Vice-Chancellor Message – 19 August 2022

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Dear UJ Community,

I have previously highlighted our University’s role in helping solve societal problems through impactful research and thought leadership. Hardly a day goes by without reading an article or listening to UJ experts sharing their insights on current affairs and significant developments in our country and beyond our borders. At UJ, we pride ourselves as a leading University that not only influences public debates but also as an institution that contributes to the production of new knowledge for the advancement of society.

Some articles appearing in the mainstream media are commissioned by editors, while others are offered to the press voluntarily. This was evident this week, as South Africa marked a decade since striking mineworkers were shot and killed at Marikana in the North-West Province. In this case, allow me to mention Professors Kate Alexander (South African Research Chair in Social Change), Luke Sinwell (Associate Professor & Project Coordinator: Centre for Sociological Research and Practice Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities) and Dr Trevor Ngwane (Director of the Centre for Sociological Research and Practice Staff).

They all contributed to the debate on this issue through thought leadership articles or expert commentary. In fact, Dr Ngwane has been invited to the Mail & Guardian’s exclusive event today at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. An exciting development lately has been the emergence of young academics and senior students whose articles now regularly appear on various media platforms. I urge those who are yet to pen opinion articles to do so. This is good for your professional profiles and UJ. Please liaise with our Strategic Communications Unit, within the University Relations Division, which leads this process, for guidance. You may contact Mr Lebogang Seale (Senior Manager, Strategic Communications) on

On this note, I invite you to join other UJ experts and me as we appear on various PowerFM talk show programmes from 22 – 29 August 2022. I will set the ball rolling this coming Monday (22 August 2022) when I appear on POWER Talk (Lerato Mbele’s show). The rest of the UJ line-up is as follows:

  • Tuesday, 23 August 2022: Dr Kirti Menon (Senior Director, Division of Teaching and Excellence) – POWER Lunch with Faith Mangope
  • Wednesday, 24 August 2023: Prof Refilwe Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya (Director at SAMRC/UJ PACER, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health) POWER Drive with Thabiso Kotane.
  • Thursday, 25 August 2022: Prof Philiswa Nosizo Nomngongo (DSI-NRF SARChI: Nanotechnology for Water) – POWER Breakfast with Thabiso Tema (TT)
  • Monday, 29 August 2022 (Prof Bhaso Ndzendze, Head: Department of Politics and International Relations) – POWER Perspective.

Still on research and thought leadership matters, the UJ Teaching Innovation Fund (TIF) provides funding to support academics in becoming more innovative in teaching and fostering the scholarship of teaching and learning. Since 2020, the Division of Teaching Excellence (DTE) has provided opportunities for academic innovators to share their experiences across the University in person and print. DTE has released its second publication, which showcases these teaching and learning innovations. We hope you will be inspired by the creative ways our academics continue to respond to the teaching and learning needs of our University: Teaching Innovation for the 21st Century: Showcasing UJ Teaching and Learning 2021. To Prof Mpedi and the DTE team, well done for these teaching and learning innovations!

Last week, I mentioned that the Kenyan government announced introducing coding and computer programming teaching in public schools. This is part of the government’s plans to equip 20 million Kenyans with digital skills to operate effectively in the digital economy. At UJ, we have always understood the importance of infusing science and technology in our education as an indispensable way to empower our people for future jobs.

You will recall that our University has intensified its outreach with part-and full-time online short learning programmes to help upskill and reskill people for current and future jobs. This aligns with our Global Excellence and Stature (GES) 4.0 strategic objective underpinned by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). I am pleased to announce that our University will launch a new FREE short learning course for UJ staff, students, and the public on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With this course, which is an initiative of our Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, Prof Letlhokwa Mpedi, we want to raise broader awareness about the issues of sustainability that require attention and global efforts. In general, universities that do not positively impact their societies do not deserve to be called ‘universities’. That is why we decided to design this course because we want to be part of the solutions to the issues affecting South Africa and the African continent. To Prof Mpedi and the Academic Development and Support, well done!

As communicated in the last two weeks, our University has been hosting a series of events and seminars focusing on women’s empowerment in commemoration of Women’s Month, under the theme, Women’s Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment: Building Back Better for Women’s Improved Resilience. We will communicate some of the events as the dates approach this month. However, for now, Higher Health invites you to a roundtable engagement with the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, this coming week on Monday, 22 August 2022. The event, to be held at Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein from 09:00 – 12:00, will discuss issues affecting young people in the Public Service Sector Education and Training (PSET) institutions. The topics to be discussed are Gender-Based Violence, Gender Diversity and Gender Equity. The event is hybrid and will be live-streamed on the department’s social media platforms. To register, click here.

Yesterday, we hosted the UJ 2021 Stakeholder Report Launch – an important event on our University calendar where we pause to reflect on the achievements and challenges of the past year. It was the last time I presented this report, and I could not help being emotional as I reminisced on the journey we have travelled together since I assumed the position of Vice-Chancellor and Principal almost five years ago. I have spoken at great length about how this University has grown in leaps and bounds across all areas, from research and academic development and global rankings.

It was pleasing to hear our guest speaker, Mr Peter Armitage, founder and CEO of Anchor Capital, sharing his insights on the topic of the event, Leading in the Face of Global and National Socio-Economic Challenges: Instruments for local solutions? UJ Council Chair Mr Teke was also at his best as he briefly reflected on his role at UJ. As usual, he reminded us about the importance of ensuring that our campuses are safe and enriching learning and working environments. You may download the report here..

On book reading matters, Mr Teke invites you to his Hybrid Reading Group next week on Friday, 26 August 2022, at the usual time of 14h00 (CAT). This time, he will lead us through a discussion of the book, The Man Who Broke Capitalism – How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America—and How to Undo His Legacy by David Gelles, which is listed in New York Times Bestseller.

To join the discussion, Click here:

In-person attendance: APK Library, Alan Paton Board Room, Level 3


Lastly, I wish to remind you of the second round of the UJ Cleaning Campaign, which started three weeks ago across all four campuses, from 12:00 to 13:00. The last of the campaign in this round takes place today at the Soweto Campus (SWC. Lembede Garden is the assembly and final point.)

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

Issued by:   

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

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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