From the Vice-Chancellor

Moira Muller -- Fri, 06/23/2017 - 09:44

Setting the record straight

1 December 2017

The chairperson of the Potchefstroom Student Campus Council (SCC), Mr Jacques Hugo, claimed in a video message that the management of the NWU said one thing regarding the new corporate colour for the NWU, but acted differently. This has, according to him, led to a breakdown in trust between students and management. As this is a serious accusation, I wish to set the record straight.

Our thinking on the matter was based on the premise that a unitary university’s branding should reflect that unity. The process was thus informed by our new strategy and structure, as approved by Council and incorporated in our Statute.

The consultation process regarding a new primary corporate colour was part of a larger process which also entailed thorough research and careful consideration on how our visual identity could best reflect our unitary approach and our view to the future.

The consultation process was never a referendum. It was an attempt to listen to what the NWU community says. It did give all stakeholders the opportunity to express a view, which we certainly took into consideration. We, inter alia, took note of the preference some students expressed for the old colours (albeit in a combined version). Likewise, we noted substantial support for purple.

In the end, management had to take a long-term view informed by strategic considerations which will best serve the whole NWU, not only a certain segment. Our Council accepted this and approved the choice of purple as primary corporate colour.

We have therefore started implementing this immediately and will roll out the new branding with vigour in the new year. We believe that it will soon be widely recognised and accepted by the majority of our stakeholders and the broader community.

I therefore request those who are not happy with the decision, to accept it in good spirit and to contribute to creating an inclusive NWU that students and staff from various backgrounds can call home.

New primary colour for the NWU

24 November 2017

In view of the NWU's unitary faculty-driven model, it was prudent to revisit our current use of three corporate colours, representing each of the three campuses. Council had approved in principle the adoption of a new monolithic brand position and corporate identity at its meeting of 21 September 2017, as part of the implementation of the university's new strategy. Council also acknowledged that it is vital that the process towards the finalisation of the new brand positioning should include consultation with stakeholders and be concluded in time for implementation in 2018.

Resulting from this decision, three proposals were developed, and further engagement and consultation (including a survey) began with staff, current and prospective students, alumni and statutory bodies of the university. The University Management Committee (UMC), presented a comprehensive report to the Council's Ad Hoc Committee on Restructuring for a new primary colour that will better represent our unitary structure.

Council adopted the Ad Hoc Committee's recommendation to approve the proposal for a new brand positioning and corporate identity, with purple as the primary colour for the university. In approving the proposal, Council considered a range of issues including the results of the survey and the university's strategy. The university management will continue discussions with all stakeholders regarding the approved brand position and corporate identity to ensure buy-in and support for the new colour.

Council was also assured that funding for the implementation of the brand strategy and corporate identity is, for the bulk of the implementation, part of the marketing and communication budget. The new corporate identity will be implemented in a financially prudent way. All stakeholders can rest assured that the NWU remains a home to all who wish to study and work here, and to our many alumni whose support we continue to cherish.

Reaccreditation: North-West University (NWU) Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Programme

15 November 2017

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) has informed the North-West University that the accreditation outcome of the review of the LLB programme has been revised from ‘Notice of withdrawal of Accreditation’ to ‘Reaccreditation subject to meeting specified conditions.’

In reaction, the vice-chancellor of the NWU, Prof Dan Kgwadi, has expressed his satisfaction with this outcome. He also thanked all persons involved in the process, especially staff from the faculty of law.

“From the onset we had a dedicated team addressing the identified shortcomings. I am confident that the NWU will through addressing the issues as identified by the CHE, ensure that we deliver an even better LLB degree, not only to the benefit of our students, but also to that of the country.”

“Our position has always been that the strategy that we are now implementing is poised to address the concerns raised by the CHE - a strategy of positioning the NWU as a unitary institution of superior academic excellence, with a commitment to social justice.”

The CHE’s response was in reaction to the submission of an improvement plan and strategy on 6 October this year. This plan also included progress made since the review panel site visit in 2016.

During the Higher Education Quality Committee’s (HEQC) meeting on 9 November 2017, the university’s improvement plan together with other relevant documentation submitted, was reviewed. The HEQC was satisfied that the plan addressed the concerns expressed towards full accreditation, and some shortcomings within the capacity of the institution that can be remedied within a reasonable period were identified.

The HEQC requires the submission of a progress report by 30 October 2018, after which a follow-up site visit will be conducted on a date to be determined by the CHE and the institution.

The CHE states in its feedback that it is apparent from the evidence presented in the university improvement plan that most of the concerns which dealt mainly with the inequity between campuses, lack of substantive integration and low admission requirements coupled with inadequate student support, are already being addressed.

“The plan is detailed, and is supported by extensive evidence. There is also commitment to further investigate more avenues to address these concerns in the near future. It appears that the institution engaged with all the relevant stakeholders when dealing with these concerns and recommendations,” the CHE states.

The feedback further commends the efforts made by the faculty of law to hold key workshops, to review some of its law modules, to add other key modules as recommended by the HEQC, to consult its key stakeholders extensively across all campuses and to seek the necessary approval and commitment from the executive management.

The CHE also indicated that although the improvement plan commits to address issues of students and staff diversity and equity with targets and projections, the university is encouraged to explore further innovative equity strategies to fast-track attainment of the aspirations as reflected in the improvement plan.

“A detailed strategy with clear timeframes, allocation of responsibilities and resources will expedite implementation of the plan. This is however a long-term condition, as most of the impact of the interventions will only be felt in the medium to long-term period,” the CHE says.

New primary colour proposed for NWU 

6 September 2017

In view of the NWU Council’s approval of a unitary, faculty-driven model for the university, it was deemed prudent to revisit our current use of three corporate colours, representing each of the three campuses.

A thoroughly researched report was presented to the University Management Committee (UMC), who accepted a proposal to Council for a new primary colour that will better represent our unitary structure.

In terms of the proposal, our well-known and established NWU logo will not change. However, sports teams will no longer use maroon, blue or green, but one unitary colour. The same applies to marketing material where we need to employ one primary colour.

As new colours impact on various stakeholders, a process of further engagement and buy-in from stakeholders commenced after the UMC’s consideration of the matter. This included discussions with students and sports bodies. As part of this engagement, a limited number of examples in a proposed colour (deep purple) were developed to demonstrate the practical application.

A final decision on any colour change is, however, the prerogative of the NWU Council. A comprehensive roll-out plan has been developed to engage with stakeholders after a final decision by Council.

Two other issues came up in discussions, namely the use of the name Pukke and language. In the draft Brand Policy that will be presented to Council for approval, the university recognises that there are existing campus nicknames which were approved for use by Council. It is proposed that these nicknames will no longer be used in formal communication and branding, but no one will be prevented from using them informally.

Regarding language: our policy is one of multilingualism, which means that we encourage the use of English, Afrikaans and Setswana. This policy will be reflected in our marketing and communication.

Due to an oversight, various NWU Facebook platforms were merged prematurely last week and this will be rectified. Any changes in this regard will only be implemented after engagement with student leaders and as part of an approved roll-out of a new primary colour.

If approved by Council, the new primary colour will be implemented gradually and in a financially prudent way. Sports attire is, for example, sponsored by Varsity Sports and 2018 teams will be issued with new kit, as is the custom. Normal marketing material will be funded from current budgets. The only exceptions are the signage at campus entrance gates and some of the existing external brand signage that will be financed from strategic funds.

All stakeholders can rest assured that the NWU remains a home to all who wish to study and work here, and to our many alumni whose support we continue to cherish.

Yes, a new look is proposed, but our focus on excellence and our commitment to our values remain guiding principles.

Kind regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Student disciplinary matters

18 July 2017

Dear colleague

Over the past few years, the management of the NWU has focused on a strategy to transform and position the NWU as a unitary institution of superior academic excellence with a commitment to social justice. This culminated in major structural changes embodied in our new Statute, which we are in the process of implementing.

As chief student disciplinary officer of the NWU, I had the opportunity to consider a disciplinary matter which involved students of the university publishing comments on social media. Students on the Potchefstroom Campus were accused of publishing allegedly racist remarks in May 2017.

During a hearing on 30 May 2017, a student was found guilty and a sanction was handed down. He was suspended from the university for two years, but the sentence was suspended for the remainder of the duration of his studies. He also received the penalty of a fine of R 5 000. He was found guilty on two charges. The first charge was that his conduct was detrimental or could have been detrimental to the good name, order, discipline or performance of the university or any part of the university, and the second, a charge of making statements on social media amounting to discrimination in the form of racism.

A second student was charged with conduct allegedly being detrimental or which could have been detrimental to the good name, order, discipline or performance of the university or any part of the university, making statements on social media which allegedly amount to discrimination and/or hate speech, and also allegedly contravening the social media policy of the university. This student requested a postponement, and his case was scheduled for 18 July 2017.

The matter was put on hold today and the provisional suspension of the student in question was lifted, to allow the student to continue with classes.

After consulting the members of my senior management team who were available this afternoon, I have decided that the case against the second student should not proceed and should be withdrawn. This is so, because the evidence to be presented does not clearly justify the continuation of the matter.

My team and I are working hard to build a culture which is socially inclusive and cohesive, welcoming and embracing the diversity of our university community, mindful of our historical context. Incidents of this nature are against all of these and we must apologise to the staff and students of the NWU and, in fact, the public at large. It is clear that we need to do more in our mission of educating students to live and work in South Africa, in the spirit of our mission, our values and our country's constitution.

The university management condemns any act of racism or discrimination in the strongest possible terms. It is against the ethos and values of the NWU and contradicts our efforts to work towards social justice. We shall continue to work tirelessly to build a culture of which the university community and the rest of South Africa can be proud.

Kind regards

Prof Dan Kgwadi

Senior management appointments

23 June 2017

View the senior appointments that have been made by Council as part of the restructuring process to implement a new unitary model for the NWU here. These appointments, made by Council during its meeting of 22 June 2017, take effect from 1 July 2017.

Constitution of the SRC and the Campus Student Councils

22 June 2017

The Council has approved the Constitution of the SRC and the Campus Student Councils at its meeting on 22 June 2017. This marks a new era in the life of students at the NWU. Our strategy is aimed at creating a more unitary university across our various campuses where we celebrate the full range of our diversity and create on each of our campuses a socially inclusive environment which promotes student success and properly prepares students for the world of work.

In this interim phase of our development, we will utilise currently applicable electoral processes to elect an SRC in August 2017 and then align these by September 2017 for the future.

I encourage all students to participate in the electoral process and foster the culture of engagement, tolerance and debate which should characterise all our activities.

Yours sincerely

Prof Dan Kgwadi