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Vice-Chancellor Message – 20 October 2023

Dear UJ Community,

As I watched our national rugby team pull off a stunning once-in-a-lifetime victory against France in the World Cup last weekend, I thought hard and long about the spirit and resilience demonstrated. I could not help but think about the parallels with our students. Whether in academia or sport, our students have triumphed, even in the face of fierce opposition and challenges. As we approach the end of the year, I know that it is this very spirit and resilience that will carry you through.

End-of-year exams and assessments 

With the end-of-year examinations and assessments beginning next week on Thursday, 26 October 2023, I wish each one of our students all the best. I urge our students to make the most of the study period, which starts tomorrow, and use this time wisely to revise all that you have learned during the semester. You have come a long way, and your hard work and dedication have brought you to this point. I encourage you to remain focused and maintain the same spirit as we approach the final stretch.

Remember that should you ever feel anxious or overwhelmed, please do not hesitate to contact our Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCaD). PsyCaD is here to support students in various ways. Whether you prefer a walk-in service, individual counselling sessions, or need immediate assistance through our 24-hour Crisis Line (082 054 1137), help is readily available without the need for an appointment. I am confident that your hard work will pay off, and the results at the end of this period will be something to celebrate!

Eastern Cape Water Project

I recently shared news about the Gwakwani Smart Village project in Limpopo, which is an initiative to showcase how technology can power sustainable development for the betterment of society. Our university recently launched the Eastern Cape Water Provision Project, a pioneering initiative. This initiative uses technology to provide clean drinking water to four villages in the OR Tambo District of the Eastern Cape.

The technology used harvests clean water from atmospheric vapour, addressing a critical need in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The project is a collaboration between UJ PEETS (the Process, Energy & Environmental Technology Station) within the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) and SOURCE Global, in partnership with the Faculty of Health Science’s Water and Health Research Centre (WHRC). It not only enhances health and well-being but also promotes economic development, education, and a better quality of life for the residents. I wish to thank Professor Daniel Mashao (Executive Dean, FEBE) and his team for initiating this special project that emphasises societal impact.

Transversing Africa by Bus

One of the important projects that we have introduced in recent years is Africa by Bus, which is part of our University’s Pan-African agenda and continental collaboration initiatives. A delegation of six staff members and 39 students from our College of Business and Economics (CBE) travelled to Gaborone, Botswana, from Sunday, 3 September until Saturday, 9 September 2023.

The objective of this programme is to expose students to other learning institutions outside South Africa, possible foreign markets, international business, and different African cultures and align our students’ knowledge with African views around the application of technology in commerce. The group spent a day at the University of Botswana, engaging with lecturers and students. They also spent a day at a Builders Warehouse in Gaborone, touring their front and back-end operations. The rest of the week was spent visiting the cultural and historical sights of Botswana. I thank everyone involved in organising such a successful trip.

Stakeholder Engagement

In an era where society increasingly faces complex challenges across all spheres of life, UJ, as a leading institution of higher learning, recognises the importance of initiatives that contribute towards solving societal problems. On Wednesday this week, our College of Business and Economics (CBE) hosted industry stakeholders across various sectors to explore new avenues and foster relationships to shape innovative pathways that can bridge academia, industry, and the broader community.

Convened under the theme, Connecting Pathways, the gathering sought to pave the way for a more sustainable and impactful future and spur change in our society and the economy. I commend Professor Lungile Ntsalaze, the Executive Dean of CBE, for hosting such a successful event.

VC Staff Engagement

I thank everyone who attended the VC Campus Engagement at the Auckland Bunting (ABP) Campus this past Monday. I invite you to the last leg of this event on Thursday next week at the Auckland Park Kingsway (APK) Campus, from 11:00 –12:30 pm. 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.

High Tea with the VC

I remind you not to miss my last book discussion of the year this afternoon as Xoli KaMadlala joins me for a discussion of her book, The Peri Menopausal Globetrotter. Incidentally, October is World Menopause Awareness Month, aimed at outlining support options available to women to ensure a continued high quality of life. The event returns to the UJ Library in the Chinua Achebe Auditorium Level 6, APK Campus, at 14:00. For in-person attendance, kindly RSVP here. For virtual attendance, click here. You can also livestream on UJTV.

Annual Memorial Service

On a sombre note, we held the Annual Memorial Service to honour our staff and students who have passed on in the past year (October 2022 – October 2023). In an increasingly demanding world, our lives are so fast-paced, which often does not leave us with the space and time to grieve or take a moment to honour those we have lost. As mentioned during the service, I take comfort in the legacy that those we have lost have left us with the lessons they have imparted, the kindness they showed, and the love they shared. May their souls rest in eternal peace.

Good luck to the Springboks and the Proteas

Finally, I wish our Springboks and the Proteas the best of luck in their World Cup matches this weekend. As fate has it, both their opponents are teams from England. Both fixtures are scheduled for tomorrow, so it is going to be a tension-filled but thrilling day guaranteed to keep us on the edge of our seats.

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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