UFH under new management

Read time: 3 mins

“The University of Fort Hare's senior management circle is now complete” All five executive management (MANCO) positions have now been filled. The university is now firmly positioned to stabilize the 103-year-old institution”. These are the reassuring words of our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu.

 Prof Buhlungu is referring to recent executive appointments which became effective between August and October 2019. Three substantive and experienced individuals have assumed the following roles:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs

(DVC-AA): Professor Renuka Vithal

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Support (DVC-IS): Professor Nokwethemba Ndlazi, and

Registrar: Mr Njabulo Zuma

These positions became vacant between 2017 and 2018. Professor John Hendricks was appointed Interim DVC-AA, Prof Lindelwa Majova Songca became Interim DVC-IS , while Professor Patrick Osode held the position of the Interim Registrar.

Professor Buhlungu said he was thrilled that the university now has the full complement of executive members.

It has always been a source of anxiety for me to have people acting in these positions. I always felt that we may have good people acting in these positions, who applied themselves and acquitted themselves excellently. However, it is not the same as having someone who has a substantive appointment”

Commenting on the appointment of the two women DVCs, Prof Buhlungu said: “We are very pleased with our two DVCs. Not only because they are women but because they come with massive experience gained over many years.”

Professor Vithal, an internationally recognized scholar in the social, cultural and political dimensions of mathematics education, commenced duties on 1st August and Professor Nokwethemba Ndlazi, a highly accomplished scholar and executive manager in higher education, started on 1st September.

A few months into their appointments, the university is already feeling the energy brought by the two DVCs. “We have been receiving positive feedback on their appointment and their vision for this university,” said Prof Buhlungu.

The circle of top managers completed at the beginning of October with the appointment of the Registrar, Mr Njabulo Zuma who joins the university from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) where he served as Director of Governance and Administration in the Office of the Registrar since 2013. Previously he was Assistant Registrar at the same university.

“We now have a complete circle, the VC, the two DVCs the Registrar and the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) are in place. And the message we want to send out is that the university is under new management. It cannot be business as usual.”

“We are going to be very sympathetic and very supportive of people. At the same time, we are going to be very firm to ensure people do their job.  And when they do their job, we will provide the necessary support”, said the VC.

These appointments happen in the midst of very exciting developments in the university, including the launch of the Student Village Infrastructure Development in Alice which is set to provide 2047 beds to students when it is completed in 2020.

The university also recently approved a Gender-Based Violence policy to ensure GBV-free campuses that are safe for all.

“We are shifting from being a university driven by protest, disruption, and instability to being a university that is stable,” said Prof Buhlungu.

The future

The next step in the process is to fill the next tier of senior positions that have become vacant. “I must say, every time we advertise a post we attract people from across the spectrum, from top universities in the country and in the world. That says we are still in the game”.