Dear Staff and Students
There has been a special hush over all of our campuses this week, as we move towards the halfway point in our mid-year examinations. Our students have been doing their best to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have acquired during the semester – and our academic staff is rising to the busy task of assessment. By tomorrow, a total of 77 980 exam papers will have been written with 68 000 still to be completed before 13th June.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Executive Leadership Group presented their 2016 Annual Reports. In each Faculty and professional and support area much progress was made to advance the strategic goals of the University. I remain immensely impressed by the enormous strides made by the University during the course of the 2016 academic year, despite the year’s many challenges and upheavals. I am grateful for the deep commitment and pride shown by all our academics and support staff in driving towards a common vision and purpose of ensuring UJ remains at the forefront of the global knowledge enterprise, produces graduates that are locally responsive and globally competitive, and to achieve this in an environment that is deeply caring and service oriented. I thank you all.
On Tuesday, 30 May, the University’s Faculty of Law hosted Judge Lebotsang Ronnie Bosielo of the Supreme Court of Appeal, who led a discussion on the role of language and culture in the South Africa legal system, and the extent to which they might be regarded as responsible for breakdowns in justice in modern-day South Africa. Through these continuous engagements on the realities in our nation, we hope to strengthen the fibre of our democracy, thus giving our people the dignity and quality of life that they deserve.
I would like to commend the Faculty of Education on the progress made since the establishment of our Funda UJabule School. On Wednesday, 31 May, Finland’s Minister of Education, Ms Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, visited Funda UJabule to learn about the collaborative research in childhood education between the University of Helsinki and the University of Johannesburg. During her visit, Ms Grahn-Laasonen presented a seminar entitled ‘Competent teachers as keys to our success in education’. The Funda UJabule School is a teacher education and research school that helps bridge the so-called theory-practice divide in pre-service teacher education and is rapidly gaining recognition for its practice-based and research-oriented approach to primary school teacher education in South Africa. Well done Professor Sarah Gravett, Executive Dean, Faculty of Education, Professor Nadine Petersen and all the colleagues for the sterling work you do in our Soweto campus-based flagship Childhood Education programme.
Please join me in congratulating Mr Sizwe Mkhwanazi for being recognised with a Youth Award from the Mayor of the Gert Sibande District Municipality in Mpumalanga, profiling him as a young resident of the district who has achieved success against all odds. Mr Mkhwanazi is a Lecturer and Enactus Co-Faculty Advisor in the Department of Business Management at the Soweto Campus. He invests unconditionally back into the youth of the district by means of personalised involvement and continues making a positive contribution to his community wherever he goes (please read more about his work here:www.youthforaction.co.za
). Earlier this year, Mr Mkhwanazi became a Rhodes Scholar Elect for 2017 after being selected as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar for two consecutive years in 2015 and 2016. He also received the wonderful news that he has passed his MTech (Operations Management) with distinction, from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment. Well done Sizwe! We salute your determination and civic-mindedness.
I also extend my sincere compliments to Senior Lecturer, Ms Boniswa Madikizela, from the Department of Accountancy, who was recently announced as a Brand Ambassador by the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA). Congratulations to you, Ms Madikizela, and thank you for flying the UJ flag high.
Later today, we will be welcoming our UJenius Club students. The UJenius Club is a Vice-Chancellor's initiative to acknowledge outstanding performance by undergraduate students, and to offer them additional opportunities for intellectual and professional development. Each year, students who have achieved a year average of 75% in the preceding year, on a full module load, and with no module below 70%, are invited to become members of this prestigious Club. Through the Club, we develop a special relationship with our top performers, offering them benefits for the duration of their studies at UJ. Our Journalism alumnus, now an established news reporter for eNCA, Nickolaus Bauer, and comedian Ebenhaezer Dikabwane, will join us at the Sanlam Auditorium to motivate and inspire our students.
As we celebrate this Youth Month, a few of our young athletes will be competing in different sporting events overseas. Some of the athletes, such as long jumpers Zarck Visser, Rushwahl Samaai, Dylon Cotter, Lynique Prinsloo, and triple jumper Patience Ntshinghila, will participate in the European season, other world challenges and diamond leagues. Runners Allyssa Conley, Dumisani Hlaselelo, Jeremy Andreas, Junior Mkatini, and Tshepo Lefete will also showcase their talents as they represent South Africa and UJ internationally. Sheldon Thomas will be participating in the World Para Athletics during the Berlin Open. Len Massyn, Jean Luc Cilliers and Reinhard Nothnagel are representing South Africa Under-20 Junior Boks in the World Cup in Georgia. We wish you every success!
Later this month, the University’s Institute for Pan African Thought and Conversation will bring together 35 prominent African intellectuals from our continent and the rest of the world, to participate in a conference on “The Pan African Pantheon”. Papers, later to be published as books, will be devoted to examining inspirational African leaders across broad themes such as the pioneers of Pan-Africanism; politicians and activists; political scientists, sociologists, historians, and economists; philosophers; literati; and, musical activists. Not only will the conference contribute significantly to our efforts to decolonise the academic curriculum, but it will also, in celebration of Youth Month, commemorate the Soweto youth uprising of 16 June 1976 against apartheid education.
By now, you will be aware that three candidates have been shortlisted for the position of the next Vice-Chancellor and Principal at UJ. Professor Tshilidzi Marwala (Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UJ), Professor Peter Mbati (Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the University of Venda), and Dr Philemon Mjwara (Director General of the Department of Science and Technology) have already made presentations respectively to Senate and to a Representative Stakeholder Group. Today, the Council-constituted selection panel is convening to formally interview all three candidates. The panel’s recommendation will then serve at the Human Resources and Social Ethics Committee of Council (HRSEC). On 22 June, Council will meet to consider the recommendations of all these bodies and make a final decision and announcement.
With my best wishes,
Prof Ihron Rensburg
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg