The Durban University of Technology (DUT) recently hosted the DUT Virtual Council Awards together with the Research and Innovation Awards to honour students and staff for making the Envision 2030 a reality.
Gracing this prestigious ceremony were two guest speakers namely Professor Jako Olivier and Professor Rubin Pillay. Prof Olivier is a UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Education Resources. He is a Professor in Multimodal Learning: Research Unit Self-Directed Learning, Faculty of Education, North-West University. Meanwhile Prof Pillay is a Professor of Medicine and Professor of Business. He is the Assistant Dean in the School of Medicine; Chief Innovation Officer, UAB Health System University of Alabama at Birmingham (USA); Editor in Chief, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Health.
Delivering the keynote address, DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu said the DUT Council awards were conceptualised in 2015 at the start of our Strategic Plan 2015-2019: Towards Relevance, Responsiveness and Resilience in a quest to create awareness and embed DUT’s strategic objectives and through them drive the mission of the University forward.
“The strategic plan at that time had a 2-4-6 structure, namely: 2 DNA strands, 4 strategic focus areas (SFAs) and 6 drivers, and awards were categorised as follows: Those that focus on our DNA strands were named the Chancellor’s Awards. Those that focus on the SFAs were named Council Awards (SFAs) and those that focus on the drivers were named Vice-Chancellor’s Awards,” said Prof Mthembu.
He said awardees were expected to showcase their exceptional contributions and initiatives, share their creativity and successes therefrom, and to demonstrate how these propel DUT to greatness.
“With the refinement of our Strategic Plan 2.0 in 2017, criteria for the awards were expanded to include the impact of the project – to whom and how evident that impact is. This was an important change, signalling the intent for all our work at the University that is to be recognised in any way, to show evidence of impact in the broader society we serve. This was an important precursor to our new impact-oriented strategy, Envision 2030. Nine projects were awarded under this broad rubric of awards,” explained Prof Mthembu.
Speaking about the Research and Innovation Awards, Prof Mthembu said despite the COVID-19 breakout, its impact and the many lives that have been lost in the country and globally, the year 2020 marks a very special year for DUT for a number of reasons.
“In the context of our Research and Innovation Awards, it is the year that DUT, being a very young University of Technology within South Africa and the continent, got ranked in the coveted Top 10 globally for Citation impact; ranking it first on this indicator alone amongst all South African and African Universities. Here we are: a young university, never designed to be research intensive and hardly known globally, punching above our weight and making a global impact that is still elusive for many others many years older and differentiated as research-intensive,” said Prof Mthembu.
Furthermore, Prof Mthembu stated the excellent outcome in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 helps DUT to accelerate its rocket-flight to 2030.
The awards were handed out for 28 categories including a new category on Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) awards (2015-2019) and the Top 10 High Impact Authors for the period (2017-2019) to celebrate the DUT NRF Rankings 2021.
“Without the sterling contributions of our Researchers and Innovators, we would be nowhere. We, thus, appreciate very highly their commitment and their excellence and, generally, how they continue to demonstrate how our values and principles should be lived and some aspects of The DUT Way. To all the winners, you are our lodestars, you are our leaders. You have demonstrated beyond doubt that Envision 2030 is not a dream; but a reality. I wish you a great future at DUT as we build a new legacy for generations to come to benefit from,” concluded Prof Mthembu.
In recognition of Innovative Excellence in the category of Engagement the recipients were:
- Lalela Ulwandle Project by Dr Kira Erwin and Dr Tamlynn Fleetwood. It is a university project in teaching, research or public engagement that has made an outstanding positive contribution to the institution’s local community.
- Indigenous Knowledge EDU-EXPO 2019 Project. By Ms Thulile Ndlovu and Ecotourism 3rd Year Students of 2019. Awarded to an outstanding partnership with business, industry, NGO or government in the fields of teaching, research or enterprise, with lasting impact for students, staff, and/or society.
- SAQA DUT Articulation Research Partnership Project by Professor Darren Lortan, Dr Savathie Maistry and Ms Kristena Doorosamy. Awarded to an outstanding partnership with business, industry, NGO or government in the fields of teaching, research or enterprise, with lasting impact for students, staff, and/or society.
In recognition of Innovative Excellence in the category of Student Centerdness:
- Student Bursaries Project by Ms Ugeshni Moodley. It is an innovative project or initiative that has positively enhanced the student living and/or learning experience – academically, socially and/or in the context of student welfare and wellbeing.
In Recognition of Innovative Excellence in the Category of Building Sustainable Student Communities of Living and Learning:
- Coil: Food and Nutrition Project by Dr Ashika Naicker, Ms Evonne Singh, Ms Lisebo Mothepu. It is a programme providing an outstanding online or distance course, with high quality teaching, student experience and support.
In Recognition of Innovative Excellence in the Category of Building a Learning Organisation:
- DUT Data Day Project by Dr Kudayja Parker; Mr Ashton Maherry; Ms Nicky Muller; Mr Sagren Moodley; Mr Sean Carte; Dr Progress Mtshali; Mr Ashendran Naicker; Ms Shamila Ishwarkumar; Mr Mandla Lukubeni; Mr Rajan Naicker and Ms Prabashnee Kisten.
- Promoting the Scholarship of Learning Project by Ms Nalini Chitanand and Ms Shoba Rathilal. Awarded to a staff development initiative that contributes to building a culture of innovation and responsiveness.
In Recognition of Innovative Excellence in the Category of Networking the University:
- Coil Project by Dr Lavern Samuels; Ms Lesley Ann Cooke and Ms Penny Orton. Awarded to a project or initiative innovatively using technology with student experience and support at its very heart.
In Recognition of Innovative Excellence in the Category of Greening the University:
- Steve Biko Library Rooftop Project by Professor Ian Lazarus; Mr Eugene Zeelie and Mr Devesh Bansiparsadh. Awarded to an outstanding project or initiative that creates and champions a more sustainable living and working environment in the university and beyond.
Pictured: DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu thanks DUT staff and students for making Envision 2030 a reality.