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VC's Message - 11 August 2017

Publishing Date: 8/11/2017 9:20 AM

Dear Staff and Students

This is a short week due to the Women’s Day holiday – which I trust was thoroughly enjoyed and allowed us to reflect on the state of freedom and opportunity of our women. Notwithstanding its shortened length, this is a busy and productive week in the University. The world of sport is buzzing with the stellar achievements of SA athletes at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. Our very own UJ student, Ruswahl Samaai, added to South Africa’s medal tally, when he was awarded a Bronze Medal in the men’s long jump event, recording an 8.32m jump. We are very proud of Ruswahl and Team SA for flying both the UJ and the South African flags high on an international stage!

Sibanye Gold has partnered with UJ to integrate mining education into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Following hard on the heels of its recent contribution of R12.5 million to UJ, the mining house will now inject R15 million into the University's mining engineering department over the next three years. The investment will further enhance our teaching and learning, and research and innovation capabilities, as well as fund the establishment of mining simulation infrastructure on our Doornfontein Campus. Our grateful thanks go to Sibanye Gold for their far-sighted and generous contribution.

Yesterday, we were very proud to welcome to our University, Queen Mother Semane Moloketsi of the Bafokeng Kingdom. As part of a ‘Zero Tolerance to Gender-Based Violence’ campaign, a collaborative project between Student Affairs, Protection Services, Institutional Office of HIV/AIDS, Campus Health Services and the Campus Based SRCs, the Queen Mother called on students to break the silence against rape and sexual violence. The campaign and workshop, aimed at raising awareness of gender-based violence in our society, continues today and I trust that the Queen Mother’s wisdom will continue to inspire us.

​Marking the importance of women in science, and of nurturing future scientists, the University launched the 2017 National Science Week with the theme of Advancing Science Tourism, at our Soweto Campus on Monday the 7th of August. Our guest of honour and key note speaker was Ms Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education. High school learners were encouraged to take charge of their careers with a specific focus on Maths and Science. More than 1200 learners attended the launch at our Soweto Campus. Several members of staff of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, presented lectures and demonstrations including our Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Science, Professor Greg Weiss. Prof Weis is a professor of Chemistry, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University of California, Irvine. All presentations on Wednesday the 9th, including that of Prof Weiss’s focused on encouraging the girl learner.

On Monday 7 August, the University’s Management met with student leaders of the Interim and Central Student Representative Council at the first of its bi-monthly meetings. During the afternoon’s very constructive and robust discussions, the student leaders, responding to calls from the LGBTI community, requested Management to consider the introduction of unisex toilet facilities on our campuses. I am pleased to report that the University will run a pilot project of introducing unisex restroom facilities across the four campuses as from 1 September 2017. This initiative represents another significant step in the University’s journey towards promoting inclusivity and recognising diversity, and speaks directly to our UJ values of Conversation, Imagination, Regeneration, and Ethical Foundation. The meeting also deliberated on NSFAS-related concerns, on- and off-campus safety, processes relating to students’ academic and financial exclusion, and the University’s student disciplinary standpoint and code.

Earlier this year, I informed you of the external safety routes near our campuses, urging our students to familiarise themselves with the routes under our surveillance. I wish to reiterate that the safety of our students and of the entire UJ community remains paramount in our planning and operations. The UJ Protection Services is working on an infographics to inform you of the safe routes you should use daily to access and exit our campuses. Please also note that our Protection Services officers provide exit group escorts for students who study at night in our libraries, and you should not hesitate to ask your safety officers about these security measures. Should you have any queries, please call the UJ Protection Services on 011 559 6085 (DFC), 011 559 5555 (SWC), 011 559 2555 (APK), and 011 559 1312 (APB).

With my very best wishes,

Professor Ihron Rensburg

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Johannesburg