Dear UJ Staff Members and StudentsLet me begin by expressing my gratitude to the staff and students who attended the engagements at our four campuses. At each meeting I was encouraged by your determination to solidify UJ’s global position as a leading university in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These engagements are an opportunity to engage constructively on our path going forward, not a platform for disorder.As we celebrate Human Rights month, I thought it important to restate our University’s values: Imagination, Conversation, Regeneration, and Ethical Foundation. We believe that these values are intrinsic to the protection and development of human rights, as well as ensuring excellence in education. Our values also underpin our firm stand against xenophobia, racism, sexism, and any other prejudices. In, therefore, follows that violence is unacceptable and is against our values. We, therefore, mourn the violent losses of Prof Cobus Naudé and Mr. Baraka Leonard Nafari.While we assert our human rights, we also respect the rights of others. At any on- or off-campus gathering, both our staff and students are expected to carry this responsibility. Our conduct should always be that of University ambassadors, whether at sports events, staff days, or residence activities. By the same token, we also have a shared commitment to ensuring a clean environment on all our campuses. The cleaning and gardening services workers must perform as expected; likewise, our staff and students are required to reciprocate by keeping the UJ campuses clean. Please do not litter!A significant aspect of our commitment to human rights lies in our support for our communities. We take pride in producing graduates that play an uplifting role in our local and the global societies. Take, for instance, the extraordinary 9,366 graduands that will walk across the stage to receive their qualifications this graduation season. They represent the huge responsibility that our University carries towards ensuring a learned and thriving nation.In addition, our University staff and students are dedicated to taking on projects that change lives in our communities, especially those of the needy. In 2013, our electrical and electronic engineering students, led by Prof Johan Meyer, Head of the School for Electrical and Electronic Engineering, embarked upon a socio-economic upliftment project in a village called Gwakwani in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Gwakwani is a small rural village with about 70 to 100 villagers, who can be classified as the poorest of the poor, making a living from subsistence farming. Over the years, the population size of the village has gradually decreased due to socio-economic strain and infrastructure, electricity and telecommunications challenges. The UJ Gwakwani Village Project (with the support of Schneider Electric South Africa) connects engineering, technology and community by generating solar electricity and installing a water borehole. It will undoubtedly alleviate the plight of the Gwakwani villagers. A big thank you to all for this imaginative combining of education, compassion and community development.
Our academics, Prof Adekeye Adebajo (Director: Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation) and Prof Grietjie Verhoef (Professor in Economic and Business History in the Department of Accountancy) recently published books on the economy, culture, politics, and the history of business in Africa. Prof Adebajo’s book, “The Eagle and the Springbok: Essays on Nigeria and South Africa”, narrates the bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Africa. Prof Verhoef’s book, “The History of Business in Africa: Complex Discontinuity to Emerging Markets”, analyses the history of business in the continent, with specificities of culture and the dynamically changing policy context, among other matters.With an increased number of students funded by NSFAS, the University has been burdened with the added administration of the loan agreements. The signing of these forms has been unavoidably delayed. Nationally, the university sector is affected by the NSFAS delays and this affects the release of critical allowances for books and accommodation. In order to assist our students, we have designed an acknowledgement form that NSFAS students are required to sign. Therefore, I would like to urge our students to sign the manual forms, generated by UJ, as soon as possible. Please visit the Student Finance Offices on your campus to sign the forms.With my very best wishes,Prof Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg