Message: Convocation President
President of Convocation
Since the President’s message in the 2012 UKZNTouch alumnus publication a number of developments have taken place at our alma mater which I will highlight in this current message. The University has continued to excel and UKZN is ranked in the top 400 universities internationally and among the top four in Africa, according to the Times Higher Education rankings – an achievement for which we can all be proud.
Our very own Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, received the first South African-German Science Award for being one of South Africa’s top researchers and scientists. Most recently (April 2013) he was honoured by President Jacob Zuma with the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) - this is awarded to South African citizens ‘for achievements that have impacted internationally and served the interests of the Republic of South Africa’. In addition to the achievements of Professor Makgoba, an impressive number of UKZN academics have received international recognition and awards for their research in many categories.
On the student front I am happy to report that the 2013 registration of students went remarkably smoothly and we acknowledge with gratitude the student leadership for their level of maturity in timeously engaging the University over any issue. We also appreciate the student leadership for extending invitations to the Convocation Executive (Convex) to their activities such as Student Induction.
A pioneering development to take place at the University is the introduction of isiZulu proficiency as a module in all undergraduate degree programmes. All students registering for undergraduate degrees at UKZN from 2014 will – unless they get exemption - be required to pass or obtain a credit for a prescribed isiZulu module before they can graduate. During the first phase of the implementation (up until 2018), students and staff will develop communicative competence in isiZulu and English sufficient for academic interaction. Appropriate credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing language courses will be made available by the University during this time.
UKZN is proud that it is the first South African institution of higher learning to make bilingualism a compulsory requirement for undergraduates and thus contribute to providing the country’s young professionals with vital communication skills.
In addition to participation in the various University structures, committees and events, Convex has participated in a number of alumni and donor-related activities both locally and internationally. Such participation has allowed me and my fellow Convex members to interact with a great number of alumni and to secure a better understanding of alumni needs and ways in which to build and maintain relationships with you. All graduates are urged to attend these events as they provide excellent networking opportunities as well as opportunities to receive news on the latest developments taking place at the University.
A particular highlight for Convex this year was the high quality of Convocation Award nominations received. These awards honour and recognise graduates who have excelled in their particular field. In 2013 we recognised the excellent achievements of two such well-known achievers: Dr Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan (2013 Convocation Award for outstanding contribution to Law and Management Studies) and Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim (2013 Convocation Special Award for a graduate and employee of the University of KwaZulu-Natal who has contributed significantly to the field of work engaged in at the University of KwaZulu-Natal). It is such people who are true ambassadors of the University and who make us so proud to be fellow graduates.
Convex has identified fund-raising as a major focus of activity and Convex members have themselves pledged funds to show their commitment to their fund-raising initiatives. Convex has met with various committees at the University and it has been decided to focus on the Alumni Bursary Fund for the next few years. I further urge all of you to please consider making a donation to the University as any contribution will assist in allowing your alma mater to maintain its position as a University of which we can all be proud.
Before ending, I wish to acknowledge the sterling work done by the late Chief Justice Pius Langa. Chief Justice Langa was the first Ombud for the University of KwaZulu-Natal and during his term as the Ombud, he dealt with all cases referred to his office with dignity and with the utmost respect to the complainants. Chief Justice Langa, who played an important role in the leadership of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, was appointed as a government representative on the Council of the University of Natal in April 1998. He resigned from Council at the end of September 1998 and became Chancellor in October of the same year serving in that position until the end of 2003. In 2009 the University of KwaZulu-Natal bestowed a LLD honoris causa on Chief Justice Langa for excellence in promoting the advancement of human rights.
I close with very best wishes to all of you and hope that many of you will attend our events, consider donating to the University and explore the possibility of furthering your studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
With best wishes,
(President and Chair of Convocation)