Growing UKZN with Successful Staff the Key to Future Prosperity
‘The success of staff is the success of UKZN and its management,’ said UKZN’s College of Health Sciences Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Busi Ncama, who was speaking at the College’s 2021 Academic Promotions Workshop.
Directed at all academic staff, the first part of the virtual workshop covered: (1) Criteria for academic promotions; (2) An overview of the academic promotions process and guidelines: a perspective from a senate representative; (3) A perspective from the successful applicant on the old and new policy era; and (4) Unpacking the Research.
Ncama emphasised the need for individuals to start planning an academic career early in their lives, which is why she believes in the need to understand the criteria for promotion from the get go.
She said the purpose of the workshop was to recognise the excellent performance of the College’s academic staff and to provide a clear career path for them at UKZN.
‘Our goal is to recruit top-quality academic staff and recognise their scholarly achievement by appointing them at the appropriate academic level.’
Senate representative on Academic Promotions Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa, gave an overview of academic promotions processes and guidelines. ‘The promotion processes should reflect the REACH-T values of the University.
‘In rewarding and recognising outstanding performance our evaluation has been a holistic one for all candidates,’ said Hlongwa, who advised academics to always read the Academic Appointments and Promotion Policy as well as Procedures and Guidelines thoroughly. ‘Unsuccessful candidates have often not complied with fundamental requirements which are clearly spelt out in the documents.
‘To be successful, you should plan ahead - read the documents way before you apply for promotion to give yourself sufficient time to ensure you have met the criteria,’ she advised.
Professor Shenuka Singh shared some detail on her 11-year academic promotion journey, from 2011 in her position as a lecturer to 2020 when she was promoted to full professorship. Singh said her first application for promotion to senior lecturer was unsuccessful… but she never gave up!
She spoke on the academic promotions process, developing the teaching statement developing the teaching statement, building the portfolio of evidence, and self-assessment and reflexivity. From the process she learned the importance of the timing of submission. ‘Never give up and plan, plan, plan,’ she said.
The first session was concluded by Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, who is the South African Research Chair in the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP), and Deputy Director of the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute (Science), and the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI).
Ndung’u spoke on academic research, giving academics tips on research excellence, manuscript anatomy, mentorship and networking.
The second session, which was equally informative, began with a dynamic presentation by Professor Musa Mabandla on highlighting the key aspects of a good community engagement and university service.
He emphasised two main categories: ‘Activities integrated within teaching and research and activities that come in addition to teaching and research.’
‘The purpose of the Academic Appointment and Promotions Policy is to enable the UKZN to achieve its mission to be academically excellent, innovative in research, critically engaged with society and demographically representative,’ said Mabandla.
The session also covered, Defining Standing in the Discipline presented by Professor Moses Chimbari; and What Were the Noted Gaps and Errors in the Previous Applications: a Perspective from the Previous Dean and Head of School and Chair of the Academic Promotions Panel, Professor Mahmoud Soliman.
Soliman’s presentation was shared with academic staff in the College via a video-recording.
Chimbari commended College management and Human Resources for organising the workshop to assist applicants for academic promotion. ‘I believe it was of immense benefit to would-be applicants. Your actions show that you want people to succeed rather than fail.’
Dr Brenda de Gama thanked the College for organising the workshop. ‘It was very informative and insightful.’
The College’s Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Sinegugu Duma, said: ‘The main message is consistency in all criteria from the time one enters academia to full professorship.’
Words: Nombuso Dlamini