Sharing his expectations for the two-day summit underway at the main the campus, Prof van Staden said the summit was going beyond mere sloganeering and was looking at how TUT could rightfully claim to be the people’s university. The time for playing has passed and transformation had to be addressed, he said.
TUT evolved from three apartheid-era technikons to a university of technology which presented challenges to none, with more than 60 000 students forging ahead to become a People’s University.
While a lot had been accomplished, there was still a lot that had to be achieved, and Prof van Staden appealed to all stakeholders to join him in saying “we can do more”.
He said in the struggle for liberation there was a concerted effort to establish a non-racial, non-sexist University society. “However, we underestimated the extent and deep-rootedness of racism, patriarchy and tribalism,” said Prof van Staden, adding the University was now compelled to respond to them in a new and transformed institutional culture.
He said transformation was not about accepting mediocrity or second class academic and research performance, or poor service delivery to students. The University had to constantly strive for the highest quality research and academic standards. “It is the difference between TUT being a good University and a great University,” said the Vice-Chancellor.
Since August last year TUT has been holding broad-based stakeholder conversations related to transformation. A 30-page draft transformation framework was distributed for discussion and comment by the University’s stakeholders last month and it should be approved by the University Council at its November meeting.
The draft framework sets out how transformation at TUT could be addressed in a holistic manner. It considers what ‘transformation’ means at the University, what a transformed TUT would look like and what areas that needed to be addressed to develop a shared framework, which is conceptually sound and intellectually robust.
Last year Prof van Staden together with the Executive Management Committee (EM) decided that in 2017 TUT would hold a Transformation Summit to open the conversation and start securing broad agreement across the University on transformation.
He said he hoped the Summit interactions would allow participants to express their opinions and respect the variety of views expressed.
Outgoing President of the Institutional SRC, Hendrick Kosamo Masundra, gave his support to the Summit and had the full support of the audience of more than 300 when he said: “When we reflect on transformation we must look at ourselves, change begins with us.”
He said while students wanted to gain knowledge, they wanted more from the University, they wanted to leave as future leaders.
Masundra said, in addition to changes in the curriculum there was also a need for social change and looking at the differing needs of students from various backgrounds.
Prof van Staden pointed out that universities were social systems and the human aspect of transformation had to be addressed. In addition to the need to decolonise the mind, Prof van Staden said there also needed to be a decolonising of hearts. “We must recover our solidarity and shared humanity with each other as we transform the University and our country.”
Conversation leaders invited to the Summit to share their thoughts on a range of topics included Dr Thandi Mgwebe, Prof Cain Soudien, Prof Ahmed Bawa, Enver Motala and Prof Sabela Ndlovu-Gatsheni. Legendary actor of the stage and small screen, Sello Maake ka-Ncube, was one of the conversation leaders who reflected on the human face of transformation.
After welcoming participants, Prof van Staden, himself a product of the former Technikon Pretoria whose career has mainly been spent on the institutions various campuses, said he would take his seat and listen intently to the conversations.
He said a Vice-Chancellor must be an intellectual, a thinker, a strategist, but most of all, must have a heart and passion for a university’s students, staff, community and country.
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