“I want to say thank you to a whole lot of people, especially for the wonderful experience that I have had and shared at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) over the years,” these were the words echoed by Professor Nomthandazo Gwele during her farewell dinner honouring the retiring Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC): Teaching and Learning, which was held on 21 November 2019, at the DUT Hotel School.
DUT colleagues and family members bid adieu to the University’s DVC: Teaching and Learning, Prof Gwele, who has retired from DUT and who now plans to spend her time relaxing with her family, especially her granddaughter.
Professor Gwele has been the DVC at DUT since 2010. She was previously Executive Dean of the Health Sciences Faculty at DUT. Prior to that, Prof Gwele was Professor and Head of School of nursing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Her career highlights include being a research assistant at the University of Missouri, which afforded her an opportunity to observe and work with top academics in action.
Professor Gwele obtained her professional education and training as a nurse. She graduated from the Frere College of nursing with a diploma in nursing, followed by a B. Cur. in Nursing from UNISA. In addition to a Social Sciences PhD from the University of Natal, Professor Gwele also has two Masters degrees, one in Education and another (MSc) in Nursing-both from the University of Columbia, Missouri, USA.
Her jovial character is one of the exceptional qualities which her DUT colleagues have indicated is what had made her so magnetic.
Professor Sibusiso Moyo-DVC Of Research, Innovation and Engagement, spoke on behalf of the vice-chancellor and principal Professor Thandwa Mthembu, who had sent his apologies as he was unable to attend the function due to unforeseen circumstances.
She added that her friendship with Prof Gwele spanned for many years and that she had been a wonderful role model to staff and students alike. “Prof Gwele has been a good mentor to many people. From my side, being a DVC, it’s a very lonely space, especially for females, so for me it’s a big loss but it is also good to know she is not going far,” she said.
Also giving a speech at the dinner was Professor Theo Andrew and Executive Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences at DUT, Professor Nokuthula Sibiya, who also spoke of Prof Gwele’s immense leadership skills during her time at DUT. “It was indeed a blessing to have you as a colleague, sister boss, a mother and at times, a gogo. Most of all, we will miss your sense of humour. We will miss your wisdom and experience, but most of all, we will miss the encouragement you have been to us,” said Prof Sibiya.
Mr Alan Khan, Senior Director: Corporate Affairs and Programme Director for the evening, added that Prof Gwele would be sorely missed. “We hope that you enjoy your retirement and we also hope that you won’t be a stranger to us at our university because this is always going to be your university,” he stressed.
Prof Gwele further spoke fondly of her time and of her passion of being a DVC at DUT, adding that the highlight of her career was coming to DUT which had allowed her the privilege of growing from a manager and DVC, giving her so many opportunities to follow in the health sector. “I am very grateful to all my colleagues, even those who are not with DUT, who have made a big impact and have been a great influence in my life,” she said.
She also thanked her family, especially her son for making all the sacrifices in order for her to achieve her academic studies.
The dinner concluded with a toast by the Registrar Dr Thiru Pillay, who wished her a happy retirement and all the best in her future endeavours.
Professor Gwele chairs and serves on various academic committees. Her external engagements in the last five years includes HPCSA (USAf Nominee). Teaching and Learning Strategy Group (USAf), Academy of nursing of South Africa (ANSA). Advisory Group (Office of the Chief Nursing Officer: National Department of Health).
She has a string of publications, research grant experiences, scholarships and prizes to her name. She has successfully supervised 23 Masters and six PhD degrees, and is currently leading the Curriculum Renewal and Siyaphumelela projects at DUT.
Pictured: Professor Nomthandazo Gwele