As the respected red and orange robes were draped over the shoulders of Professor Tshilidzi Marwala on Monday, 26 March 2018, the University of Johannesburg's (UJ) second Vice-Chancellor and Principal resolutely received the stewardship of leading the University into an innovative age of education.
"As I assume this responsibility of the leadership of one of the greatest and innovative universities in South Africa, I will be building on my predecessor, Prof Ihron Rensburg's legacy and his leadership that saw the Institution becoming the national standard bearer for transformation, equity, access, pan-Africanism and global excellence," said Prof Marwala.
Read Prof Tshilidzi Marwala’s full address
Watch the full Inauguration of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tshildzi Marwala
In his address, Prof Marwala shared his vision to position the University for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. ""Ke nako! iSikathi sifikile! Tshifhinga tsho swika! Now it is the time for us, as UJ, together with our key stakeholders in government, society and industry, to mobilise the intellectual, financial and social forces to invest and innovate through our research, teaching and learning enterprises. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is going to integrate man and machines, the physical and the cyber. We will equip our students to be dynamic and active participants as we influence and impact this new revolution." he said.
Speaking ahead of the Inaugural event, Prof Marwala pointed out that the face of higher education and subsequently the way in which universities will have to be managed have changed significantly. "This era is marked by an exceedingly complex and rapidly changing world where technology will continue to, and significantly so, affect us all. It is going to transform the world."
Among the dignitaries who attended the Inaugural event were former President of South Africa and the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from UJ, Mr Thabo Mbeki, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande, former UJ Chancellor, Ms Wendy Luhabe, Vice-Chancellors of universities, locally and abroad, Prof Marwala's family and government officials.
The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Ms Naledi Pandor congratulated Prof Marwala and stated that his academic roots stretched throughout South Africa. "You are the first Vice-Chancellor from rural Limpopo to steer a striving University, in the heart of cosmopolitan Johannesburg, an institution that is relevant to the world. I wish you every success in leading UJ from strength to strength," she said.
Engaging with dignitaries, Prof Marwala stressed that UJ's primary commitment is to epitomise what it means to be a post-apartheid university in a democratic South Africa. To do that, it has vigorously pursued an agenda with a pan-African focus that is locally relevant and internationally significant, and provided the best possible teaching and learning opportunities for its students and staff. It has invested heavily in the teaching and learning domain to make it possible for students from even the poorest backgrounds and schools to shine academically.
"The University will continue to pursue its primary objectives by offering a range of excellent academic programmes, engaging in serious decolonisation of knowledge and curricula, developing our research strengths, actively seeking external funding to support research activities, providing many opportunities for the full development of our staff and investing in tutors and other support mechanisms to ensure the success of students," he elaborated.
"Our real achievements is that the University is making it possible for just over twelve thousand young people to graduate from UJ every year and for our researchers to produce new knowledge. In these ways we hope to contribute to the improvement of our society and our world."
Prof Marwala concluded by reminding all present that the University will master the Fourth Industrial Revolution, only if it invests in implementation capacity and infrastructure. "Our approach should facilitate open engagements. It should facilitate blended learning where technology is an integral part of teaching and learning. We should link UJ to the innovation architecture of South Africa, playing a critical role in increasing the productivity of our industrial sector and, thereby, reducing the challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty."