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Vice-Chancellor Message – 06 October 2023

Dear UJ Community,

I am delighted to address you as the Acting Vice-Chancellor this week while Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi is on a working trip abroad. As is customary at UJ, it has been another eventful week full of exciting news and developments.

Celebrating diversity and inclusion at UJ

I wish to express my sincere appreciation to each of you for making our Staff Day event such a resounding success this past Friday. Witnessing everyone coming together to celebrate the rich tapestry of our cultures and diversity was genuinely inspiring. From the engaging activities to the delicious traditional cuisines and delightful culinary, it was indeed a wonderful experience.

I was particularly impressed by the diverse cultural exhibitions, the kaleidoscope of traditional attires and the captivating performances. If ever there was a doubt, Friday was a demonstration that our Pan-African spirit is alive with possibilities. I am confident we can achieve more through our collaborative efforts and appreciation for our differences. My congratulations go out to our Transformation Unit and everyone involved in orchestrating such a successful event.

A glorious walk for a noble cause

In the same vein, I wish to thank everyone who turned up for the UJ Future Walk, which made a triumphant return this past Saturday after a five-year hiatus. Led by UJ Sport in partnership with the UJ Development and Fundraising Office, it was indeed a lively event full of fun. It is encouraging to see many people supporting an event that not only promotes an active and healthy lifestyle but also helps our academically deserving students pay for their registration and tuition fees. I encourage you to join us next year for this exciting event.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Letlhokwa Mpedi walks the 8km
UJ Future Walk: Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Letlhokwa Mpedi walking for a cause

Strengthening UJ’s global footprint

In pursuit of expanding our Global Excellence and Stature (GES4.0) catalytic initiative, our Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Mpedi, is leading a UJ delegation to the United Kingdom (UK). They are exploring opportunities for fundraising, research collaborations, and academic exchange programmes with various universities and strategic partner associations. The highlight of the visit was the launch of the UJ Alumni Chapter in the UK, dedicated to honouring our esteemed alums and strengthening our presence in the country.

The VC’s delegation comprises Ms Nolwazi Mamorare (Chief Financial Officer), Mr Dries Pretorius (General Counsel), Prof Ylva Rodny-Gumede (Senior Director: Division for Internationalisation), Mr Mzwakhe Matukane (Senior Director: Financial Governance and Revenue), Ms Ntombise Mangqase (Director: International Fundraising and Administration), Ms Daphney Nemakhavhani (Director: Development and Fundraising), and Mr Nell Ledwaba (Senior Manager: Faculty Coordination and Alumni).

Undergraduate Research Conference

Our commitment to nurturing academic growth and innovation through undergraduate research took centre stage early this week during our third annual Undergraduate Research Conference. This event, organised by our Academic Development Centre in partnership with the UJ Library, focussed on the transformative potential of undergraduate research. It is also in recognition of the fact that undergraduate research goes beyond the expansion of knowledge, but that it also empowers the next generation of leaders who will champion positive change in our society and the world at large.

Our students not only gained valuable insights, but they also actively contributed to addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges, with a specific focus on sustainable development. Congratulations to all those who participated in this remarkable research work!

Professorial Inauguration

This week, we welcomed Geoff Goldman (a Professor of Critical Management Studies) to the UJ Professorship. During his professorial inauguration lecture, titled I Searched for Form and Land, for Years and Years I Roamed: Reflecting on an (a)typical Academic Journey, Prof Goldman shared insights from his diverse family background as well as valuable lessons drawn from the branches of his family tree. We are pleased to welcome Prof Goldman to our professorship, and we look forward to his contribution as he embarks on this new journey. To explore his remarkable journey further, click here.

Watch the inauguration here:

Staff achievement

Please join me in congratulating Dr Shelly Barry (a lecturer in the Department of Film and Television) whose short film, A camera on my lap, has been recognised at the 17th South African Film and Television Awards. This achievement is even more remarkable because Dr Barry filmed the documentary using only her mobile phone while confined to a wheelchair. Dr Barry’s dedication to disability rights activism has also earned her the Zonta Prize for Female Filmmaker in an international competition at the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany. Her accomplishments are an inspiration to our entire University community and society at large. Congratulations and well done, Dr Barry!

More silverware for UJ Sport

Following recent achievements by our UJ Sport teams, I am elated to share that our Junior Women’s Under-20 football team secured the title 2023 Engen Champs of Champs on Monday after they defeated the Cape Town Roses ladies. Our team won the game 5-4 on penalties after a fiercely contested match that ended in a 1-all draw. This achievement is a testament to the unwavering commitment and hard work of our players, coaching staff, and support team. Congratulations to everyone for this outstanding achievement!

Cast your vote for new student leadership

Lastly, as extensively communicated, the SRC Elections for the 2024 term will take place next week, from Wednesday to Friday (11 – 13 October 2023). As in previous years, the Independent Election Committee (IEC) will oversee the election process, ensuring its fairness and transparency. The voting will be conducted electronically, a system successfully used for the past three years.

To maintain integrity, the entire system, process, and results undergo auditing by a professional audit firm. For any questions or information, please reach out to the Election Committee offices or the Student Affairs department. I strongly encourage our students to actively participate in the upcoming elections by casting their votes.

Kea a leboha, ngiyabonga, thank you, baie dankie!

Professor Sarah Gravett: Vice-Chancellor and Principal (Acting)

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

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