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Vice-Chancellor Message – 15 September 2023

Dear UJ Community,

It gives me great pleasure to address you as the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal while Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi is away on a working trip in Osaka, Japan. He is attending a meeting of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP). Prof Mpedi serves on the Association as the Vice-President for Africa. He is accompanied by Prof Ylva Rodny-Gumede (Senior Director Division for Internationalisation).

UJ’s global footprint shines in the Land of the Rising Sun

Delivering an opening address at a panel discussion on Transformational Leadership in Higher Education, Prof Mpedi took the audience through UJ’s landscape as a destination of higher learning committed to both access and excellence. Prof Mpedi spoke passionately about societal impact, imploring his colleagues that the vision, mission and activities of universities must translate into transformed communities. On behalf of the UJ community, I express my gratitude to IAUP’s work in fostering global collaboration across the higher education landscape with a focus on equity, inclusion, diversity and belonging.

Surfing the choppy internet space with Google

On Monday and Tuesday this week, UJ – through our Centre for Data and Digital Communication (CDDC) within the Department of Communication and the Institute of Artificial Intelligence at JBS – hosted the Google Africa Internet Academy. This was the fifth edition of this premier event, which brings together business and technology leaders from across Africa to discuss the latest trends in technology policy and regulation, among other topics.

I have been informed that the event was a resounding success, with insightful discussions about Google and its focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and the collection and use of personal information. Other issues discussed were the economic opportunities that AI presents, the impact of data-driven technologies on people and society and how to curb the spread of illegal and harmful content with unfair bias and abuse. I thank Prof Mandla Radebe (Director: CDDC) and Dr Randall Carolissen (Dean: JBS) and their teams for organising such a successful event. Watch the event below:

UJ Sport soars higher and higher

As our various national sport teams compete in international competitions, so do our own teams, which continue to do us proud. I am particularly pleased to note that the UJ Netball team has qualified for the Varsity Sports Finals for the first time since the inception of the competition in 2013. This is a remarkable achievement, and it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the players, technical team, and support staff.

UJ vs NWU in 2023 FNB Varsity Netball semifinal in Tshwane
UJ vs NWU in 2023 FNB Varsity Netball semifinal in Tshwane

I would like to congratulate Ms Samantha Ngubane for her incredible achievement in being offered a contract to play in the Super League in England for Strathclyde Sirens Netball Club. She is the first UJ Netball Player to be offered a contract for an overseas franchise. Congratulations Samantha, all the best! Our football team has also qualified for the finals of the Varsity Cup after defeating the University of the North West. I wish them the best in the finals, when they will face the winner between the University of the Western Cape and Tshwane of University of Technology.

Recognition for UJ staff

As communicated recently, several of our academic staff members were nominated in the HERSA-SA Higher Education Women Leaders Awards (HER-SA HEWL). These inaugural awards annually celebrate extraordinary women leaders who make a positive impact in and outside their universities and inspire, motivate and lead others to achieve their best. I congratulate Prof Heidi Abrahamse (Director of the Laser Research Centre within the UJ Faculty of Health Sciences) for winning the Lifetime Achiever category. To read more about this, click here.

I also congratulate Ms Precious Maputle (Marketing Coordinator: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment), who was recently announced as the winner of the 2023 Mail & Guardian top 50 “Power of Women” awards in the category of “governing women”. She was recognised for her role in exposing learners in the lower quintile schools and those in rural areas to science, technology, engineering and maths subject choices.

Professorial inaugurations

Congratulations to both Profs Suné von Solms and Richard Greenfield on their respective professorial inaugurations this week. Professor von Solms, as the Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Science, highlighted the importance of people, education, and technology in her inaugural address. Her commitment to active learning and real-world experience has significantly benefited engineering students, transforming both their potential and the educational landscape.

Prof Greenfield’s academic journey underscores his dedication to zoology and ecotoxicology. His research addressing environmental issues related to metals, persistent organic pollutants, and microplastics showcases his contributions to science. Both professors’ achievements and contributions to their fields are commendable, and we look forward to their continued impact on education and research at the university.

Second Semester VC Campus Engagements

Next week Tuesday, 19 September, we will begin with the second semester Campus Engagement sessions. These sessions are organised to help bring a close interaction between management and employees on current and pertinent University matters. We will meet in Room 2120 Exam Centre, John Orr Building. If there are any specific issues you would like to have addressed at the engagement or if you have a question, please send an email to bernicem@uj.ac.za. The rest of the sessions will take place as follows:

  • Friday, 22 September 2023 – SWC: 10:00-11:30
  • Monday, 16 October 2023 – APB Campus:10:30-12:00
  • Thursday, 26 October 2023 – APK: 11:00-12:30

High Tea with the VC

On behalf of Prof Mpedi, I invite you to the next High Tea with the VC book discussion on Friday, 22 September 2023, when we will discuss the book Awakened to My True Self, by Nonkululeko Gobodo. Nonkululeko is the CEO of AWAKENED Global, a social initiative, and was the first African woman to qualify as a chartered accountant in South Africa in 1987. She is also the former Chairman and founder of SizweNtsalubaGobodo, now SNG Grant Thornton, the largest black auditing and accounting firm in South Africa. We will meet at the UJ Arts Theatre at 14h00 (CAT).

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

Dr Nolitha Vukuza: Vice-Chancellor and Principal (Acting)

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

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