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VC's Message - 18 August 2017


Publishing Date: 8/18/2017 9:40 AM

Dear Staff and Students

I am pleased to share with you some exceptionally good news received early this week. UJ's global stature has been given a significant boost through its inclusion as one of the Top 500 universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy on Tuesday, 15 August. This is the most prestigious global ranking system in the world which uses only externally accessed, objective measures in its assessment of university performance. It is a ranking system that is heavily focused on research quality and impact. Not only was this UJ’s first appearance in this ranking system, but we find ourselves ranked highly in relation to our peer South African universities, having been placed fourth in South Africa – between Stellenbosch University in third place and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in fifth place, all in the 401-500 band. Wits University heads the list in the 201-300 band, followed by the University of Cape Town (301-400). The University of Pretoria falls in the 501-600 ranking band, followed by North West University in the 601-700 band, and the University of South Africa in the 701-800 band.

This is a tremendous accomplishment for UJ which can be seen as the result of great wisdom, effort and foresight on our collective part. It is important to make the point that this accomplishment and recognition is achieved on our own terms! We have pressed ahead with the task of nurturing the model post-apartheid democratic-era South African university through pursuing our transformation and access programmes alongside our global excellence programme. Thus our Black academic staff component has grown over these 12 years from 150 to almost 500, while our students from Quintile 1 and 2 schools (which serve the poorest in our nation) grew from 8% of our first year undergraduate class to 31%. As a result of #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall, we have also in-sourced the most poorly paid of our service staff, and we have whole-heartedly embraced the decolonisation of knowledge project.

Alongside our QS Top 100 Under 50 Universities Ranking, this Shanghai Ranking result is received with great joy and celebration, even as we continue to forge ahead and scale new heights. My congratulations and gratitude go to all the academics in our community who have made this possible. This is your achievement!

This week, the UJ Graduate School of Architecture hosted Sir David Adjaye, a Ghanaian British architect and the lead designer of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Sir Adjaye, named as one of the top 100 most influential architects of 2017 by Time magazine, spoke to an audience of students, lecturers, artists, and industry partners during a lecture series on ‘Unlearning Everything and Redoing it Again’ at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. The event, organised in conjunction with Boogertman + Partners, explored the architect's work in an integrated approach that focused on his earlier days as well as his current commissions.

Please join me in congratulating Ms Rudzani Mukwevho, a Lecturer in Mine Surveying, who was recently awarded the Mine Surveyor’s Certificate of Competency. She is now the 14th woman in South Africa to have ever been awarded this qualification - an impressive achievement indeed!

At the beginning of this week, the Department of Applied Information Systems hosted the Second International Conference on the Internet, Cyber Security and Information Systems. This conference was co-hosted with the University of Botswana and coordinated with the Southern African Development Community. There was also representation from the rest of the African continent through the Economic Community of West African States and African Union Commission.

In another joint project, this time in support of Women’s Month, the Departments of Visual Arts and Social Work and Community Engagement have installed an exhibition at the B entrance of the Bunting Road Campus to raise awareness about gender-based violence. These Vandyke-brown photographic prints on Egyptian cotton sheets by visual artist, Ms Heidi Mielke, respond to violent murders of women in our society. As part of the exhibition, a panel discussion will be held on gender-based violence with Shanaaz Mathews from the University of Cape Town, Prof Shahana Rasool, Dr Corne Davies and a speaker from Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training (ADAPT).

On Thursday next week, the Vice-Chancellor Designate, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, will deliver a public lecture on Artificial Intelligence and Economic Theory. The lecture will be based on his newly published book, Skynet in the Market, co-authored by Evan Hurwitz. I hope you will find the time to attend.

Have a great weekend.

Professor Ihron Rensburg

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Johannesburg