“2019, The year of service excellence and construction” says the UFH Vice Chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu
On the 11 February, the University of Fort Hare held its 2019 Official Academic Year Opening Ceremony. Each year, always, the ceremony is in two sessions. The morning session dedicated to the Alice Campus and the afternoon session to the East London Campus. The event provides the Vice-Chancellor an opportunity to welcome staff and students to the new academic year and to set the tone and priorities for the year. In his address, the Vice Chancellor paid tribute to colleagues who continue to excel for the University of Fort Hare in different disciplines ranging from Academia, Student Life, Research and Sports.
Amongst others, he mentioned Mr Nduduzo Makhathini, the Head of Music Department who constantly lifts the university flag high, through his Jazz Music prowess. Nationally and internationally, Mr Makhathini is a recipient of numerous awards. Amongst them is South African Music Awards – Best Jazz Album.
The Vice Chancellor also touched on recent achievements by academics such as Professor Chinyamurindi who was named the youngest and one of the best lecturers in the country in 2018. The VC also indicated that the University of Fort Hare will soon achieve one of its long term goals and become the second institution in the country to introduce the Veterinary Sciences Degrees. Professor Buhlungu further indicated with praise and excitement the continued support and goodwill we have received as the university from government. The number of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and government officials that constantly visit us, indicated this.
Getting down to the business of the day, Prof Buhlungu declared 2019 as the “year of building physical structures, we’ve got the money” he exclaimed. He indicated that the university was awarded a grant of R122m by the Department of Higher Education “The University is also in the process of finalising a loan with DBSA to top up the R122m in order to construct 1437 additional beds for the student village in Alice. This money would also ensure that on the Alice Campus, the construction of a new student centre is completed in the next two years.
To loud applause, he went further to indicate that the university received an additional grant of R265m for infrastructure development, which will help build a Student Centre in East London. The R265 million rands will also see the stalled Early Childhood Development Centre in East London completed. The rest of the money would ensure an improvement of the bulk infrastructure and electricity upgrade for the Alice Campus; ensure improved disability access in all three campuses for us to be fully compliant with Health and Safety Regulations. “Last year alone the Department of Higher Education gave us the total amount of R387million for infrastructure upgrades on all three university campuses” Prof Buhlungu alluded. This money has resulted in a comprehensive plan for deferred maintenance of the following areas: In East London - Lecture Halls, Gasson Centre Building, Nkuhlu Building and Main building. In Alice, the targeted areas would be Lecture Halls, the Clinic, Staff Centre, Equicent Building and general maintenance campus maintenance.
The Vice Chancellor ended on a note requesting staff, students and management to commit in making the year 2019 a year of positive action and positive results. “Do that one thing that will put Fort Hare in a good place” This, in his view, would allow us to be true to our motto, ‘together in excellence’.