Dr Reuel Khoza to be Installed as Chancellor of UKZN

Dr Reuel Khoza to be Installed as Chancellor of UKZN
Distinguished thought leader and UKZN Chancellor, Dr Reuel Khoza.Click here for isiZulu version

Distinguished thought leader, captain of industry and change agent at the forefront of transformation of the South African political economy, Dr Reuel Khoza will be installed as UKZN Chancellor at a ceremony on the Westville campus on 4 May.

‘I appreciate the profound honour this bestows upon me as well as the attendant responsibilities,’ the President of the Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA) said.

Ms Normah Zondo, Executive Director: Corporate Relations said the University is honoured to welcome Khoza as its fourth Chancellor. ‘Dr Khoza is acknowledged for his deep commitment to transformation, his academic prowess and it goes without saying, his remarkable business acumen. He is also an accomplished author and is fluent in several languages. We are confident he will serve the University with distinction and we look forward to interacting with him at graduation ceremonies,’ said Zondo.

As Chancellor, Khoza will serve as the titular head of the University - presiding over graduation ceremonies, conferring degrees and awarding diplomas and certificates, among other functions. He was appointed to serve a four-year term in late 2021, but his official installation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The installation will be followed by the University’s first in-person graduation ceremonies in more than two years. Known for its jubilant and entertaining ceremonies, UKZN will see 8 795 graduands cross the stage from 4 to 21 May at 30 ceremonies on the Westville campus. Around 64% of the graduates are women.

An impressive 410 students will graduate cum laude, and 121 summa cum laude.

The University will confer 6 094 undergraduate degrees and 2 701 postgraduate degrees, of which 213 are doctoral degrees. ‘The University is incredibly proud of the achievements of 84 students with disabilities, 30 of whom completed postgraduate studies,’ said Zondo.

Included among the graduates are 193 international students, 163 of whom will receive postgraduate degrees.

A total of 1 490 degrees will be conferred in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; 1 067 in the College of Health Sciences; 4 230 in the College of Humanities and 2 008 in the College of Law and Management Studies.

Celebrate our graduates’ achievements with us by using the hashtag #UKZNgrad2022 on social media, or visiting our FacebookTwitter and YouTube channels from 4 to 21 May. The Installation of the Chancellor will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Ranks in the Top 2.5% Universities Worldwide

UKZN Ranks in the Top 2.5% Universities Worldwide
UKZN has been placed 484 out of 19 788 universities worldwide by the Center for World University Rankings.

UKZN has been ranked in the top 2.5% universities worldwide.

This is according to the 2022-23 edition of the Global 2000 list by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) published on 25 April. The list can be found on the CWUR website: www.cwur.org.

According to these rankings, the University is placed 484 out of 19 788 universities worldwide. The Education Ranking is at 497; the Employability Ranking is 361, and the Research Ranking is 475. The rankings place UKZN in 4th spot in Africa and also 4th in South Africa. The University has an overall score of 74.3.

Good governance, management of academic talent, research productivity, quality programmes and the high calibre of staff and students contributed to UKZN’s placement in the top 500 of the world’s leading universities.

The CWUR publishes the largest academic rankings of global universities.

The rankings are unique in that:

* Objective indicators are used for all four key pillars underlying the methodology of the ranking (education, employability, faculty, and research) with no reliance on surveys and university data submissions;

* Equal emphasis is put on student-related and faculty-related indicators;

* 19 788 universities are ranked according to their academic performance.

‘UKZN’s ranking in the top 2.5% of the world’s universities enhances the image, brand and reputation of the University. This augurs well for UKZN as students, academics, alumni, funders and global partners want to be associated with high-performing universities with high rankings. Rankings are an independent tool for monitoring performance. They focus on the core functions of universities which include: research, teaching, meaningful community engagement and internationalisation. They assist institutions in measuring their performance and thus self-monitoring and self-improvement while also fostering healthy competition and best practice among universities,’ said Ms Normah Zondo, UKZN’s Executive Director: Corporate Relations.


About the methodology:

CWUR uses seven objective and robust indicators grouped into four areas to rank the world’s universities:

1) Education, measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have won major academic distinctions relative to the University’s size (25%).
2) Employability, measured by the number of a University’s alumni who have held top executive positions at the world’s largest companies relative to the University’s size (25%).
3) Faculty, measured by the number of faculty members who have won major academic distinctions (10%).
4) Research:
i) Research output, measured by the total number of research articles (10%).
ii) High-quality publications, measured by the number of research articles appearing in top-tier journals (10%).
iii) Influence, measured by the number of research articles appearing in highly-influential journals (10%).
iv) Citations, measured by the number of highly-cited research articles (10%).

About the Center for World University Rankings

The CWUR is a leading consulting organisation providing policy advice, strategic insights, and consulting services to governments and universities to improve educational and research outcomes. It publishes authoritative global university rankings, known for objectivity, transparency, and consistency, which are trusted by students, academics, university administrators, and governments from around the world.

Words: NdabaOnline

Image: Supplied


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Two Oceans Marathon Runner-Up Makes UKZN Proud

Two Oceans Marathon Runner-Up Makes UKZN Proud
UKZN alumnus and runner-up at the Two Oceans Marathon, Mr Nkosikhona Mhlakwana.Click here for isiZulu version

Bachelor of Education Honours graduate in Leadership, Management and Policy, Mr Nkosikhona “Pitbull” Mhlakwana seems to be winning on all fronts, having come in at second place in the Total Sports Two Oceans Marathon on 17 April 2022 in Cape Town.

Scheduled to graduate formally on 9 May 2022, the 28-year-old Howick-born athlete said he was elated to represent his club (Hollywoodbets Athletics Club), his country, his province, UKZN and his hometown in the 56km ultra marathon.

Mhlakwana who started preparing for the marathon in November 2021, said his coach, Mr Prodigal Khumalo; manager, Mr Ross Waters; sponsors, Adidas, Threshold, Orange Grove, Bio77 and 32Gi; supporters and family motivate him. ‘My family believes in me so much that even though I came second, to them I finished first.’

Commenting on the race he added, ‘For me it’s always about setting goals that I can achieve, and the goal was simple for me on the day, it was to run 3 hours 10 minutes and, I ran 3 hours 9 minutes, which gave a me a good podium finish, so I’m happy.’

UKZN Senior Sports Officer Mr Zweli Sapula said that the Division was proud of Mhlakwana’s accomplishment which reflected the quality of the University’s Athletics Club.

‘As a Sports Scholarship recipient, Nkosikhona formed part of the athletics team that trained on the Edgewood campus. We set up an Athletics Club and recruited athletes to run in groups around the area. We then introduced high and long jump where Nkosikhona joined the Executive Sports Committee to improve athletics on his campus and was later named Sportsman of the Year in 2019 after winning the Zululand 56km ultra marathon,’ said Sapula.

Mhlakwana shared his dream of returning to his alma mater to assist in recruiting and retaining talent within the Sports Division.

He reminisced on his first Comrades Marathon in 2019 when he made the 11th place finish due to cramps and got his nickname, “Pitbull” after crawling to the finish line. Mhlakwana plans to run his second Comrades this year but is still enjoying his current achievement at the Two Oceans Marathon.

Encouraging others to always believe in themselves and to work hard to accomplish their dreams, he shared his motto, saying, ‘If it’s in your mind, then your body can achieve it.’

He also thanked his supporters, family, and team for their unwavering support.

Follow Mhlakwana on his athletics journey on Instagram @Nkosikhona_Mhlakwana and Twitter @N_Mhlakwana.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Candiese Lenferna


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Flying the UKZN Flag High

Flying the UKZN Flag High
Professor Saul Cobbing with his wife Mandy.Click here for isiZulu version

Associate Professor in the Discipline of Physiotherapy, Saul Cobbing is spending his sabbatical as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto (UofT) in Canada.

During his three months in Toronto, Cobbing, who is a fellow of the UKZN College of Health Sciences’ DRILL programme, has focused on building collaborative partnerships between UKZN and UofT, and more broadly between the Global South and the Global North.

UofT academic staff gave Cobbing a warm welcome despite the freezing weather. ‘I have worked with some of the academics previously, specifically on research projects related to the rehabilitation of people living with HIV,’ he said.

He has presented lectures to Physical Therapy students and was asked to facilitate the UofT inter-professional training module on chronic pain management.

Cobbing was a keynote speaker at the Canadian National Summit on Episodic Disabilities and Employment in March, with his presentation titled: How Episodic Disability Impacts Employees: An International Perspective.

The UofT International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation invited him to participate in an online panel discussion on Exploring the Delivery of Rehabilitation in Global and Rural Contexts on 30 March, where he shared his experience of working on the UKZN Decentralised Clinical Training Programme.

At the end of April, Cobbing participated in a webinar hosted by the University of Toronto Rehabilitation Sciences Institute monthly Leadership Rehab Rounds. His presentation, titled Lessons from Africa: giving rehabilitation a more human face, described how African philosophies such as Ubuntu and Seriti can benefit global health care via a focus on the collective and community rather than solely focusing on the individual.

For the remainder of his sabbatical, Cobbing plans to continue to build bridges between UKZN and UofT and to work on a collaborative research projects involving both institutions.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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School of Arts Pays Homage to Lecturer with Posthumous Exhibition

School of Arts Pays Homage to Lecturer with Posthumous Exhibition
Ms Claire Dongo’s posthumous works on display at the Centre for Visual Art in Pietermaritzburg.Click here for isiZulu version

The School of Arts (Digital Arts) paid tribute to lecturer Ms Claire Dongo by hosting a posthumous exhibition of her PhD creative work in her honour.

Dongo was one of Zimbabwe’s leading creatives and digital artists who lost her battle with Lupus. The exhibition will run until 13 May at the Jack Heath Art Gallery at the Centre for Visual Art on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

Dean and Head of the School Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa sponsored the exhibition to celebrate Dongo’s works and her life.

Dongo’s research focused on the fragmented image in 20th and 21st century art practice. She had more than 15 years of experience in both the commercial and educational sectors of digital art. She was extremely passionate about mentoring talent. She specialised in digital animation and produced an award-winning short animated film titled Amoeba

Before joining UKZN, Dongo taught at Vega and the Zimbabwe Institute of Digital Arts and worked extensively in the industry as a graphic designer and 3D animator. Her diverse expertise in the digital arts straddled new media art, animation, graphic design and digital image making. This is evident in her filmography and in the works on exhibit. Also significant was her political and social awareness. Her sense of humanity and humanitarianism underpins most of her work.

Lecturer in Digital Arts Dr Michelle Stewart said, ‘Claire will be remembered for her grace, wisdom, determination, and quiet strength. She was utterly dedicated to her students and fiercely loyal to this discipline. Despite her consistent ill health, she would take on anything she was asked to do and more - she was a rock and a pillar of strength. Many do not know how much she suffered with ill health, as she seldom complained and would turn up against all odds. On the rare occasion during online teaching, she relented and asked one of us to fill in - this only when she was too ill to even speak. Yet she would still log on to listen. Her commitment was unyielding.’

Dr Yane Bakreski added, ‘Life can be so illogical at times, rest in peace Claire. Your memory will never be forgotten.’ Her mother Stella said, ‘We are heartbroken to lose her but believe heaven has gained a bright star.’

At the time of her passing early in 2022, she was wrapping up production on a commissioned 2D animated film called Zimbabwe’s Sad Story. The film is about Hopewell Chin’ono, an award-winning Zimbabwean journalist and documentary film maker who is noted for exposing corruption in Zimbabwe and for his detention by the Zimbabwean authorities without bail.

In 2018 Dongo’s digital installation The Many Faces of Bob was selected for the International Symposium for Electronic Art (ISEA), one of the most prestigious and longest running international electronic arts symposia. Her work for ISEA portrays a series of fragmented portraits of Robert Mugabe from the 1960s to the 1980s and is made up of photographs and videos documenting his political life. The series reflects his fall from grace from a cherished icon of independence and freedom to a corrupt and reviled dictator.

In 2020, Dongo was among 30 artists shortlisted for a United Nations (UN) funded exhibition in association with the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Green Enterprize Programme. Her work - entitled The Many Faces of Green Labor visually and conceptually explores the phenomenon of Chatbots and their negative and positive impact on jobs.

Another significant work is the #I’mStaying piece for the #I’m StayingMovement - an underlying message of hope and reconciliation. This work has been well documented on Facebook and has become a symbol for the movement.

Words: Melissa MungrooMichelle Stewart

Photographs: Dr Yane Bakreski, Mr Wayne Reddiar and Peter Stewart


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Webinar to Launch We Care Wellness Programme

Webinar to Launch We Care Wellness Programme
Employee Wellness Programme icons.

UKZN staff need care and support to cope with the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related societal challenges.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize launched the College’s We Care Wellness Programme at a recent webinar. The programme is integrated and aligned with the institutional wellness programme.

The webinar was facilitated by Professor Matshepo Matoane, Dean and Head of the School of Applied Human Sciences and College Wellness Champion.

Mkhize highlighted the need to promote mental health. The Global Burden of Diseases analysis estimates that by 2030, non-communicable diseases including neuropsychiatric disorders, will account for seven of the top 10 causes of the disease burden, with depression being the leading cause.

‘We are also realising that people’s quality of life is severely affected by mental health issues, with many unable to live fruitful, happy lives. Mental health has been referred to as a silent crisis that is of international concern,’ added Mkhize.

He noted that South Africa suffers from a shortage of mental health professionals, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, and psychological counsellors. Furthermore, most mental health specialists would have been trained using a biopsychosocial model which excludes the spiritual component.

‘Traditional healing has been incorporated into South Africa’s primary healthcare system for many years, but the Traditional Health Care Act has not been implemented at the appropriate level for, among other reasons, legal issues and a lack of communication between the parallel health systems,’ said Mkhize.

Ms Busisiwe Ramabodu, Human Resources Development Director noted that it was important that programmes such as the CHUM Wellness Programme exist in order to ensure that help seeking behaviour is destigmatised.

‘Access to mental health services is very limited especially in a poor country like South Africa, but we are very fortunate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal that all our employees have access to these services and these services are provided for free to employees directly as well as their immediate family members. Not many people in the country can say the same.

‘I am very excited that the College is creating this platform and this safe space and I hope that all the line managers in the College are going to embrace it because most of the time we see poor performance and see poor behaviour, and say it’s because the employee is irresponsible or is a shirker before we look at what actually is going on with the employee,’ she said.

She added that we all have a responsibility to ensure that UKZN overall has employees who are well both physically and mentally.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Supplied


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Critical Perspectives on the Crisis in Ukraine Explored in Webinar

Critical Perspectives on the Crisis in Ukraine Explored in Webinar
From left: Professor Steven Friedman, Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, Dr Marshall Maposa, Dr Noluthando Phungula and Professor Suriamurthee Maistry.Click here for isiZulu version

The College of Humanities and the School of Education hosted a webinar on Critical Perspectives on the Crisis in Ukraine that featured Professor Steven Friedman (University of Johannesburg), Professor Bheki Mngomezulu (University of the Western Cape), Dr Marshall Maposa (UKZN), and Dr Noluthando Phungula (UKZN), and was facilitated by Professor Suriamurthee Maistry (UKZN).

Well-known political scientist and columnist for Business Day, Friedman spoke on Why democrats should not choose a side. ‘Not choosing a side does not mean that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is even vaguely defensible. It violates basic democratic and humane norms. The South African chorus cheering Russia on - the SA Communist Party, sections of the ANC, former President Jacob Zuma - are, to put it as politely as possible, in a time warp,’ said Friedman.

Friedman pointed to the United Nations and the West’s double standards on international conflict. ‘I think it is entirely appropriate to do what the government has done. Why is it taking sides if you abstain and it is not taking sides if you vote for the resolution? If you vote for the resolution, you should be supporting the other side. The point in terms of the morality of this issue is that the bombing of Ukraine is totally unacceptable but so is the 70-year occupation of Palestine, and so is the bombing of Iraq, so is, to get back to Palestine, the reduction of Gaza to rubble… the Saudis are bombing Yemen.’

Friedman argued that, ‘The world needs a new non-aligned movement because democracy is about the right of people to govern themselves, not the right of states to force them into a bloc.’

Political analyst Mngomezulu focused on a realist and institutionalist explanation of countries’ responses to the crisis in the UkraineHe drew on two international relations theories - realism and institutionalism - to explain the action or inaction of various countries and institutions regarding the Ukraine crisis. National interests have been the main deciding factor in how countries have responded to the crisis. Multilateralism has also dictated how members of multilateral institutions such as NATO should respond to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine,’ he said.

Senior lecturer in history education at UKZN’s School of Education, Maposa addressed Historicising African standpoints on the crisis in Ukraine. ‘The crisis in Ukraine has captured mainstream global attention since February 2022. Although responses have varied, African countries have been questioned for not unanimously and explicitly condemning Russia and throwing their weight behind Ukraine. Many explanations can be proffered for African standpoints on this crisis,’ said Maposa. He argued that ‘Africans’ responses should be informed by their interpreted past, observed present and anticipated future.’

UKZN Political Science lecturer Phungula’s topic was, Between a rock and a hard place: South Africa’s response to the war in Ukraine. ‘South Africa’s decision to abstain from a United Nations vote condemning Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine has received much criticism. President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended this neutral stance on the grounds that a peaceful resolution should always be sought in such cases.’

She noted that South Africa is influenced by its historical ties with the former Soviet Union, which supported the liberation struggle in Africa. Phungula pointed out that ‘failure to explore and attend to issues emanating from the disintegration of the Soviet Union is what is causing the international system problems today.’

She argued that neither the West nor the East has Africa’s best interests at heart. ‘African states need to develop their approaches premised on the promotion of human rights and democracy. Our focus must be on developing and maintaining a stable international order based on the rule of law. Individual countries must be guided by their best interests. South Africa must act in its national interests in partnership with BRICS, African, Western, and other nations.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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