Dear UJ Community,
After a short and well-deserved break, our academic staff and students have returned to campuses this week. I hope you all had a good rest and are well prepared for the last lap of what has been a demanding but successful academic year thus far.
As I reflected on the week that was, I am thrilled to announce that UJ launched the first Centre for Neurodiversity in the country. Based at our Soweto campus, the Centre will be involved in community work within the larger Soweto area as well as surrounding communities in order to address a glaring gap. The aim of the centre is to address the neurodevelopmental learning needs of children and youth, particularly in underprivileged and underserved communities, through a multi-pronged approach, including but not limited to training teachers and other stakeholders on neurodivergent learning needs, therapeutic and learning needs intervention for learners and youth, parent support and development and community engagement and empowerment. The Centre is the result of a collaboration between our Department of Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the European Union (EU). Prof Maximus Sefotho and Prof Boitumelo Diale, this is an exceptional offering, well done!
More good news this week is that UJ was awarded the best University Chapter at the 2022 Annual ASABA Conference and Excellence Awards. ASABA is the Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals, and the ASABA UJ Chapter is a student-run organisation supported by the Department of Statistics, with Soshan Soobramoney (lecturer) as their internal mentor. The organisation has been recognised for its well-run mentorship programme, student events and school outreach activity. Congratulations to all involved!
On the research front, I am pleased to announce that Prof Mpho Raborife, the Deputy Director: Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS), was recently awarded the NRF Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers. Prof Raborife is an NRF-rated researcher specialising in computational linguistics. The evolutionary processes in indigenous languages are understudied, and Prof Raborife’s work is uniquely focused on the implementation of the Sesotho sound system onto developed speech technologies. Congratulations to Prof Raborife on this award – it is well deserved!
This month marks a celebration of our nation’s diverse culture and heritage. You might recall that a few weeks back Mr Arthur Mahlangu, a visual artist and first-year student in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), won the grand prize at the Ricoffy Heritage Tin Competition. The design-the-tin competition promotes creative expression and asked consumers to enter designs depicting their personal pride and heritage. Mr Mahlangu’s successful entry spoke to his background and inspiration, infusing Ndebele and Kasi-inspired patterns in the award-winning design. His design will be featured on South Africa’s retail shelves during Heritage Month as limited-edition Nescafé Ricoffy tins. Watch his interview here.
Earlier this week, UJ sent out a circular about the VC Campus Engagement Session with staff at the Doornfontein campus on Monday, 19 September 2022. The VC Campus Engagement sessions are organised to help bring about a close interaction between management and employees on current and pertinent University matters. The upcoming engagement sessions for other campuses will all take place as follows: Auckland Park Bunting Road Campus, Tuesday, 4 October 2022; the Soweto Campus, Friday, 7 October 2022; and the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, Tuesday, 11 October 2022.
Lastly, I wish to invite you to the VC August Hybrid 2022 Reading Group today, at the usual timeslot of 14h00 (CAT), in Room, Level 3, Auckland Park Campus. This time, we will discuss the book, Winners and How They Succeed by Alastair Campbell. Prof Bhaso Ndzendze, Head of Department and Associate Professor, Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), Faculty of Humanities will facilitate the discussion.
- To join in the conversation, click here https://zoom.us/j/9413367438
- In-person attendance: the University of Johannesburg Library, Alan Paton Board
Have a pleasant weekend ahead and take care!
Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa, thank you!
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg
Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.