Vice-Chancellor Message – 06 May 2022

Date: May 6, 2022 | Vice-Chancellor Messages


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Dear UJ Community,

Last week, after the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala shared the good news about the latest Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings), I reflected on the importance of maintaining a good reputation as an institution of higher education. Reputation is built on excellence, integrity and credibility. More often than not, people get to know about an institution’s true integrity in the toughest of times, as with the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance.

Reputation is the single-most important aspect of our University business that we must treasure and jealously guard at all times. The rewards of having a good reputation are immense: it puts us in good public standing, fosters better relationships, creates more opportunities for growth and the prospects of greater revenues. As such, it is worth dedicating time and effort to maintaining a positive reputation.

A critical aspect to maintain reputation is ensuring diligence in matters of quality assurance, compliance to policies, expenditure and our business practices. In this regard, I look forward to the Council on Higher Education (CHE)’s upcoming  audit of our University between the 16th – 20th May 2022. CHE is a statutory body responsible for quality assurance in higher education. The audit will focus on UJ’s policies, systems, procedures, strategies and resources for the quality management of the core functions of teaching and learning, as well as research and community engagement, including the relevant academic support services. More specifically, the institutional audit will assess UJ’s capacity for quality management of our academic activities in a manner that meets our vision, mission, goals and values. It will also assess how the University engages appropriately with the expectations and needs of various internal and external constituencies.

The schedule from the CHE sets out all the activities from Monday 16 to Friday 20 May 2022. All sessions from Monday to Thursday will take place online, and Friday will see the CHE audit panel visiting our four campuses. Invites have been sent to many of the interviewees, with details of the additional interviewees being received every day.

From all domains across UJ, the panel will be asking questions to staff and students, and triangulating their reading of UJ’s  Self-Evaluation Report with what they see and hear in interviews and on campus. If you have a question, see the  Audit FAQs on the Intranet.  Should you require any further information please write to dote@uj.ac.za

The CHE panel has requested the University to advertise an OPEN SESSION. Any member of the UJ community may request an invitation to the OPEN SESSION which will be held on Tuesday 17 May 2022 from 16:30 – 17:20. This session is online, and those wishing to attend are required to request an invite from nene.s@che.ac.za.

Speaking of our University’s reputation, it is gratifying to see my colleagues, Prof Marwala, Prof Saurabh Sinha (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation) and Prof Ylva Rodny-Gumede (Senior Director: Division of Internationalisation) representing UJ at the Universitas 21 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the University of Birmingham in England this week.

In fact, on 4 May 2022 Prof Marwala was among the main speakers at the launch of the NAIXUS Network in AI (Artificial Intelligence) and SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), an event which was held on the sidelines of Universitas AGM. During the event in Birmingham, Hemali Joshi, the Director of the Centre for Academic Technologies (CAT), captivated colleagues with her presentation on our AI SLP.  Thanks colleagues for being good ambassadors of UJ!

On a slightly different note, UJ welcomes Prof Anna Nnenna Abengowe, a high-profile industry figure who will be the Deputy Director of UJ’s Graduate School of Architecture (GSA). Prof Adengowe, who holds a Bachelor in Art History from Boston University and a Master’s in Architecture from Princeton University, brings valuable international experience and knowledge to the GSA. We are looking forward to her contribution to the evolution of the School as we embark on a range of new trajectories. Congratulations Prof Abengowe, and welcome on board!

I also wish to congratulate Prof Tankiso Moloi, our Professor of Accountancy, who has been appointed as the Chair of the Africa Regional Engagement Group (REG) of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. REGs serve as the “eyes and ears” of the membership and students, as well as the local marketplace, providing insight and supporting member engagement. In announcing the appointment, the Association acknowledged Prof Moloi’s dedication to the profession and his interest in serving on the REG. Prof Moloi’ s term of office will be one-year, effective from 1 June 2022, in accordance with the body’s statutes. Thanks for flying the UJ flag higher!

This week, we had the opportunity to welcome Kevin Nell to the UJ Professorship. He delivered his professorial inauguration lecture that highlighted the broad topics of money, inflation, and growth from a more unorthodox, non-mainstream perspective. Welcome Professor Nell, I trust that your insights will enrich the University and the broader public as you embark on this new journey. Click here to read more about this.

As indicated last week, it has been heartening to see that the UJ KZN Floods Relief Fund, which we launched just before the Easter long weekend, is receiving support. We will soon hand over the funds to Gift of the Givers, a trusted humanitarian NGO that has been at the forefront of aid during difficult times in South Africa and other countries. We call upon those who can voluntarily lend a hand to rebuild KwaZulu-Natal to do so. Click on this link to donate:  https://uj.devman.co.za/devman/online/giving/. If we invest in the rebuilding of KwaZulu-Natal, all of us win.

On COVID-19 matters, you would be aware that South Africa has had a resurgence in the number of infections over the last few days. Gauteng still accounts for most of the new infections, followed by KwaZulu-Natal. A new Omicron sub-variant has caused this surge, according to the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). The body has said these are warning signs of the fifth wave of COVID-19 had emerged.

Additionally, it is important to note that the Department of Health has extended the limited regulations to curb the spread of virus. In terms of this, the wearing of a face mask is mandatory for every person when in an indoor public place – including public transport. All gatherings are permitted at 50% of the venue capacity provided that persons are fully vaccinated and in possession of a valid vaccination certificate.

If unvaccinated, such persons should provide a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of the gathering. Alternatively, gatherings are permitted for the unvaccinated and those without tests, but are limited to 1,000 persons or fewer for indoor venues and 2,000 persons or fewer for outdoor venues. The UJ Mandatory Vaccination Policy still applies on these regulations.

If you have been vaccinated and have not uploaded your vaccination certificate, please do so on https://ulink.uj.ac.za/ujvac. To read more about this, as well as information on assistance for students and postdoctoral research fellows with difficulty in submitting their vaccination certificates, click http://www.uj.ac.za/covid-19. You may also visit the UJ website www.uj.ac.za.

As usual, we appeal to all to adhere to other recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times.

Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa, thank you!

Issued by:

Professor Kinta Burger

Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal

 University of Johannesburg             

Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala

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