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Building a diverse professoriate through strategic investment

- Wits University

Insights from the Carnegie Diversifying the Academy programme.

Professor Maurice at Carnegie event

The Transformation and Employment Equity Office (TEEO) hosted an event to welcome the newest recipients of grants awarded under the Carnegie Diversifying the Academy (CDTA) programme.  

CDTA funds are targeted at addressing the underrepresentation of Black African and Coloured South African academic staff at Wits by attracting new academic staff into the university, and by providing programmes to support the career development of existing academic staff from the designated groups. The programme was officially launched in 2015 and has successfully recruited intellectuals from industry to join academia while at the same time growing its own timber by identifying and mentoring talented postgraduate students.

The 2023 welcome and networking event took place on 6 September and was attended by the new cohort of 14 grant recipients and 19 returning grantees. To date, 52  grants have been awarded. Between 2021 and 2023 CDTA received 80 applications and 52 were awarded. These include eight new appointment grants for appointments to senior lecturer positions at Wits; thirty enabling grants to support research; five doctoral grants to support contracted academics/researchers at Wits complete their PhD and nine post-doctoral grants for fellows appointed at Wits University.

Professor Maurice at Carnegie event 3

Dr Gillian Mahumane, Lecturer at the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, and Researcher at the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform, is a recipient of the Carnegie Enabling Grant, offered under the CDTA programme. Being part of the programme has provided additional resources to expand her academic endeavours. Of value to her is the relationship between CDTA and leadership in various areas of the University, which in turns facilitates alignment of objectives and expectations.

“The Enabling Grant programme encourages regular check-ins and support through semi-annual meetings between deans and the Head of Transformation. This ensures that candidates receive ongoing assistance and mentorship, guaranteeing their continued growth and success. Assigning a mentor adds an additional layer of personalised guidance, enhancing the programme's effectiveness,” she says.

Carnegie event 300 x 600

These events are an opportunity for grantees to be introduce to the support team and management team of the grant and begin the discussion around managing their grants and reporting requirements. This is also an opportunity for grantees to get to know each other’s academic work and career goals.

Dr Musa Marimani, Researcher and Lecture at both the School of Pathology and the Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, attests that: “The Carnegie DTA research grant has been very useful for purchasing laboratory reagents and recruiting new postgraduate students. The grant also facilitated the formation of local and international collaborations.”

Guest speaker and Wits Business School Director, Professor Maurice Radebe gave an inspirational talk drawing on his recently published book The Fuel to Lead: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders.

Lethu Kapueja, Programme Manager: Wits CDTA stressed that leadership development is an ongoing project.

“Academic leadership is the same as leadership in any area of society; and academics need these type of interventions early in their career just as much as everyone else.”