Alumni to play integral part in new strategic direction

Annette Willemse -- Tue, 12/09/2014 - 09:45

Alumni to play integral part in new strategic direction

“Ten years after the North-West University (NWU) was established in 2004, the uni­versity is at a critical point in its history and decisions which Council takes now will have far-reaching consequences for the future”. This is the message from Prof Dan Kgwadi, Vice-Chancellor of the NWU, to the alumni fraternity of the institution.

  After the merger the NWU established itself as a significant new university in the country. One of the great successes of the merger was the consolidation and expansion of our core activities, namely teaching-learning and research. There has also been substantial infrastructural development on all campuses.

However, according to Prof Kgwadi, one area which remains challeng­ing is transformation. 

Prof Dan Kgwadi Ms Alwine Naude, Alumni Coordinator at the NWU Vaal with recent graduates of the Campus

Transformation is necessary

An international panel evaluation of the ex­tent to which the university has achieved its merger objectives suggests that more needs to be done to ensure that the divide between a historically black and historically white university is overcome. It is not suggested that transformation is merely a numbers game. Demographic transformation is a necessary but insufficient condition for the kind of deep transformation which will strengthen the university’s contri­bution to social cohesion and nation building.

How effective is our management model?

Another area that requires attention is the way in which the university is structured and, in particular, the management model. Professor Kgwadi explains that the  merger employed a management model which took account of the geographical separation of the campuses and sought to establish local accountability for perfor­mance by placing a campus rector at the head of each campus with an Institutional Office providing the strategic lead in policy and process development. This model served the university well in the past. It allowed the necessary stability for the consolidation of the merger, permitted campuses to address their weaknesses and encouraged strong campus accountability.

However, the model is constantly criticised explains Prof Kwgadi, and ads that it resembles a federal model and has some negative effects in encouraging competition rather than co-operation between campuses. The model fur­ther encourages the idea that the campuses are semi-autonomous and can establish separate and possibly non-aligned strategic directions. Apart from these concerns, there are also significant issues of affordability and efficiency.

We need one identity

Structural adjustment may there­fore be necessary to ensure that a university-wide identity and culture is embedded and that strong transformation initiatives are centrally steered. "We must establish and nur­ture a single university cul­ture and identity which leads to an integrated university with equity of provision across the campuses", says Prof Kgwadi.

Developing a new strategic agenda

During the second half of this year, the senior leader­ship team engaged in the formulation of a strategic agenda for the university for the next 10 years to 2025. Council is constantly being updated about the process and will ultimate­ly approve the strategic agenda and the goals and targets for the future. "We will engage with you - our valued alumni, to enrich our thinking  and we will continue to inform you about the progress of this important process. I wish to extend my thanks to you, our alumni, for your support since my appointment earlier in the year. Please continue to contribute to making this great university even better."