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Vice-Chancellor Message – 24 November 2023

Dear UJ community,

As the year draws to an end, our University has been a hive of joyful activity, with various divisions and faculties celebrating awards and other achievements. These are a culmination of what has been a challenging but successful year. Above all, they represent the triumph of our shared vision and dedication to our resolve to position UJ as a leading institution of higher learning, nationally and globally.

Vice-Chancellor Distinguished Awards

On Wednesday evening, I hosted the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Awards recognising our academic and support/administrative staff’s exceptional contributions this year. The award categories are for the Most Promising Teacher of the Year; Teacher Excellence, Most Promising Young Researcher of the Year, Outstanding Researcher of the Year, Highest Cited Researcher, Global Excellence and Stature 4.0, and Service Beyond the Normal Call of Duty.

I am acutely aware that every year, it becomes increasingly difficult to narrow down the awardees. This culture of Excellence seems to have gripped much of the University and has seen us soar to new heights in recent years. I was struck by all that the winners have accomplished this year. To read about the complete list of winners, click here.

MACE Awards

UJ has once again shown its dominance in marketing and communication, scooping 15 awards at the 2023 MACE (Marketing, Advancement, and Communication in Education) Excellence Awards. The awards ceremony, a highlight of the annual MACE congress, took place last week on Thursday, 16 November 2023, at the University of the Western Cape. A record of 255 entries were submitted, with 153 awards conferred to 17 South African universities and TVET colleges.

The UJ News website, Project One Million, Cloudebates Series and the weekly VC Newsletter were among the winners. Other notable awardees were the Livestreaming of the High Tea with the VC 2022, the Societal Impact Video Campaign, the Digital Badges that were rolled out to our Alumni,  and the 2022 Stakeholder Report. Congratulations to our Strategic Communications, Marketing and Brand, and our UJ Alumni teams for their outstanding achievements. To read more about this, click here.

UJ Sport Awards

Earlier this week, our Sport Division honoured and celebrated student-athletes who have excelled at sports championships locally and abroad during the 2023 UJ Sport Awards. Congratulations to our first-year students Tsebo Matsoso and Joviale Mbisha for winning the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards, respectively. Gymnast and second-year student, Caitlin Rooskrantz, won both the Age-Group Sportswoman of the Year and the Student-Athlete of the Year Awards. To read more about the winner of the other categories, please click here.

(L-R) Caitlin Rooskrantz, Tsebo Matsoso and Joviale Mbisha

Accolades for UJ Sport for Students with Disabilities Club

Furthermore, our UJ Sport for Students with Disabilities Club was named the Sport Team of the Year with a Disability at the 2023 Gauteng Sports Awards this past Saturday. I am also thrilled that Ms. Nomsa Mahlangu, Senior Director: UJ Sport, was recently elected to the top structures of global university sport as one of the Executive Members of the International University Sports Federation (FISU). Ms. Mahlangu’s term and the newly elected members at FISU will run till 2027. Well done and thank you for flying the UJ flag higher!

Top Tutor Awards

Tutors play an integral role in student teaching and learning. In recognition of this role, the Centre for Academic Staff Development (CASD), within the Division for Teaching Excellence, hosted the Top Tutor Awards on the 17th of November. Faculties were invited to nominate ten of their top tutors to receive this award. The Top Tutor Award recognises and acknowledges the important role that tutors play in teaching and learning in their respective faculties. Sixty-one tutors were awarded certificates. UJ commends these tutors for their contributions to student learning. Well done to all the recipients!

Service Excellence Awards

Talking of tutors, the UJ Community Engagement Unit, within University Relations, also held an award ceremony to recognise Faculties/Divisions for the most impactful and sustainable community engagement projects. The winning projects are as follows:

  • First Place: Water Wise Warriors: Hygiene and Sustainable Water Practices (Faculty of Health Sciences)
  • Second Place: Gwakwani Smart Village (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment)
  • Third Place: Eastern Cape Water Provision (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment). Click here to read more about this.

I congratulate all the award winners across the University for their hard work and commitment to innovation and excellence in their various areas of expertise. I also thank their various leaders, including the Management Executive Committee (MEC) and Executive Leadership Group (ELG) members for their guidance and support to their respective team members.

I am reminded of the words of the philosopher Aristotle who once said, “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

Watch the full ceremony here:

Higher Education Risk Management Conference

Lastly, effective risk management is paramount for the long-term viability and prosperity of both Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and various industries. On Tuesday, our University hosted 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.

It was interesting listening to risk management professionals, academics, researchers, and industry experts sharing insights on their research findings and experiences on emergent risk management advancements and trends, as well as challenges and opportunities, among other issues. I hope that the outcomes of the deliberations will echo far beyond the walls and influence policies, shape industries, and impact the lives of millions. Click here to read more about this.

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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