today, we bring you a special edition of the VC Newsletter. It is the first in a three-part series that will come your way this month, co-written by the two of us in our capacities as the outgoing Vice-Chancellor and Principal and the incoming Vice-Chancellor and Principal. Some of you would have noticed that we have been collaborating on writing articles for the mainstream media in recent months.
We have authored no less than five articles delving into a broad range of topics around the social and political economy issues affecting our country. The latest of these articles was published on Wednesday this week, focused on how South Africa should rework its social contract to build a better future for its citizens.
This has been part of the handing over process as one of us prepares for an impending departure to the United Nations University (UNU), and the other prepares to take over the reins at UJ. In fact, this is one of many steps in a continuing process to ensure a smooth transition in leadership at the University.
We appreciate the work of our academic and support/administrative staff and students continue to in helping this institution to emerge as an international University of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. From the historic merger in 2005 to the adoption of the Global Excellence and Stature (GES) project in 2015, which infused the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) element in 2018 to become GES 4.0, which is soon to evolve into GES 4.0 for Societal Impact, our journey has been astounding.
On that note, I, Tshilidzi Marwala, wish to thank everyone for the wonderful farewell dinner this past Friday. The reality that I will soon be leaving this great institution sank in as I reflected on the gravity of the evening and the impact of your messages. While I am excited about this new opportunity, I am also sad to be leaving an institution that has defined much of my career behind. Indeed, I have gained a lot from the UJ community’s guidance and support in my time here.
I will carry the lessons I have learned with me to my next adventure, and I will always look back on this experience with a lot of fondness and gratitude. A special thanks to Dr Nolitha Vukuza and Prof Kinta Burger and their teams in the University Relations Division and Registrar’s Office, respectively, for their hard work in organising such a wonderful farewell dinner. It was indeed a beautiful evening. You may watch some of the well wishes and the full event here.
Of course, we both acknowledge that there might still be some anxieties about the transitional period, especially as the change in leadership goes beyond the position of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal. This is only normal. But with change comes great opportunity! We must embrace this opportunity to ensure that we emerge stronger and more resilient as we build on the structures and systems that have led us to this point.
After all, it was not by chance that we are the university of choice when the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) selected a higher institution of learning to develop the 3D Printing Housing Project. It was indeed gratifying to see this groundbreaking project being unveiled at our Doornfontein Campus on Friday last week. We thank Professor Daniel Mashao, our Executive Dean in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) and his colleagues for their wonderful work in making the project a reality. We hope it will contribute towards efforts to alleviate the housing problems in the country.
And lest we forget, the 3D Printing Housing Project came fresh in the wake of the launch of the AI Institute of South Africa in December last year, in collaboration with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT). These are just two of many projects that demonstrate our University’s agility in the 4IR space and developing innovative research that is impactful, for the betterment of society.
On matters of excellence, we are delighted that three UJ academics have been selected to participate in the Future Professors Programme (FPP) Phase 01 Cohort 3, managed by the University of Stellenbosch. Congratulations, Prof Andy Carolin (Department of Childhood Education), Prof Mondli Hlatshwayo (Centre for Education Rights and Transformation in the Faculty of Education) and Dr Major Mabuza (Department of Chemical Engineering: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment). We wish them well!
Regarding registration, we are pleased that our intake of first-year undergraduate students and returning students is going smoothly. With the huge demand for enrolment at universities comes the accompanying challenge of lack of capacity to enroll all qualifying students, further exacerbated by funding issues. In this regard, it was enlightening to read the insights of Professor Nadine Petersen (Executive Dean in the Faculty of Education) and Denyse Webbstock (Senior Director: Institutional Planning, Evaluation and Monitoring) on this important matter in an article published on Monday.
To read about our registration process, the procedure to follow after acceptance into study programmes and residence admissions, visit our website, www.uj.ac.za. Just like in recent years, no physical ‘walk-ins’ will be accepted.
Finally, we wish to remind you that we are doubling our funding efforts for thousands of students registering for degrees in 2023 through the “Double our Future Impact Student 2023 Registration Campaign” to help this group of students. We thus appeal to you to donate and help us Double our Future Impact and ensure that at least 10 000 students are assisted with their 2023 registration fees.
We have already received donations of more than R2.5 million from major donors. Your support could give 10 000 students and their families certainty for a reimagined future. Donate Now!
Rea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ria livhuwa, thank you!
Prof Tshilidzi Marwala: Outgoing Vice-Chancellor and Principal
Prof Letlhokwa Mpedi: Incoming Vice-Chancellor and Principal
Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.