VUT WELCOMES THE NEW VICE CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL
02 February 2024
In a momentous occasion, the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) on 01 February 2024, extended a warm welcome to its newly appointed Vice Chancellor and Principal, Professor Stephen Khehla Ndlovu.
Over the next five years, Prof Ndlovu will be at the helm of the institution, providing strategic leadership and management, aligning VUT’s functions with its vision, mission, and strategic plans while ensuring harmony with national and regional government policy initiatives.
During a small welcoming ceremony held at the VUT Council Chambers and virtually on MS Teams, Prof. Ndlovu was welcomed by the Chairperson of the University Council, Prof. Mandla Radebe along with his deputy, Ms. Jackie Manche. Also in attendance were representatives from key University stakeholders, including the Council members, the management committee (ManCom), Institutional Forum (IF), representatives from the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), Convocation and the Student Representative Council (SRC).
In an atmosphere charged with enthusiasm and anticipation, address after address, Prof Ndlovu was congratulated on his appointment, with each speaker also pledging their support for him. A shared sentiment which vibrated across the room was that of a commitment to contribute to Prof Ndlovu’s vision, as well as support his initiatives that would enhance the University’s academic excellence, research opportunities, foster interdisciplinary collaborations, and promote a student-centered learning environment.
Representing ManCom, Dr Simphiwe Nelana who admirably held the fort as the interim Vice-Chancellor and Principal from October 2023 assured the new VC that he is inheriting a capable management team that wants to see the institution turn the tide and succeed. “No one in management was opposed to your appointment – and that is therefore a sign that everyone is ready to support you,” Dr Nelana said.
In his address, Prof Mandla Radebe also added his voice to the chorus congratulating and welcoming Prof Ndlovu to VUT, adding that his appointment comes at a pivotal time for VUT. “We are confident that your vision, expertise, and passion for education will guide us to new heights. We look forward to working closely with you to further enhance the academic excellence, research endeavors, and community engagement that define our institution,” said Prof Radebe. He added that he would also like to commend Prof Ndlovu for what he termed “his bravery to take up this task when called to do so.”
In concluding, Prof Radebe said as VUT ushers in a new era under Prof Ndlovu’s leadership, he wished to express his gratitude to all those who have contributed to the growth and success of the university. “We also acknowledge the tireless efforts of the outgoing acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Speech Nelana and his management, for their dedication and leadership during their tenure. Prof Radebe acknowledged that Dr Nelana came in at a difficult time, but along with ManCom, were unperturbed by the incredulity and never despaired in the season of darkness.”
Taking to the podium, Prof Ndlovu said he appreciates the warm reception and was grateful to Council for the confidence in him to lead VUT to greater heights. Expressing his commitment to the VUT and the task at hand, he said he was looking forward to, jointly with the VUT community, chart a course towards academic excellence, innovation, collaborations. “The challenges of VUT can only be addressed by the people of VUT across all levels of the University,” Prof Ndlovu said. He emphasised that he embraces an inclusive approach to dealing with matters, saying that everyone is important and has an equally important role to play for VUT to succeed.
Without delving much into his plans for the institution, he said one of his key priority areas will be to improve the University Rankings, which he says it only takes understanding the criteria of these rankings and measuring ourselves against our gaps. He also emphasised the need for VUT, like any other university to invest time and efforts in building strong partnerships.
A visionary leader and new era for the University
Prof Ndlovu’s reputation as a forward-thinking academic and administrator precedes him, and the VUT community is eager to witness the positive transformations that are expected to unfold under his leadership, with many saying that the challenges of the modern academic landscape will undoubtedly be met with resilience and innovation under his stewardship.
The official commencement of Prof. Ndlovu’s duties at VUT has been described as the beginning of an exciting chapter for the University, as it ushers in a transformative leader known for his visionary approach and academic prowess. This is evidenced in his wealth of experience in academia, having served in various leadership roles at prestigious institutions before assuming the mantle of the Vice Chancellor and Principal at VUT.
His immediate past position before joining VUT was Vice Principal: Strategy, Risk and Advisory Services at the University of South Africa (UNISA). He also served at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), where he served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: People and Operations, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Resources and Planning, respectively.
He also held various senior leadership roles at numerous institutions of higher learning, both within South Africa and internationally. Notable among these are positions at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), University of Limpopo (UL), University of Zululand (UniZulu), and the University of Massachusetts in the United States. His influence extends beyond academia, as evidenced by his impactful contributions to the Department of Higher Education, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the American Institute for Research (AIR). His multifaceted expertise and global engagement underscore his commitment to advancing education and research on a broad scale.
The commencement ceremony was not just a formal introduction; it also served as a platform for Prof Ndlovu to connect with the various university stakeholders on a personal level. Over the next seven days, he will continue with a comprehensive integrated stakeholder engagement roadshow, where he will interact with faculty members, students, and staff to foster a sense of unity and shared purpose.