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Vice-Chancellor Message – 17 November 2023

Dear UJ community,

I wish to start by thanking the Paramount Chief of the Abeadze Kingdom in Ghana, his Royal Majesty Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi VII, for coronating me as a Chief of the Abeadze Kingdom in Ghana on Monday this week. I am deeply humbled by this honour, which is in recognition of my contributions to research, education, and mentorship in Ghana. All these areas stem from my passion and deep commitment to Pan-Africanism and societal impact. The coronation also signifies my deep-rooted connection to Ghana, something I am immensely proud of as an African.

A collaboration for societal impact and creating future African leaders

It was indeed an event worthy of royalty, full of pomp and splendour. During the annual Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi VII festival in Ghana in August next year (2024), I will be introduced as a Chief to the Abeadze people. I look forward to working with Ghanaian institutions and individuals, and together, we will continue to collaborate and exchange knowledge to mentor young people as future leaders. I dedicate this honour to the entire University of Johannesburg (UJ) Community for your encouragement and support. I also thank all our staff members who helped organise such a successful event. To read more about this, click here.

Professor Mpedi takes his oath of office during the coronation ceremony. Photo: Nokuthula Mbatha/University of Johannesburg

UJ academics inaugurated as members of SA’s Academy of Science

I am pleased to share that Professors Umesh Ramnarain and Salim Vally, both from the Faculty of Education, were among the 38 leading scholars and scientists inaugurated as Members of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) at the annual Awards Ceremony on 9 November 2023. Their election to ASSAf is a testament to their outstanding scholarly achievements and contributions to broader South African society. Well done! Click here to read more about this.

Professorial inauguration

This week, we welcomed Trynos Gumbo, a Smart and Sustainable Cities and Regions professor, to the UJ Professorship. His inaugural lecture titled Whose smartness matters?: (Re)-imagining sustainable cities from the Global South, was a compelling call for a paradigm shift in sustainable urban development in the Global South, among other issues. Congratulations, Prof Gumbo. I wish you all the best on your professional journey!

Watch the inauguration here:

Long service awards

Today, the University will recognise 425 staff members who have attained ten years or longer in the service. There are 136 recipients of these awards today. Quite astonishingly, when we break this down, there are 50 staff members in the 20-year group, 45 in the 25-year group, 25 in the 30-year group, 9 in the 35-year group, and 7 in the 40-year group. I am most grateful to these colleagues for their years of service to UJ and eagerly look forward to the next few decades with many of them as we continue to reimagine the future together!

Higher Education Risk Conference comes to UJ

Next Tuesday, UJ will host the 2023 chapter of the Strategic Risk Leadership Conversation on Higher Education Conference under the theme: “Embracing Technology and Managing Risks in the evolving world amid current African Challenges”. The effective management of risks is of paramount importance for the long-term viability and prosperity of both Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and various industries. The primary objective of this conference is to facilitate the convergence of experts from diverse HEIs, with the aim of deliberating on the most recent advancements and optimal approaches in the field of risk management.

The conference will provide a forum for professionals to share their risk management experiences, insights, and research findings in HEIs. It will facilitate discussions on emergent risk management trends, challenges and opportunities, and promote networking and collaboration among risk management professionals, academics, researchers, and industry experts. It will also facilitate the exchange of ideas, strategies, and best practices to improve HEIs’ and industries’ risk management practices and encourage the creation of novel approaches and solutions for addressing risk management challenges. The conference will take place at the UJ Arts and Culture Centre on our Auckland Park Kingsway Campus. Please RSVP if you wish to attend the event (either in person or online).

Celebrating UJ Sport achievements

This year has been one of the most successful periods for our sport teams at the national and international events. Our student-athletes have won gold, silver and bronze medals in the World University Games, the University Sport South Africa championships and FNB Varsity Sports competitions. Next week, Tuesday, 21 November 2023, the University will celebrate excellence in the Sport division during the annual Sport Gala.

More than 30 student-athletes will be celebrated for their achievements in the seven award categories. These include the sportsman and sportswoman of the year, Age Group sportsman and sportswoman of the year, Club Sportsperson of the Year, Student-Athlete of the Year and Team/Club of the Year. The Sports Gala will be streamed live on our Sport Facebook page and the official UJ YouTube channel. Please tune in and share your thoughts on the Awards by tweeting and posting on social media using the #UJSportAwards2023 and #UJAllTheWay.

Bonne chance Proteas

I commend our national cricket team, the Proteas, for their sterling performance in the ICC World Cup. Although they lost to Australia yesterday, they did well to qualify for the semi-finals. This is not an easy feat, given the quality of the teams in the tournament.

Book Launch

Lastly, I wish to thank everyone who attended the launch of my latest book, From the Baobab to the Mosquito: Rethinking Leadership Through Africa Sayings, at Exclusive Books Rosebank on Wednesday. The book draws inspiration from African culture and approaches to challenge the prevailing systems. The royalties from the book will be placed in a fund to support academically deserving students at UJ.

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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