Vice-Chancellor Message – 10 November 2023

Dear UJ community,

On Wednesday, 8 November 2023, our University hosted Vice-Chancellors from the South Africa Sweden University Forum (SASUF), a strategic project uniting 40 partner universities in South Africa and Sweden. The project, which launched in 2017, represents the coming together of vice-chancellors from both countries to strengthen ties between Sweden and South Africa in research, education and innovation.

Wednesday’s meeting was a precursor to a conference that will take place in May next year. We had fruitful discussions about some significant points in preparation for 2024, as we seek to take the collaboration to another level. The partnership represents more than just a gathering of academic institutions; it is a testament to the power of international cooperation and mutual understanding. To read more about this, click here.

UJ staff members win SA Literary Awards

Literature has the power to broaden our minds and help us gain a better understanding of the world around us. Thus, I congratulate Dr Siphiwo Mahala (Department of English and a Senior Research Fellow at JIAS) and Prof Mandla Radebe (Department of Strategic Communication and Director for the Centre for Data and Digital Communications) for being named among the winners of the South African Literary Awards.

Dr Mahala was named as a joint winner in the Best Creative Non-Fiction category for his book Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi. The book is an appendage of his PhD thesis, which our Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) and the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences helped convert into a book.

Prof Radebe was also a joint winner in same category for his book, The Lost Prince of the ANC: The Life and Times of Jabulani Nobleman’ Mzala’ Nxumalo. The book is the first complete account of the South African revolutionary intellectual Jabulani Nobleman’ Mzala’ Nxumalo. It is a powerful and searching biography of a key figure in South African liberation history. Being named a winner in these awards is a great achievement, and I am extremely proud of both Dr Mahala and Prof Radebe. Well done, colleagues! Click here to read more about this.

Still on literary matters, I am thrilled that my latest book, From the Baobab to the Mosquito: Rethinking Leadership Through Africa Sayings, will be launched this coming Wednesday, 15 November 2023, at Exclusive Books Rosebank branch. The book draws inspiration from African culture and African approaches to challenge the prevailing systems. To RSVP, send an email to Space is very limited.

Celebrating more staff excellence

Professor Ben Marx from the Department of Accountancy has been bestowed with the valued ABASA (Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants in South Africa) President’s Award for Transformational Impact. This recognition speaks volumes of Prof Marx’s unwavering commitment to advancing Black accountants and his transformative contributions to the accounting field. We are proud to have him as a member of our team and look forward to his continued contributions. Well done!

As some of you might recall, the Future Professors Programme (FPP) Phase 2 was established to prepare promising and productive early-career academics to become the new cohort of professors in the South African higher education system. Our University is the implementing partner for the programme in partnership with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) through the University Capacity Development Grant.

To this end, I am pleased to announce that DHET has approved Dr Ndzondelelo Bingwa in our Department of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Science, as a candidate in the FPP Phase 2 Cohort 2, which will commence in 2024. We are proud that Dr Bingwa has been selected. He is the recipient of the 2022 UJ Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Award in the category of Most Promising Young Researcher of the Year. He is well-respected in his field, both nationally and internationally. Congratulations, Dr Bingwa – we wish you success in your journey!

Professorial inauguration

This week, we welcomed Lagouge Tartibu, a Mechanical Engineering expert, to the UJ Professorship. In his inaugural lecture titled Evolutionary Algorithms: The Key to Cutting-Edge Engineering Optimization, he delved into the fascinating realm of metaheuristic approaches, advocating their potential for addressing intricate engineering optimisation dilemmas. Congratulations, Prof Tartibu. I hope your new rank will spur you on in your professional journey. Watch  the full address here

Coronation as a Chief in Ghana

I am delighted that this coming Monday, His Royal Majesty, Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi VII (the highly respected Omanhen (Overlord) of the Abeadze Traditional Kingdom), will bestow the honour of Chief of the Abeadze Kingdom in the Central Region of Ghana on me. Some of you may recall that last year, Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and the Director of the South African Medical Research Council/UJ Pan African Centre for Epidemics Research (PACER) Extramural Unit, was honoured as the Queen of Research by the Abeadze Kingdom in Ghana.

The coronation is in recognition of my contributions to research, education, and mentorship, particularly in the field of labour and social security on the African continent. The second leg of the coronation will be held in Ghana, in August 2024. In advance, I dedicate this honour to the entire UJ Community.

Bonne chance Proteas

Lastly, I congratulate our national cricket team, the Proteas, for qualifying for the Cricket World Cup semi-finals in India. All the teams that have qualified so far are tough opponents, However, I do not doubt that the Proteas will make us proud. Let us all give the Proteas the same support we showed to the Springboks!

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

Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi: Vice-Chancellor and Principal

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

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