Dear UJ Community
It was encouraging to see some of our University analysts availing themselves for expert commentary in the media on the escalating Israeli-Palestine conflict. Among the wide array of UJ analysts is Professor Hennie Strydom, Professor in Public International Law and Dr Swikani Ncube, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Law. The others are Ms Ropafadzo Maphosa, a researcher at the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC), Dr Emmanuel Matambo, Senior Researcher at our Centre for Africa-China Studies, and Prof Farid Esack, Professor in the Study of Islam in Department of Religion Studies.
In the same vein, it is also pleasing to see a new generation of experts emerging from within our ranks in this specialist field of knowledge. Please join me in congratulating Dr Bhaso Ndzendze, who has been appointed as Head of Department at the Department of Politics and International Relations. He will commence his duties on 1 June 2021. At just 25, Dr Ndzendze is arguably the youngest HOD in our University and in the country. He is a specialist on the convergence of global trade, international politics and technologies and has written journal articles for internationally leading journals. A recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including being among the Mail & Guardian Young 200 in 2019, Dr Ndzendze has also authored and co-authored three books on artificial intelligence and international relations. We wish you all the best, Dr Ndzendze, and are certain that you will further advance the study of technology through a political lens.
Please also join me in congratulating Prof Talita Greyling from the School of Economics in the College of Business and Economics, who has been appointed as the Vice-President (membership) of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) Board of Directors. The ISQOLS headquarters is in Phoenix Arizona in the US. Established in 1995, ISQOLS is a global organisation with a mission to promote and encourage research in the field of quality-of-life (QOL), happiness, and wellbeing studies. Its mission focuses on creating a paradigm shift within traditional academic disciplines and to transform “Quality-of-Life” studies into an academic discipline in its own right.
It does not end there. The Executive Dean at our Faculty of Education, Prof Sarah Gravett, has been reappointed by the Minister of Basic Education, Hon Ms Angie Motshekga on the South African Council of Educators (SACE). She has also been appointed by the Director General of the Department of Basic Education, as a member of the South African Education Sector National Commission for UNESCO. Congratulations Prof Gravett and Prof Greyling for flying the UJ flag high, we are immensely proud of you!
I also have the pleasure to inform you that Professor Derek van der Merwe, Acting University General Counsel, will be serving as the Acting Senior Executive Director, University Relations, Student Affairs and UJ Sport, in the absence of Dr Nolitha Vukuza, who is on sick leave. Prof Van der Merwe will be serving in this role with effect from 01 May 2021 to 30 June 2021.
I would also like to welcome two new members to our University’s professorship. Professors Ina Wagenaar and Nicolette Houreld who recently delivered their professorial inaugurations. Congratulations to you both, I trust that the journey ahead will be fruitful.
I would also like to reiterate our commitment to knowledge generation through research and innovation. This week, the University Research Committee reflected on our research output performance since 2005. The alignment of UJ’s research strategy secured an outstanding track record in research. Much appreciation to the UJ community for the research output contribution. Additionally, UJ became a sponsor to a new initiative called Nature Africa, a digital magazine which reports on science and issues relevant to sub-Saharan Africa. Nature Africa was set up to recognise the groundbreaking research that emerges from Africa but often does not receive adequate coverage.
This coming Monday, 17 May 2021, between 10:00 and 12:00, I will have a Consultation Session with the University Senior Leadership Group (SLG) on some important matters at our institution. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it challenges that require us to continue to reimagine our business model while staying alert to the threats it poses and the opportunities it presents. I will share the outcomes of the discussions with the rest of the University community next week.
Monday also marks the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. UJ joins the rest of the global community in commemorating this important day that is dedicated towards educating communities about the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer+ (LGBTIQ+) community. UJ respects and upholds South Africa’s Constitution, which was the first in the world to protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender expressions.
With regards to the VC Reading Group, please join me for my latest recommended book read next week on Friday, 21 May 2021, at the usual time of 14:00. My book of choice this time is The Open Society and its Enemies by Karl Popper. It is a landmark defence of democracy that has been hailed as one of the most important books of the twentieth century by the Princeton University Press. Click here and join in the conversation. If you missed our previous reading session, here is the recording.
Finally, to those who observed Ascension Day this week, I trust it was spiritually nourishing and fulfilling. To our Muslim staff and students who are celebrating today, Eid Mubarak! Despite the continued uncertainty of life in the pandemic and the difficulty in convening with friends and family, I wish you a joyful and peaceful celebration.
Please continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for valuable information, including health and wellbeing. Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: https://www.uj.ac.za/news/corona-virus//. We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times.
Ndo livhuwa, enkosi, baie dankie!
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg
Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.