Humanities celebrate academic staff’s excellence 

by Lerato Motsisi

9 November 2022

Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher who invented the field of formal logic, once said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Ms Sholain Govender-Bateman, Lecturer of the year with Prof Maserumule, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Dr Lizette Odendaal, Head of the Department of Journalism.

October 2022 saw the Faculty of Humanities recognising this habit of excellence among its staff during the Faculty’s annual Academic Excellence Awards. Academic staff were recognised for outstanding contributions to teaching and research in the Faculty in 2021.

In his opening, Prof Mashupye H Maserumule, Executive Dean of the Faculty,  said: “We are here to thank you for our Faculty’s success, your contribution in creating knowledge through research and using teaching to disseminate such knowledge, even despite the COVID-19 challenged we faced during the past two years.”

Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, an excellent researcher in his own right, applauded Faculty leadership on its 2021 successes, followed by an address to Faculty staff during which he spoke about what makes one excellent. He supported his views by sharing quality examples like the great writer and poet, Charles William Dumbudzo Marechera. “I mention this great Zimbabwean writer, because he is one of those people I consider to exemplify excellence within the broad field of Humanities,” said Prof Maluleke. 

Other examples of excellence he included are Canadian researcher and writer, Malcolm Gladwell and late musician, John Lennon. 

He concluded by encouraging academic staff members to: “Seek the kingdom of the PhD and then professorships because otherwise, academia would be the wrong place to be.”

Following the presentation of trophies and certificate to the winners listed below, Prof Maserumule acknowledged 39 academic staff members who contributed to the Faculty’s research outputs in 2021. 

Academic staff who received awards:

  • Mr Given Selowa: Runner-up Lecturer of the year
  • Ms Sholain Govender-Bateman: Lecturer of the year
  • Dr Dee Khosa: Emerging Woman Researcher of the year
  • Dr Daniel Nkosinathi Mlambo: Emerging Researcher of the year
  • Dr Dee Khosa: Runner-up Woman Researcher of the year
  • Prof Ricky Munyaradzi Mukonza: Runner-up Researcher of the year
  • Prof Lydia Kgomotso Mphahlele: Woman Researcher of the year
  • Dr Khashane Stephen Malatji: Researcher of the year
  • Dr Thulani Andrew Chauke: Post-Doctoral Research Fellow of the year

The winner in the Lecturer of the Year category, Sholain Govender-Bateman from the Department of Journalism, is emphatic that that preparing students for the future and the world of work, is the driving force behind her teaching and research. These include aspects such as teaching methods and incorporating technology in their teaching, student evaluation feedback, study guides and participation in other activities in the Department. 

Sholain, who joined TUT in 2010, teaches news reporting in print and social media to first- and second-year Journalism students. She actively uses the myTUTor BrightSpace platform in teaching her students, but her use of technology does not end with students. Sholain was leading the adoption and implementation of BrightSpace among her peers in the Journalism Department. Under her leadership, the Department of Journalism is currently at the forefront of incorporating technology in teaching in the Faculty of Humanities. 

Sholain is a versatile, compassionate and fair lecturer who responds very well to change. As experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, many students could not submit assignments on time or attend classes as scheduled. Sholain explained that she gave fair opportunities to students to request and complete missed assessments based on individual circumstances. Her teaching philosophy is simply that students should be treated as adults and viewed as future leaders in their chosen career fields.

“I believe this helps to maintain a high pass rate, whilst ensuring the quality of content and assessments remained on par with university standards,” said Sholain. 

Her students also experience her as a fair lecturer who has their best interests at heart. “Mrs Sholain is overall fair and professional in her work. She is really concerned when students are not doing well and often extends her efforts to assist them,” one of her students said.

Prof Thelma De Jager presenting Research of the Year Dr Malatji with his award.

The criteria for choosing the winning researchers is more straightforward, based on their research outputs, supervision of students who have graduated and conference attendance. Researcher of the Year 2021, Dr Khashane Stephen Malatji, achieved the most research outputs, based on the criteria set by the Faculty. His constant collaborating and publishing with his students saw him contributing 5.15 units in terms of research outputs.

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