Skip Navigation LinksVice-Chancellor-Message-06-October-2017 VC's Message - 06 October 2017


VC's Message - 06 October 2017


Publishing Date: 10/6/2017 8:00 AM

Dear Staff and Students

Allow me to extend my sincere appreciation to staff and students who have over the course of the last week, at our Doornfontein, Soweto and Auckland Park Bunting Road campuses, shared with me their experiences and insights of our journey and my leadership over the last twelve years. These are warmly appreciated and cherished moments that I will carry with me as I prepare to leave the University. On all three occasions I had the privilege to share with staff and students the message that I came to UJ to enable each one of you to unleash the resident power within yourself and for you, rather than me to be the change.

I would wish to congratulate Professor Saurabh Sinha following his appointment as the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation and Professor Daneel Van Lill, who has been appointed as the Executive Dean for the College of Business and Economics. Congratulations also go out to Professor Kinta Burger, our Registrar, and Professor Federico Freschi, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture on their re-appointments. We wish you all of the very best in your roles as you take UJ to new heights.

Earlier this semester, I shared with you the news about students and staff from the Graduate School of Architecture who were nominated for the inaugural Africa Architecture Awards. I am delighted to announce that two of our students were selected as overall winners! Ms Aissata Balde outshone 90 other competitors to receive the Speculative Architecture award for conceptual design. Her project, entitled the “Territory In-Between”, explores the interplay between physical and imagined spaces through experiences of migration in Cape Verde in ways that allow us to rethink our ways of understanding the state, boundaries and space. Mr Israel Ogundare Olawale was awarded the Emerging Voices prize for “The Exchange Consulate: Trading Passports for Hyper-Performative Economic Enclaves” – a project investigating the economic enclaves in Johannesburg city. Both Ms Balde and Mr Olaware are studying towards their Master’s degrees in Architecture. They were recognised at the Africa Architecture Awards ceremony, which took place at the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, on Thursday, 28 September 2017. Congratulations to both of you!

On Wednesday, I along with many fellow South Africans watched the live broadcast of the first season of SABC 3’s fashion reality show competition, ‘The Intern’ hosted by internationally acclaimed designer and fashion icon David Tlale. The overall winner of this acclaimed competition was none other than Kuena Moshoeshoe, a recent BTech graduate of UJ. Over the course of four months, Kuena battled it out with 12 other hopeful fashion designers to win the coveted award, including being the winner of the Mercedes Benz Africa Fashion International challenge. Congratulations to Kuena, and to colleagues of the Department of Fashion Design for this proud and stellar achievement.

Please join me also in congratulating our student, Sheldon Thomas, for winning the “Most Promising Athlete of the Year” title at the Gauteng Sports Awards that were held at Silverstar Casino in Krugersdorp on Sunday night. Sheldon is part of UJ’s Sports for Students with Disabilities club and is coached by Ms Leanne Bruwer. He also received his senior national colours at the World Para-Athletics Grand Prix, held in Berlin this year. He participated in the 100m and 200m track events, obtaining gold medals in both – he finished the 100m in a time of 11.68 and 200m in a time of 23.34.

I was very pleased to learn that Dr Wai Sze Leung and Prof Ylva Rodney-Gumede have recently been nominated as participants in the Teaching Advancement at University Fellowships programme for 2018/2019. The programme was initiated in 2015 as a collaborative project between several South African universities under the auspices of the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa, and was set up by our very own Professor Brenda Leibowitz here at UJ.

The Research Centre for Private International Law in Emerging Countries at the Faculty of Law hosted the Pan-African Conference on Party Autonomy in Commercial Private International Law this week. Party autonomy in private international law is highly topical in contemporary conflict of laws discourse. The conference supported the endeavours of the Faculty to decolonise the academic project at UJ through the diversification and Africanisation of legal epistemologies. It provided a platform for ideas concerning party autonomy in private international law from the perspectives of a wide variety of African legal systems. The conference was well attended by attorneys, advocates, other stakeholders in the legal industry and academics from neighbouring universities. What made this conference particularly special was that the guest speakers included Prof Marta Pertegas from the University of Antwerp, the former First Secretary of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the driving force behind the Hague Principles of Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts (2015); Prof Christopher Forsyth, from Cambridge University, the doyen of South African private international law; and, Prof John Kiggundu from the University of Botswana, renowned African specialist in the field of private international law. Other speakers included renowned scholars and practitioners from Belgium, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tunisia, Japan and the United Kingdom. By all accounts, the conference was a resounding success.

On Wednesday the 4th of October, the SARChI Chair in African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy (AFDP) partnered with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Johannesburg, in presenting a highly successful panel discussion on EU-AU Relations: Prospects and Challenges. The meeting was convened in Pretoria-Tshwane. Members of the panel included EU Managing Director for Africa, Mr Koen Vervaeke, Ambassador Ghulam Asmal, Director for NEPAD and Partnerships from the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), Dr Samuel Oloruntoba from the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI), Dr Lesley Masters (UJ), and Dr John Kotsopoulos as respondent from the Governance Innovation Institute (GOVIN) at the University of Pretoria. Professor Chris Landsberg, head of the SARChI in African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy chaired the session.

The panel discussion was followed by the launch of a South African Journal of International Affairs (SAJIA) Special Issue, guested edited by SARChI’s Senior Lecturer Dr Lesley Masters, and post-doctoral research fellow Dr Lara Hierro on Reviewing a decade of the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership. The special issue marks a fresh approach and the first of its kind in this subject area, bringing together academics from South Africa and Europe to review the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership. The launch was attended by high-ranking diplomats, representatives from the Directorate General for Regional Organisations at DIRCO, as well as academics and members of local civil society organisations.

Tomorrow, you may want to join what promises to be a colourful and exciting event: the Soweto Eat-In, which seeks to highlight the need for food security in Johannesburg. The event, held at the Funda Ujabule School on the Soweto campus, will offer healthy and enticing food from local farmers and chefs, as well as stage the Skaftini challenge, in which students from culinary schools will compete to present the tastiest lunchbox for no more than R20. The competing lunchboxes will be on sale and the proceeds will go to the Slow Food 10 000 Food Garden’s Programme. Two thought-provoking conferences will also be held at the Eat-In – for more information, please go to: http://www.hypresslive.com/2017/10/02/uj-and-slow-food-bring-you-soweto-eat-in-2017/

Lastly, I wish to encourage our students to remain focused as they conclude their final semester assessments before taking on the year-end examinations. You are just a few steps away from putting this year to an end in style – do so with energy and determination!


With my very best wishes,

Professor Ihron Rensburg

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Johannesburg