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Vice-Chancellor Message – 29 July 2022

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Dear UJ Community,

Since the announcement of my appointment as the Rector of the United Nations University (UNU) this week, I have been inundated with requests for media interviews. I wish I could have accepted each of these requests, because that would have given me the opportunity to say the many things I wanted to regarding this momentous development in my life and career and of course, the invaluable role that UJ has played in shaping who I am. However, due to my tight travelling schedule and other commitments, I could not avail myself for these interviews as much as I would have loved to.

The appointment is with effect from 1 March 2023. I wish to assure the UJ Community that until then, I remain committed to continuing to do my work with unwavering dedication, as my team and I continue to position UJ among the leading universities in Africa and internationally. I will say more on this at the appropriate time.

For now, however, I will say that I have full confidence that we have a capable team to ensure that this great University continues on its growth trajectory across all areas, as outlined in its mission and vision statements. To echo our University’s Chair of Council, Mr Mike Teke, we are an international University of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future with robust systems in place to ensure that there is business continuity and that our strategies to attain the highest level of performance remain our focus. I could not have phrased it any better.

Allow me to express my gratitude to all the people who have sent me congratulatory messages on my appointment. There are far too many people to mention here, including from representatives of government, the various embassies of South Africa, corporates and NGOs, as well as colleagues from UJ and sister universities in South Africa, on the African continent and abroad.

However, with your indulgence, I wish to acknowledge President Cyril Ramaphosa for his kind and inspiring words. I thank the President of Namibia, Dr Hage Geingob, for his inspiring words too. I also wish to thank Dr Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, as well as Dr Bonginkosi “Blade” Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, for their warm wishes. I have taken note of Minister Nzimande’s words, and vow that I will not completely lose touch with the South African higher education system.

It has been an emotional week and among the messages that have touched me is one from my old friend and counterpart at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Professor Tinyiko Maluleke. His warm message reads: “How I wish your dear father – your first maths teacher – was still around to see you go global, literally. But I’m thankful that your dear mother, Vho Khathutshelo Regina Marwala, that dignified women who brought you up, is alive, to see you rise and rise.”

I know it is still too early as I am still here continuing with my duties, but I must say a special thanks to Mr Teke and the Chancellor of UJ, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, for their unwavering support and guidance throughout the years. I wish to also thank everyone at UJ, including the Management Executive Council (MEC) members.

On that note, it has been encouraging to see that our staff and students have started the second semester with the same vigour and enthusiasm that they demonstrated at the beginning of the year. It is this very spirit of perseverance and resilience that has propelled us to becoming the number 2 ranked University in Africa and one of the leading institutions of higher learning in the world.

I would also like to take this opportunity to pay homage to staff members who will be receiving the UJ Long Service Awards at the annual event to be held at the Country Club Johannesburg.  On Wednesday, 20 July 2022, UJ awarded 20- and 30-year recipients and this coming Wednesday, 3 August 2022, we will be awarding 25-to-50-year recipients. The full list of UJ Long Service recipients is available here. Thank you to all recipients for your dedication – you have served the institution with aplomb.

I am also proud to announce that 48 UJ community members were named in this year’s Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans! We thank each of you for reimagining our future! To see all 200 Young South Africans, click here

As communicated last week, the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) invites applications for its Eighth Writing Semester, which will run from 1 February to 31 May 2023. Fellowships are open to any field of expertise, including novelists writing in indigenous languages. Previous fellows have included academics, novelists, scientists, poets, playwrights, independent researchers and journalists. For more information and to apply, click here:

In case you missed it, our Marketing and Brand Management Unit in University Relations recently produced and hosted the second Cloudebate for 2022, focused on how recycling and reforestation are advanced with 4IR tech. This insightful and inspiring documentary was hosted by veteran journalist Tim Modise, and can be viewed at here. You can also view the latest Beyond Imagining e-zine here. In this issue, we tackle some of the conundrums that arise when individuals such as ourselves become fully or partially digital.

Talking of recycling and climate change, the second round of the UJ Cleaning Campaign starts today across all four campuses, and will continue until next month, from 12:00 to 13:00. Please take note of the schedule, which is as follows:

  • 29 July 2022: ABP (Student Centre is the meeting place and final point).
  • 5 August 2022: DFC (The Student Centre amphitheatre is the converging and end point).
  • 12 August 2022: APK (Auckland Park Kingsway Campus).
  • 19 August: SWC (Lembede Garden is the assembly and final point).

As a global University, we host a wide array of local and international guests, and we want our grounds to continue to reflect the status of a world class university. Many of our students have committed to participate in this noble cause through our Community Engagement Unit, within the University Relations Division. I urge you all to support this initiative.

On the sporting front, I wish the congratulate the national football senior women’s team, Banyana Banyana, who have been crowned Champions of Africa, after winning their maiden Women’s Africa Cup of Nation (WAFCON) title in Morocco this past weekend. They were also named as the Women’s National Team of the Year. It was gratifying to watch the jubilant scenes at OR Tambo International Airport, as the team returned to a heroine’s welcome on Tuesday.

This is indeed a historic victory which has raised the profile of women’s football in our country. As our liberation icon Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand”. Well done to coach Desiree Ellis and the team, we are so proud of you!

On books matters, UJ Press and Exclusive Books Rosebank invites you to the launch of This Generation Leads: The Latest Leadership Ideas from South Africa, edited by Muzi Kuzwayo and Mike Teke, on Thursday, at Exclusive Books Rosebank Mall. The book is published by our online UJ Press Open Monograph Press. The launch is scheduled for 11 August 2022, from 18h00 for 18h30, and I urge you to book a space in advance to avoid disappointment. You may RSVP at

Lastly, I wish to thank everyone who has sent me birthday messages. It has been an eventful week and it is much appreciated!

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.





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