UKZN Enters New Era with Prof Poku at the Helm
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is set to enter a new dawn as it continues to forge ahead with its business of quality teaching and learning as well as research under the leadership of its new Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku.
Prof Poku - who had been serving as the University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal since October 2018 - was appointed by Council to serve in his position for a five-year term.
Prof Poku holds a PhD in International Political Economy and has a distinguished career in research and policy on the political economy of health and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa as well as institutional management.
He joined the University in 2013 as Health Economics and AIDS Research Institute (HEARD) Executive Director. In 2017, he would take up the reigns as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Law and Management Studies. In October 2018, upon the resignation of Dr Albert van Jaarsveld as Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Poku was appointed to the position on an acting capacity.
Dr Letticia Moja, Acting Chair of the UKZN Council, welcomed Prof Poku’s appointment. She said Council looks forward to his leadership and guidance, and is confident of his ability to take the University to greater heights.
The Vice-Chancellor is the highest academic leadership position within the University’s structure and is responsible for providing leadership in all strategic areas.
Accepting his appointment, Prof Poku said, ‘It’s an honour and a privilege for me to be chosen as UKZN’s new Vice-Chancellor and Principal. I’m really excited about the opportunity to lead UKZN into the future, to build on the legacy of the University, and to continue to fulfil the founding vision of UKZN in the strategic areas of research, training, and outreach. I look forward to working with the University Community in achieving our goals.’
The appointment was also welcomed by other stakeholders at the University.
University of KwaZulu-Natal Staff Union (UKSU) Chairman, Raymond Parkies, also welcomed Prof Poku’s appointment, saying the union looks forward to working with him and supporting his endeavours. ‘UKSU would like to congratulate Prof Poku in his appointment. We pray that he will put the well-being of staff and students first so that there is peace in our institution, which is what UKSU is striving for. We hope that he will maintain stability in terms of good governance and make sure that the morale of the staff is kept high,’ he said.
UKZN Convocation President, Mr Fanle Sibisi, commended the transparency and good work of Council in the process of appointing the new VC. He said Convocation was hopeful that Prof Poku would receive sufficient support from executive management and Council in particular; that he would improve staff morale; and align himself to the University’s strategic plan as he discharges his duties as VC. ‘It (the appointment) was a long process. We (Convocation) participated from the beginning to the end and appreciate everyone’s contribution. We support him as long as he will do good. Where he does well, we will compliment him and where he does not, we will criticise him constructively. We wish him all the best,’ said Sibisi.
Photograph: Albert Hirasen