VC calls for less talk and more action to make a difference in the new academic year
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VC calls for less talk and more action to make a difference in the new academic year

Vice-Chancellor (VC) and Principal; Professor Gordon Zide addresses staff at students at the 2018 Academic Opening

Qhawekazi Memani

On 9 February the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) academic year was officially declared open by the Vice-Chancellor (VC) and Principal: Professor Gordon Zide at the VUT Desmond Tutu Hall.

Recognising other religious faiths, he prefaced his address on the book of Philippians, Chapter 4 verse 8, which speaks about following the truth and all that is good, as VUT embarks on the year’s journey.

Members of staff and academics, industry partners and students, eagerly awaited to hear what the new VC would say in his first address and what the various Deans have in store for their Faculties.

Prof Zide officially welcomed new and returning students and staff members to VUT and then shared his vision for the University where he called for more action and ‘little talk’. In his address he focused on the importance of values and living by them; and the importance of not forgetting why the University is in operation.

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Human Sciences, Rianna van der Bank shared that the faculty has about 4 090 students who are performing exceptionally well, with a pass rate of 80% and a success rate of 77%.

Highlights included the successful introduction of the Post Graduate Diploma in Education in 2017 and Bachelor in Education (B.Ed) in 2018 which already has an intake of 160 students. Then, three fashion students were selected by the Edcon group as part of an internship to sell their clothing line in selected Edgars stores nationwide while four doctoral students and one Master’s student are working on a Nestle research project. This is under the Centre for Livelihood and Excellence within VUT, which does academic research for the food industry.

The Faculty of Management Sciences has 4 500 students. It is the largest faculty within the institution operating within the higher education framework, articulated by new Master’s and Advanced Diplomas. It is also benchmarked locally and abroad because of the highly sought-after graduates it produces. Faculty Executive, Prof Roy Dhurup said that the faculty takes pride in research and had produced a 50% research output in the past 10 years. Its goals revolve, amongst many other things, around teaching and learning, community engagement and research.

‘Sharing science and technology’ is the Applied and Computer Sciences Faculty slogan which comprises seven departments and three business units with one purpose in common which is to live, work, teach and learn together.

The faculty exists to respond to many questions, concerning renewable and non-renewable energy. Prof Raymond Mabuza, Executive Dean, shared that the faculty has much to boast about. It has published articles in prestigious journals, has an IBM partnership for staff and students, it hosted a successful conference on regenerative tissue engineering that was attended by renowned local and international speakers, has an EMBRYO Unit which deals with water treatment that is sought after by industries and held two seminars to develop and encourage learners and students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas. These events were graced by the presence of the Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor.

Professor Morris Ndenge of the Engineering Faculty said his departments are action orientated and that it is in their very nature as engineers to “speak less and action more”. He shared that the faculty has 8 000 students across 10 departments. “The demand for engineers requires thinking out of the box,” he said.

He shared that collaborations with universities locally and internationally continue to grow. All programmes have been accredited by the professional body of engineers. The department works with industry partners in ensuring that the students are placed in experiential training.

He said he is also looking forward to making VUT greener by bringing in solar energy solutions with Eskom that will save the University a lot of money. The faculty is also exploring ways of becoming more sustainable.

“Only you can make a difference,” was a quote shared by both the VC and Prof Peter Dzimbo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) in his vote of thanks.

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