Dear Staff and Students
This week marks the beginning of the second term of the academic programme, and today the 15th of our 44 autumn graduation ceremonies will take place. I hope that those of you who took a short break are well rested and recharged for the next few months that will lead us into the mid-year examinations.
From now on, we can include Dr Esther Mahlangu, renowned South African Ndebele artist and global icon, amongst our alumni. On Monday, the University conferred an honorary doctorate on this global icon in recognition of her outstanding achievements. The University honoured her for the important legacy as a cultural entrepreneur who skilfully negotiated both the local and global worlds and educated our people. Her work attracted international attention at the 1989 exhibition, Magiciens de la Terre, in Paris. Over the past three decades, Dr Mahlangu has exhibited both mural and canvas paintings throughout Europe, Asia, and North and South America. She broke boundaries in many ways, and in her own way. Dr Mahlangu: we are proud to add you to our exclusive community of illustrious figures upon whom our honorary doctorate is conferred.Siyathokoza! (Thank you!).
Just before the recess, the University Council honoured visionary businessman Dr Raymond Ackerman, legendary musician Mr Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, and human rights lawyer and activist Ms Yasmin Sooka with the Ellen Kuzwayo Award for their outstanding contribution in the higher education sector. The Council of the University annually bestows these awards to individuals who, in the estimation of the Council, demonstrate sustained and exceptional contributions beyond the confines of teaching and research. Congratulations to all of you, our true UJ brand ambassadors!
Two of our academics, Prof Heidi Abrahamse from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Dr Kasongo Nyembwe from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, have been nominated in the 2017/2018 National Science and Technology Forum Awards in the TW Kambule Research category. This category acknowledges individuals’ contribution to research and their output over a period of 15 years, predominantly in South Africa.The Gala Dinner is scheduled for 28 June 2018. To be nominated is a big achievement, and we wish you both well!
We have also made executive appointments and I am pleased to announce that Prof Andre Swart assumed office as Chief Operating Officer: Operations and Information and Communication Systems (ICS) last week – this position was previously called the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Operations and ICS. He was previously the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Doornfontein Campus. I am also pleased to announce that Ms Nolwazi Mamorare will assume office, on 01 May 2018, as Chief Financial Officer – this position was previously called the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Finance. Ms Mamorare was the Executive Director: Financial Governance and Revenue. Prof André Nel from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment has been appointed Acting Executive Director: Operations. Dr Oscar van Heerden has been appointed as the Senior Director: Internationalisation from 01 May 2018. I wish you all well in your new portfolios.
Last week I presented on the advancement of memory at the Collège de France in Paris, with a group of 15 top-level scholars. This event was organised by the Collège de France and the Peter Wall Institute of Advanced Study at the University of British Columbia. I was the only scholar from outside Europe and North America. The scholars represented a broad range of disciplines, such as biology, geology, history, law, neuroscience, brain development, computer science and engineering. My contribution to this gathering is documented on our website. It was decided that the next engagement will be held in Johannesburg with the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study.
The Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, has appointed me to the new interim board of Denel, South Africa's state-owned defence company. The immediate priorities for the board will include restoring sound corporate governance; reviewing the effectiveness of the management team and major contracts; reviewing the company's financial position with the view to creating sustainability; and consulting all stakeholders. I am keenly aware of the responsibility attached to this role and I am fully committed to serve our nation.
Finally: I wish all our athletes well in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games!
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg