Vice-Chancellor Message – 04 November 2022


Dear UJ Community,

I begin this week’s letter by congratulating each one of our students who have qualified to sit for the year-end examinations. I am aware that while examinations commenced earlier this week, many of our students still need to write their first papers. Some of our students will be advancing into their next year of academic studies in 2023, while others are writing their last examinations before receiving their qualifications. Whatever your aspirations, I wish you only the very best as you work towards the end of this period.

Once again, I urge our students to make full use of the various academic support programmes that are offered by our University. We are aware that you might feel anxious and overwhelmed during the exam period. Please do not hesitate to consult our psychological support services units at any of the four campuses. The Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCaD) aids students in various ways. This includes a walk-in service, individual counselling sessions, and a faster emergency response through our 24-hour Crisis Line (082 054 1137).

Still talking about examinations, I would like to remind our students to plan to arrive well ahead of the start time for their examinations. In this regard and considering the high volume of traffic and people moving during the morning peak, I would advise that you arrive at least one hour before the scheduled start of an examination. Remember that you will need your student card to access the campus and the exam venue during this period. No personal belongings, such as laptops, tablets, satchels, etc., will be allowed in the exam venues. If you must bring these to campus, they should be handed in at the safekeeping venue on each campus. I am optimistic that the examination results, when they come out, will be gratifying and worthy of celebration.

As some of you ready yourselves for the next chapter in your careers or academic journey, it is rewarding to see that our alumni continue to positively influence the world through future-focused inventions and eagerness to leave a lasting mark for the generations to come. Most recently, our Alumni Office held a celebratory event for all UJ alumni who have made the Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans, prestigious list. Both our Chair of Council, Mr Mike Teke, and South African business executive, Mr Sizwe Nxasana, delivered keynote addresses outlining the importance of education and how to overcome obstacles. Do register on alumni connect to view the night’s proceedings.

On a slightly different note, this week ushers in a new era for our University’s student leadership following the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Congratulations to our incoming SRC leaders, SASCO and EFFSC, for claiming victory in the elections. I wish both student formations the best of luck and hope their tenure in office will inspire the UJ student community!

In the same vein, please join me in congratulating Professor Heidi Abrahamse (the SARChI Chair in Laser Applications in Health and the Director of the Laser Research Centre), who is the recipient of the 2022 Basic PDT Research Excellence Award by the International Photodynamic Association (IPA). This award recognises the significant career contributions of Prof Abrahamse which have advanced Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) development and access in South Africa. Prof Abrahamse was one of the few researchers that established and initiated basic research in PDT in South Africa. Her research and accessibility efforts have influenced public sector support for PDT as the South African Department of Science and Innovation identified ‘Biophotonics in Health’ as a major area of focus and investment, through the Photonics Initiative of South Africa (PISA). Prof Abrahamse, well done!

This week, I and other members of the Management Executive Committee (MEC) had the opportunity to reflect on the progress and challenges of the past academic year and to look ahead to the future. The sessions provided us with the chance to rethink how best we can enhance our University’s business model on matters such as academic excellence, the quality and maintenance of our infrastructure, financial sustainability, fundraising, as well as the safety and wellness of our students and staff. I am confident that the University is on track towards achieving the 2035 Strategic Plan’s objectives.

I wish to remind you of the upcoming VC Campus Engagement Session with staff at the Auckland Park Bunting Road campus on Monday, 07 November 2022. These sessions are organised to help bring about a close interaction between management and employees on current and pertinent University matters. The session is scheduled to take place in Conference Rooms 1 & 2, Kerzner Building at the School of Tourism and Hospitality. The session is from 13:00 to 14:30.

Lastly, I am pleased to announce that the University will be hosting the 2021 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah, next week. Prof Gurnah will deliver a Public Lecture on Colonialism and the Refugee Experience on Wednesday, 09 November 2022. On the same day, the University will confer an Honorary Doctorate on Prof Gurnah in recognition of his invaluable contribution to the social, economic and scientific fields through his literature that delves into topics derived from colonial experiences.  Prof Gurnah’s writings explore themes of dispossession, displacement, exile, diaspora and identity, as well as alienation, belonging and disinheritance – which reverberate in South Africa. The public lecture is scheduled to take place at the University’s Art Centre from 16:00. To attend this event, please register here.


Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa, thank you!

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala                     

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Johannesburg             

Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.

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