Being elected president of the Convocation of the University of the Witwatersrand, which is one of the top performing universities in the country is exciting, challenging, and full of opportunities. I have served as a member of the Executive Committee of Convocation since 2008 - I know where the Convocation is; and I know where it has the potential to go. I plan to utilize my experience as an educator and a research and development expert to galvanize graduates and local business to increase community outreach and giving. I plan to take advantage of the fact that Wits sits in the economic hub of South Africa to mobilize funds for scholarships and fellowships.
I also hope to remind Wits graduates from all racial and cultural backgrounds that Wits belongs to all of us. There is a good fortune that we have received by being products of the University of the Witwatersrand, and so I want to challenge and encourage Wits graduates to think about what we all have to offer to Wits. As parents always want better for their children, we as graduates of Wits should want better for our university and so should speak well of Wits wherever we are. This is not just good for Wits but it is good for the value of the qualifications that we obtained at Wits. The involvement of black members of Convocation is one of our major challenges that we face. Many of the black alumni, while not negative about Wits, remain indifferent. I plan to work on getting more black members of Convocation involved. My hope is that all will accept the challenge and offer their expertise and dedication to the work of Convocation as well as volunteer for committee work so that we contribute towards making Wits one of the top 100 universities in the world. I plan to set up a few committees to support the work of convocation. I am a huge believer in committees for several reasons:
Currently we have a few sub-committees operational, three of which are in my view very important:
Just as those members of Convocation came to me asking me to stand for presidency because they want a new way of doing things, I plan to get in contact with all members and ask them to participate. I am of course very humbled that someone believed in my ability to move the Convocation forward, but I know that the reality is: I NEED A LOT OF HELP!
I strongly urge all members to volunteer to serve on convocation sub-committees. Stand for election on the executive committee. Take ownership of Convocation. I know that there are thousands out there that love Wits as much as I do. I'm counting on all members to work with me to move the Convocation forward.
My view is that the role of Convocation has not caught on at Wits yet. I know this from my own experience as a student and staff at Wits that it wasn’t ingrained and instilled in me to participate and give back until recent years. Now I know that we, graduates and staff, have got to take care of Wits. The culture of giving back and protecting the Wits brand has to be created across the university community. Other universities send that message of giving back loudly and clearly and we have got to do the same. I would like to see Convocation having a much more visible participation in University events such as WALE.
I envisage a better convocation, one that supports the vision of the university and works collaboratively with the University management to build a caring Wits and so a better Wits. It is important that we paint the picture of our common goal, which is to make Wits one of top 100 universities in the world.
I love Wits. I love being on the campus. I get inspired by walking the campus, talking to students and watching the physical changes. From the newly trimmed trees to the regular conversations I have with students (sometimes on face book), it’s quite obvious that there is something different going on at Wits. I enjoy the apparent rush, ‘get it done’ attitude in many of the departments I interact with, and a good deal of hustling and bustling I see among the students to grasp knowledge and get that education. Our university is not perfect, but which university is? What is important is not that we are perfect but that we want to maintain our reputation as a great university! No university becomes perfect, but some become great!