VC’s 2018 year end message

Good day everyone and welcome to the MUT year-end function. The end of a year is a good time to look back, reflect on achievements, and to look forward and see what we still need to accomplish.

It is good to see so many of you here to celebrate our year-end function. It is a pleasure to be able to tell you, once again, how much I appreciate all the good work you have done and continue to do for MUT. I know that you often put in a long day and wonder if anyone has really noticed. I want to reassure you that we do notice, we do appreciate what you do, we do value it, and we are grateful that many of you are here at MUT for more than just a job but to create a bright future for our institution.

So thank you for your dedication, your imagination, and for delivering yet another very good year.

I congratulate all the staff that improved their qualifications this year. It was a long journey for some of you. Well done, you deserve it. I also thank and welcome new staff that joined us this year. I want to express my sincere condolences to families and friends of colleagues we lost, as well as my deepest sympathies to all our colleagues that lost any loved ones during the course of the year.

Our engagements during the course of the year on the Strategy 2020-2025 have strengthened our identity as a united MUT community and provided us with an opportunity to envision a shared future that we are co-creating together. Our Strategy Statement captures our intention – which is to ensure that the University, its staff, students and stakeholders are empowered to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and protected from its long-term adverse effects of exclusion and disadvantage. I thank you for your support and courage on this difficult and arduous task.

Among our successes this year, is an emerging optimistic climate and culture within the University. There are still divisions and tensions from the past. But I am happy to inform you that they are diminishing and are being replaced by a sense of unity and tolerance of our differences. Generally, there is an emerging atmosphere of caring, giving and loving and supporting one another as we create an MUT that we can all be proud of. I am beginning to hear people say things like: “life is short, you must enjoy it”; “we must not live in the past but we must live each day of our lives as if it is our last’’; and “we must not hold any grudges, as that robs us of our true humanity”. Most significantly, there is less gossiping about people, character assassinations and rumour-mongering. I am glad that we are channelling all our energies to the good of us all. Our people are indeed our assets.

We have continued during 2018 to strengthen the academic mission of our institution. The review of our academic programmes is ongoing to ensure better alignment with the National Qualification Framework and increased prospects for the employability of our graduates. We have begun to reconceptualise student entrepreneurship around the core pillars of our mission: teaching and learning, research and community engagement. There has been little disturbance of the academic project and no disruption in the provision of support services.

We have, unfortunately, hit some rough patches in 2018. The Report of the Independent Assessors highlights some of the persisting problems in the state of governance within our University. The Report also provides us with a foundation to break with the past and begin to envision a healthy future for MUT.  We also continue to have a large number of legal cases and labour disputes. It is worrying to see the readiness of senior academics and management to take matters to the CCMA without exhausting internal university processes. This costs both the university and the staff concerned a lot in terms of time, energy and money, all of which could be better spent advancing our University. I appeal that we do things differently in 2019 in order to uphold our dignity and integrity, and protect the image of the University.

There are many opportunities likely to arise in 2019. I know that collectively we will rise to the challenge. We can look ahead into the new year with confidence, hope and resilience. We know that there are vast problems ahead: such as uncertainties around the governing Council, and challenges in student funding and housing . But we also know that we have the right resources to meet those challenges.

Please remember that during the holiday season, family and friends come first. Let us reflect on this good fortune and enjoy the holidays without thinking too much about work.

Finally, I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Thank you again for your valuable contributions to the success of the University.

Dr E Duma Malaza