The Durban University of Technology (DUT) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu extended a warm welcome to all first-year students who are now part of the DUT community. He officially welcomed the Durban based students at the Curries Fountain Sports Ground on Tuesday, 06 February 2024 and the Midlands students at the Indumiso campus Sport Centre on Wednesday, 07 February 2024.
Prof Mthembu’s welcome address marked the opening of the ADAPT@DUT First-Year Students Orientation Week. He began by welcoming all the first-year students who have come to join DUT and be part of this great university.
Prof Mthembu told the students that there were two things that he hoped would happen by the end of their studies, which was ability and character.
“Ability takes you to the top but to remain at the top you need character. Haven’t we seen many highly educated people who have the ability, who have the capacity, the skills, go to waste? There are so many who are highly qualified but are roaming the streets because they lack character, they speak good English and got all the qualifications but forgot to build the right kind of character after they have reached the top of their careers to remain at the top,” said Prof Mthembu.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal said building character will assist the students in becoming people that have deeper values and principles in all that they do. He further urged them to allow DUT to mould their character because if they come out raw and having adopted all sort of bad behaviours at the end of their studies, that will affect their character.
“Here at DUT we have our own values and principles. Our values are Transparency, Honesty, Integrity, Respect and Accountability. These are no different from the good values you learnt from home and school. We hope that as you become part of this community you will exude these values in all that you do,” reiterated Prof Mthembu.
He explained to the students that any university you will find in the world is about critical thinking, is about reimagining what you know, how you extend and innovate that knowledge.
“The era of learning and being a repository of the knowledge imparted in you has ended. Here it’s no longer about learning, it’s about what you do with what you have learnt. How you use your critical thinking skills, how you use your creativity, how you then innovate with what you have learnt. So if you have come here thinking you are going to regurgitate what you have learnt, and get the best marks, no, this is no longer school. Be creative, be innovative with what you have learnt over the last 12 years,” shared Prof Mthembu.
As much as the students have come for a particular qualification, Prof Mthembu advised them that they must be adaptive to the changes of the world. He indicated that to be adaptive requires them to seek creativity and innovation so that when things change in the broader society, they are able to change too.
“Through creativity and innovation, you must be able to use that to continue to make a contribution and to continue to be a productive citizen in this country. If you hold on to this, I can assure you that South Africa will be different in a few years’ time. Our future belongs to you and we can only look back to this day when you committed to changing the lives and livelihoods of ourselves and society,” said Prof Mthembu.
He warned students against becoming unruly. He urged them to remember that they joined DUT to build their characters and not to destroy infrastructure. He encouraged the students to be the group of young people who will change the culture of destroying infrastructure, and strive to create a DUT legacy and beyond.
Also extending a warm welcome to the students was the Dean of Students, Dr Clement Moreku who assured the students that DUT has a set of initiatives aimed at cumulatively growing them to become adaptive graduates. The Student Representative Council President, Mr Solomzi Zoleka introduced the SRC members and encouraged the students to make the most of this opportunity given to them.
Delivering the closing remarks was the DUT Registrar, Dr Maditsane Nkonoane thanked Prof Mthembu for sharing pearls of wisdom with the first year students. He thanked the parents of the first year students for trusting DUT with the stewardship of their “bundles of joy”. He assured the parents that the people that DUT will usher back to them in three to four years’ time will be a different breed. Dr Nkonoane thanked the first year students for choosing this great university as their intellectual home, saying this is one decision they will never regret in their pursuit to achieve greatness.
Pictured: DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu welcoming first-year students.
Photography: Khulsande Tshayile.