Vice-Chancellor Message - 07 September 2018

Vice-Chancellor Message - 07 September 2018

Publishing Date: 9/7/2018 8:00 AM

​Dear Staff and Students
Welcome to the Spring season and our Heritage Month!

As we head into new beginnings, today also marks the end of the third term of our academic calendar. Our students and academics take a short well-deserved break after a busy month-and-half period since the start of the second semester. The month of September is jam-packed with great academic and cultural ambiance at UJ. With the upcoming annual Diversity Week programmes for staff members and the International Student Festival, we have so much to celebrate.

At UJ, we continue to surge ahead with our crusade to ready our society for the big shift in how we work, live and interact. This week, Wednesday, 5 September 2018, Telkom, UJ, Wits and the University of Fort Hare launched a #SA4IR, our Fourth Industrial Revolution Plan that seeks to shape the future of South Africa and galvanise our society to the fourth industrial revolution. The partnership will explore the impact of 4IR on the traditional and the new digital economy, higher education and the Future of Work, as well as society and the state and other important socio-economic elements. This plan is expected to be formulated within the next six months. UJ will host a #SA4IR summit at the Soweto Campus on the weekend of 27 October 2018.

Fittingly, please join me in congratulating Prof Mercy Mpinganjira – Director of the School of Consumer Intelligence and Information – for her professorial inauguration on Monday, 3 September 2018. Prof Mpinganjira’s inaugural ceremony address, entitled, “Digital Technologies and Customer Experience,” pointed out that the ability of any organisation to leverage on value-creating opportunities requires the development of a digital marketing strategy that is informed by a good understanding of customers, including their expectations and experiences. She also reminded us that with the introduction of web 2.0, human-to-human interaction on digital platforms has become an important part of customer experience. Prof Mpinganjira: Congratulations!

As you all know, the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation annually honours sporting heroes and heroines’ achievements and excellence on and off the field. I am delighted to announce that two of our students and one staff member were among the recipients of this year’s Gauteng Sports Awards on Sunday, 2 September 2018. Prof Yoga Coopoo, Head of Department: Sport and Movement Studies, Olympic Studies Centre, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award, while Jacque Joubert and Siyabonga Ndlovu took the Disabled Sportsman of the Year and Administrator of the Year awards, respectively. Congratulations to UJ Sport and our winners!

​ An exciting discovery by CERN has made an observation of the Higgs boson decay to bottom quarks, which validates a new section of the Standard Model in Physics. CERN made the announcement on Tuesday, 28 August 2018. The UJ researchers' group at ATLAS support the high-performance computing harnessed for the global experiment. Generally, the UJ work at ATLAS has supported key sections of detector operations and performance, with a search focus on Beyond Standard Model physics. The group contributes in the fields of Physics, Engineering and Technical support. Congratulations to Prof Simon Connell at Resolution Circle and Haydn du Plessis at CERN!

The other good news for our University is that the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, accreditation panel will recommend that the University retains its accreditation for the BSc Honours in Information Technology (H2010Q). This recommendation is still subject to ratification by the BCS board in the next three months, and I will inform you of the final outcome when it is finalised. Additionally, the accreditation now also includes the alternative path to the honours qualification through the four-year Bachelor of Science Computer Science and Informatics (B2E01Q) route. The accreditation period will run from 2019 to 2023. It was also recommended that the Centre for Cyber Security be held up as an example for best practice. There were other commendations regarding the Academy, its programmes, and its staff. Congratulations to the Faculty of Science and the Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering (ACSSE)!

But that’s not all. Our Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) is introducing an MPhil in Social Policy and Development in 2019. The qualification will be an innovative inter-disciplinary offering, focusing on social policies and interventions in South Africa and developing countries.

Technology is now a strategic layer across all aspects of any organisation. Therefore, people need to understand how to harness the technological disruption in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in order to have a strategic, competitive advantage. Our Johannesburg Business School has partnered with Accenture to host a one-day Masterclass on The Next Economy. The Masterclass will enable participants to rethink and critically engage how the technological disruption is changing the economy, a skill that is particularly relevant for leaders who wish to do better today and beyond. Dr Angus Hervey, a political economist and a renowned international speaker on the impact of disruptive technologies on society, will present the Masterclass on 12 September 2018 at the Accenture Liquid Studio in Woodmead. You may register here to attend:

Recently, I found three articles written by our staff on Industry 4.0 interesting to read. Prof Ylva Rodny-Gumede penned “The future is with us. Rethink it”, and Prof Alex Broadbent shed light on “How the humanities can deliver for the fourth industrial revolution”, while Dr Oscar van Heerden interrogated the concept of “Humanity 4.0 – Is the human race ‘future fit’?”. These articles offer great insights on many fronts and they are worthy of your analysis as a University community.

The University’s secretaries celebrated the annual UJ Secretaries Day on Wednesday, 4 September 2018 at the Johannesburg Country Club. Reflecting on their roles in the functioning of the University, guest speaker, Ms Marjon Meyer, encouraged our Secretaries to equip themselves with new technological, writing and communication skills to be better prepared for work in Industry 4.0 workplaces. This could not have come at a better time than now as we execute the last of our academic endeavours to end the year on a high – I hope that you have enjoyed yourselves and learned a few tricks.

At the beginning of this week, NSFAS opened applications for funding in 2019 to our prospective and current students. I would like to urge our staff members, students and parents to relay the message and help those who need to apply to do so timeously. The University’s Financial Governance and Revenue Division will continue to update you on the necessary information regarding applications and the disbursement of funds.  Please feel free to visit any of our offices for assistance.

Lastly, we have wrapped up the campus engagements at the four campuses on Tuesday, 4 September 2018. I would like to thank all the attendees for their presence and contributions in shaping the vison of our University. On Wednesday, 5 September 2018, theJohannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) completed its third session of the four-part conversation series on Business Perspectives on Work and the Future with M D Ramesh (President and Regional Head: Olam International), and Yolisa Kani (Head of Public Policy: Uber South Africa). The next session on Work and the Future will be on Perspectives from Higher Education with Prof Babu Paul of UJ, Prof Ruksana Osman of Wits University, and Prof Robin Crewe of University of Pretoria.

Have a great weekend!

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg