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The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) Professor Thandwa Mthembu, recently shared the exciting news in the DUT Iminingo communiqué, of the appointment of the Interim Campus Director of the Midlands Campuses, Professor Mashupye Kgaphola.

Prof Mthembu said that Prof Kgaphola was no stranger to the higher education sector, having occupied several prominent and senior and executive roles over the years.

 The charismatic Prof Kgaphola gave insight into his journey in academia, explaining that he has been involved with higher education for many years.

“I have in that time gained experience as a leader, administrator and strategist. I have served in and serviced a number of local and international organisations including public and private universities, as well as orgnisations involved in research promotion and development policy, etc,” he said.

Notably, he has previously held positions of Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Director of Academic Development, Senior Policy Analyst and Manager, to name a few.

Prof Kgaphola  indicated that he is a scientist by training, and holds a BSc (Hons) and PhD in Bio-Organic Chemistry from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

“I count amongst my most notable professional achievements the successful registration of a patent in chemistry, from my postdoctoral research work undertaken at North Dakota State University (USA). I have also undergone professional training at various local and regional institutions in higher education leadership, management of science and technology strategy, social policy, among many others, he added proudly.

 He further shared his thoughts on being appointed as the Interim Director of the Midlands Centre, for a duration of 12 months.

“I feel privileged to be part of the unfolding story of a reborn DUT and hope to make my modest contribution to its accelerated growth,” he said proudly.

Prof Kgaphola elaborated as to how his new role will help to further nurture and enhance the Pietermaritzburg campuses on a local and international platform.

“My starting point is to note that the Midlands campuses are an integral part of the greater DUT. Hence, I see my high-level strategic role as being to ensure that, within my sphere of authority, Midlands moves in synch with the rest of DUT campuses and the corporate body at all times, in the pursuit of the university’s strategic intent. In turn, I will have to ensure that the rest of DUT is ever alive to the fact that our optimal contribution to the strategy as the Midlands will continue to depend also on a reciprocal and intentional stance to reach out to and embrace us in a proactive manner, such that any perceived divide or ambivalence in (mutual) identities is dispelled,” he replied.

He further explained that the local, regional, and international standing of the Midlands campuses will ultimately be a product of both local (Midlands) initiatives and posture on the one hand, and the overall profile of the corporate DUT on the other.

“I see my role as being to lead, manage and support our local initiatives in pursuance of the corporate strategic focus and priorities. To this end, I shall tap into the institutional memory of colleagues, rally their individual and collective energies, mobilise our students towards focusing on our strategic success factors, and to bring on board various stakeholders for our mutual benefit as a community,” commented Prof Kgaphola.

For Prof Kgaphola, his passion for education started peaking since his school days. “Looking back, I was mostly inclined towards the education programmes of the organisations that I had joined and led during my days as a student activist in the era of the anti-apartheid struggle. Professionally, and as I have already hinted earlier, I have been involved with higher education or related knowledge and development institutions since the dawn of democracy in our country,” he replied.

Prof Kgaphola relayed how DUT’s ENVISION2030 intertwines with his new role.

“ENVISION2030 is ultimately the touchstone of our contribution to the well-being and future of the university, including its lofty goals of impacting society through the people (graduates) it produces, the people who produce (through research), and the thoughts, products, and pathways it produces (innovations, entrepreneurship, etc.). I believe that we shall explore realistic approaches to enable us to reach to our communities and make contributions within our means and realistic time frames. The secret, as in most things, will be to make a start,” he expressed.

In terms of the challenges Prof Kgaphola aims to conquer in his new role, he added that the best for him will be to experience the DUT landscape against the broader ideas that he has already outlined.

“My favourite question as I engage colleagues and students alike on the call to animate the dream and the challenge of ENVISION2030 is the following, ‘Who is the University?’ It is my belief that when we ask ourselves this same question, we are more likely to clarify our understanding of where we fit in the bigger scheme of institutional strategy and the pursuit of our statement of intent,” he commented.

Prof Kgaphola also shared his accolades he has achieved in his academic career to date.

They are:

  • A Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Contribution to Education, by the World Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors Congress, held in Mumbai (India), June 2014.
  • The CEO Golden Team Prize by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in 2007, for providing leadership to a multi-institutional and multinational project team that successfully mobilised key stakeholders across the African continent for participation in Knowledge Management Africa 2007, in Nairobi (Kenya).
  • Published a ground-breaking monograph proposing the introduction of a standard four-year undergraduate qualification in South Africa (FRD, 1999), titled, “Reconstructing higher education in South Africa: a case for a development-oriented curriculum structure” (Foundation for Research Development, 1999).

Going forward, he aims to make the best contribution possible towards the transformation agenda of DUT, and in the process touch some lives for the better.

“I should further come out of my current assignment a better informed and attuned person,” he said.

Prof Mthembu further commented in the DUT Iminingo that with his rich leadership and managerial experience, he was confident that he would help in the commitment to build a DUT that is Upended from this year onwards.

Pictured: Interim Campus Director of the Midlands Campuses, Professor Mashupye Kgaphola.

Waheeda Peters

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