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VC's Message - 02 March 2018

Publishing Date: 3/2/2018 9:00 AM

Dear UJ Staff Members and Students

The first of our regular campus engagements took place yesterday at the Auckland Park Bunting Road Campus. The meeting was lively and I was encouraged by your will to make UJ a true university of choice that is anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future via our academic path. I was forcibly reminded of the wisdom of the great Nelson Mandela, who said that “No child in Africa and in fact anywhere in the world should be denied education.” As part of our celebration of Human Rights month at UJ, we will continue to work towards advancing Madiba’s dream for our society. Thank you to the staff and student leaders at APB for your input. I look forward to the forthcoming engagements at the Soweto, Kingsway and Doornfontein campuses.
At the beginning of this week, Prof Esther Akinlabi – the Vice-Dean of Teaching and Learning: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment – was inaugurated. In her inaugural address, 'Joining: All about Life', she traced the history of welding since the last century and observed how new welding processes and methods are emerging according to the requirements of modern manufacturing processes. You can read more about her address here. Congratulations, Prof Akinlabi!
Please also join me in congratulating Prof Adrian van Breda on his professorial inauguration, which took place on Wednesday, 28th of February. During his address, ‘We are who we are through other people: The interactional foundation of the resilience of youth leaving care in South Africa’’, Prof van Breda noted that one of the important life transitions humans undergo is that from adolescence to young adulthood. In this transition, young people coming out of the child welfare system towards independent living often experience difficulties. He argued that however difficult the transition, not all care-leavers experience poor outcomes – raising the classic resilience question about the multilevel processes that systems engage in to obtain better-than-expected outcomes in the face or wake of adversity. Drawing on the social work notion of person-in-environment, Prof van Breda emphasised that the interactions between people and people, and between people and systems, are key resilience-enabling mechanisms. You can read more about his address here. Congratulations, Prof van Breda!
As part of our quest to advance our international standing with regard to academic partnership and research, I had the privilege to host a high level team led by Prof Robert Jones, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. The team consisted of Prof Reitumetse Mabokela (Vice Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies), Prof Alex Winter-Nelson (Director of International Programmes, College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences), and Prof Christopher Span (Associate Dean for Academic Programmes, College of Education). We discussed how academic cooperation and collaboration can be effected through the scholarship of teaching and learning programmes, as well as the virtualisation of student exchange through our online module, ‘African Insights’. We also discussed the possibility of joint research and development projects (including the planned Johannesburg Medical School to be based at UJ), study abroad programmes, and international student recruitment.
Yesterday, we hosted another high level international delegation from the University of Potsdam led by its President, Prof Oliver Guenther. Along with six other officials from Potsdam, we discussed possible partnerships in the areas of student and staff mobility, joint research, inclusive education, Biology, Zoology, Linguistics, and English.
This week, the Funda UJabule School launched the UJabule Learning Centre. The Centre will provide educational and psychological assessments and interventions to the Funda UJabule School community and partner schools. Some learners encounter learning barriers caused by multiple socio-cultural and educational challenges, which result in poor academic performance. The Centre aims to identify, assess and support such learners. This initiative is further testament to the Faculty of Education’s determination to nurture the future of our tomorrow leaders.
A number of UJ students performed very well indeed in the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition finals last week. Ms Mpho Mataboge was the first runner up (2ndplace) and Miss Bianca Fisher was the second runner up (3rd place) in the postgraduate category. We also congratulate fellow postgraduate finalists, Mr Khayalethu Sukazi and Mr Gorton Wilmans, and the Economics@UJ Budget Speech team at the College of Business and Economics for guiding our students.
Following my announcement in a recent letter, I thought it important to remind you that academics, writers, and other intellectuals have converged at our Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) in Westdene, Johannesburg. These colleagues come from various countries and will be at JIAS for a fully sponsored four-month Writing Term. This is the third intake of Writing Fellows since JIAS's inception and the programme is enormously successful. The Fellows have thus far produced a range of published books, films, plays, accredited academic papers, and other intellectual output emanating from their sojourns at JIAS.
This afternoon from 3pm to 5pm, the UJ Confucius Institute will be hosting the 2018 Lantern Festival at 9 Molesey Avenue, in Auckland Park. The Chinese Consul General will be in attendance and celebrations will include Chinese traditional music and a cuisine experience. I hope you will find the time to attend.
On Monday, 5 March 2018, UJ will host a seminar organised around the theme ‘How histories address the legacy of colonialism’ in the Kingsway Library’s Chinua Achebe Auditorium. The seminar is organised in partnership with ACCORD and Historians without Borders, and will take place from 3pm to 7pm. Please join the conversation.
With my very best wishes for the weekend and the new month,
Prof Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg