“University should act as societal gatekeeper” - Vice-Chancellor

Annette Willemse -- Fri, 03/18/2016 - 12:21

“University should act as societal gatekeeper” - vice-chancellor

“Notwithstanding challenges, the North-West University remains a driver of success and innovation.” This is according to the vice-chancellor, Prof Dan Kgwadi. During a recent breakfast at the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal), members of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology gathered for a discussion on the NWU´s new strategic positioning and success model.

In his address, Prof Kgwadi referred to the current state of higher education in South Africa as well as the recent events that took place on the Mafikeng Campus. The latter referring to the acts of vandalism and violence that led to the closure of the Mafikeng Campus on 24 February.  According to Prof Kgwadi the campus will reopen for academic activities on 29 March and students will be allowed to move back into the residences on 28 March. All staff members have already resumed their duties.

Prof Herman van der Merwe, Executive Dean Prof Linda du Plessis, Campus Rector (acting)

Each campus is a microcosm of society

Professor Kgwadi reiterated the new strategy statement of the University: “To transform and position the NWU as a unitary institution of superior academic excellence, with a commitment to social justice.” He explained that the challenge for each of the NWU campuses lie therein to find a balance between the three core elements, namely: transformation, superior academic excellence and social justice. “It is important to note that a university represents a microcosm of the society it functions in, and therefore each campus has the responsibility to address the culture of these societies,” explained Prof Kgwadi and added that issues such as poverty, political volatility, racial tension and inequality should be addressed on a societal level.

“It is only by joining hands with our communities that we will be able to defuse the current atmosphere of turmoil and uncertainty. As a university we play a vital role in driving success, innovation and sustainability and henceforth we should act as societal gatekeepers,” said Prof Kgwadi.

Strategic direction to serve as compass to the future

Talking about the new strategy of the University, Prof Kgwadi said that the process to renew was brought about by a strong and clear imperative to change – not because the University have done badly in the past (on the contrary, the NWU has done exceptionally well) but because the institution will not survive and prosper unless it is repositioned for the future.  “As I explained earlier, we are a product of our society and therefore display all the familiar fault lines. Despite this we have reached a substantial consensus on what needs to be done to take us to greater heights.”

According to Prof Kgwadi the rigorous and extensive strategy process has borne fruit. “We need to take a bold step into the future, so that we can build on our current strengths, embrace our rich diversity and make it a positive advantage in the increasingly competitive landscape we inhabit.  As a university we are excited by the prospect of embracing an imagined future which acknowledges our rich past and positions us for the future.”