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Vice-Chancellor Message –14 October 2022

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Prof Kinta Banner

Dear UJ Community,

As you know, collaborations and partnerships with national and international universities, as well as industry partners, are important to expand our University’s impact. A UJ delegation is currently on a working visit to the United States of America. The delegation has been exploring opportunities with various institutions and interested parties on fund-raising, research collaboration, and academic exchange programmes.

Our Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, is leading the delegation, which includes Prof Letlhokwa Mpedi (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Vice-Chancellor (Designate)), Dr Nolitha Vukuza (Senior Executive Director: University Relations, Student Affairs and UJ Sport), Ms Nolwazi Mamorare (CFO), 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), and Ms Daphney Nemakhavhani (Director: Development & Fundraising).

Among the places and institutions that the delegation visited is Silicon Valley, a global centre of technological innovation, where many of the high-technology design and manufacturing companies are concentrated. Other interesting sites visited were Rest of World, an international journalism NGO, to explore a collaboration on Science and Technology journalism, as well as Stanford University (where 40% of students major in computer science), Google, AirBnB, and the Mellon Foundation. I wish the delegation only the very best for the rest of their stay in the USA, and we look forward to the future collaborations they are forging.

A senior delegation from the University of South Carolina is currently visiting UJ, and is being jointly hosted by the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Health Sciences. The delegation includes Prof Cheryl Addy (Vice-Provost), Prof Thomas Chandler (Dean of the Arnold School of Public Health), Prof Stephen Cutler (Dean of the College of Pharmacy), Prof Xiaoming Li (the South Carolina SmartState Endowed Chair in Clinical Translational Research and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Psychology at UJ), as well as Prof Sharon Weissman (Department Chair and Chief of Infectious Diseases), Dr Banky Olatosi, (Department of Health Services Policy and Management), and Dr Oluwafemi Adeagbo (an affiliate of the SmartState Center for Healthcare Quality, and a Visiting Professor in the Sociology Department at UJ). Prof Xiaoming Li is currently the world’s most-cited author in AIDS Care-Psychological and Socio-Medical aspects of HIV/AIDS (Lifetime).

We are currently in the midst of our Summer graduation series. As is the norm during graduation seasons, UJ also confers Honorary Doctorates to individuals in recognition of their significant contributions to their specific fields or outstanding service to society.  During the current Summer graduation series, UJ honours six luminaries, including two Nobel Prize laureates – one in Literature (2021) and another in Chemistry (2013). The cohort of Honorary Doctorate recipients are:

  • Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong: a Chinese-South African transplant surgeon, businessman, bio-scientist, and media proprietor.
  • Professor Khaled Ben Letaief: an internationally recognised leader in wireless communications and networks with research interest in big data analytic systems, mobile cloud and edge computing, tactile Internet, 5G systems and beyond.
  • Professor Michael Levitt: a Nobel Prize recipient in Chemistry (awarded in 2013). He is a South African-born biophysicist and a professor of structural biology at Stanford University.
  • Ms Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: author and public speaker.
  • Professor Robert Doyle Bullard: a leading figure in environmental justice scholarship and activism.
  • Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah: the first black African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (awarded in 2021) since the world-acclaimed novelist Prof Wole Soyinka in 1986.

During this graduation series, which commenced on the 12th of October, 465 undergraduate qualifications will be conferred as well as 390 postgraduate qualifications, including 325 Master’s degrees and 65 Doctoral degrees. Not only are these qualifications a personal triumph for the students, but they are also a momentous achievement that will help contribute towards an improved livelihood for their families and the upliftment of their communities and society at large.

In other news, please join me in congratulating Prof Adri Drotskie, Director of the School of Management in the College of Business and Economics (CBE), and Prof Corné Davis, Department of Strategic Communication in the Faculty of Humanities, who were nominated for the International Women of Stature Awards 2023. ‘Women of Stature’ is an international organisation that has been growing over the past five years into one of the most prestigious awards platforms for women. Prof Drotskie and Prof Davis, thank you for advancing the UJ future identity!

I also wish to congratulate Prof Marlize Lombard, a Research Chair and Professor of Archaeology at the Palaeo-Research Institute in the Faculty of Humanities, who has been instated as a Fellow of The Royal Society of South Africa. She was instated into this role due to her outstanding work in the furtherance of science in South Africa. Prof Lombard has a long-standing career in archaeological research where she leads research teams which examine the human story behind the abundant fossil and archaeological record through interdisciplinary research programmes which combine specialisations in gene-culture, brain-culture, and gene-brain co-evolution. Well done Prof Lombard, and best wishes in the latest of your many roles.

In the same vein, I am pleased to announce that, with the support of The National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), Mr Rowan Karstel, CEO of Tumelo Coal Mines, has been appointed as  Chair of the Steering Committee of DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Integrated Mineral and Energy Resource Analysis (CIMERA). CIMERA is co-hosted by UJ and the University of the Witwatersrand. Mr Karstel, this appointment is testimony of the good work you continue to do, and we look forward to your leadership.

On a different note, many undergraduate students are involved in research, but very few get a chance to present their research at a conference. Our Division of Academic Development Centre (ADC), in collaboration with the faculties and CBE, arranged and hosted the second UJ Undergraduate Research Conference, on Tuesday 11 October, at the APK Library. The conference consisted of 19 student presentations ranging from the Detection of E.coli in Water to Pavement Design; and from Developing an Augmented Reality Model to the History of Modern Consumerism. The students made excellent presentations, which prompted lively debates among the more than 100 attendees. I would like to extend my congratulations on taking these important academic strides to this new generation of emerging scholars and their supervisors.

Last Friday, the French Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, Ms Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, visited our UJ Arts Centre, a division of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture (FADA), for the Paths to Democracy’ dialogue, which focuses on revitalising democracy through innovation and creativity. Also in attendance were the French Ambassador Aurélien Lechevallier and representatives from the French Embassy and from the French Institute in South African (IFAS). The minister also delivered the conclusions of the second session of the Forum Paths to Democracy held at the Cultural centre theatre. As Ambassador Lechevallier aptly put it: “Europe and Africa are facing similar challenges as we witness a widening gap between the youth and the political scene. Through this series of debates, we hope to encourage dialogue across the continents and generate new ideas to strengthen our democracies.”

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


Professor Kinta Burger

Vice-Chancellor and Principal (Acting)

University of Johannesburg             

Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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