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Durban University of Technology (DUT) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu recorded a video message unpacking the Systems and Processes perspective which he identified as the heartbeat of DUT, on Monday, 19 October 2020.

Prof Mthembu focused on the second of the four Perspectives from DUT’s Envision 2030, aiming at Improving Lives and Livelihoods. The four Perspectives are: Stewardship (which Prof Mthembu recently delivered a video message on), Systems and Processes, Sustainability and Society.

He said that beyond people, Systems and Processes are the heartbeat of every organization.

“Birthed out of creativity and innovation, Systems and Processes help to assure individual and institutional responsibility and accountability. They help us to manage our scant resources; develop and nurture our people; improve the rigor of what works; detect and discern risks. On the basis of what they churn out, we are able to implement corrective action aimed at safeguarding the achievement of our strategic objectives,” said Prof Mthembu.

According to Prof Mthembu it is through Systems and Processes that the entire university is able to function like the DUT rocket that it is.

He expressed that it is important that the DUT community understand the concept of Systems and Processes broadly in terms of the University’s total functionality.

“For instance, the entire journey of students from applications, to admissions and on to graduation; from staff recruitment, to on-boarding, to development and to off-boarding; resource management; rules of engagement between and among various university stakeholders and structures. Envision 2030 identifies three Strategic Objectives under the Systems and Processes Perspective, namely, Innovative Curricula and Research, the Digital Environment and the State-of-the-art Infrastructure. Together with the Stewardship Perspective, Systems and Processes are our ‘effecting and enabling’ perspectives upon which rests our collective capacity to achieve our ultimate goal of improving the lives and livelihoods of our people and our broader society,” he explained.

Furthermore, Prof Mthembu said the strategic objective: Innovative Curricula and Research, is about designing and implementing curricula that stimulate imagination, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship instead of encouraging same old learning that turns people into mere resources.

He said the world regularly faces new problems that require approaches that are novel and generate lasting solutions.

“To this end, we have committed ourselves to working closely with business/industry, government and its agencies, and organs of civil society so that we design and offer well-informed curricula that will ensure that our graduates are not only adaptive, but they also become active change agents in their respective communities, and in organisations they join when they leave our system. We are still celebrating our recent achievement of being ranked in the top five of universities in South Africa, and being top 10 in the world on citations of our research. We seek to lead when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, as we have already started to do,” he said.

He added that the Digital Environment speaks to DUT’s entire business model with concepts such as efficacy, efficiency and economic ways of doing business. Due to COVID-19, Prof Mthembu said many organisations have had to urgently consider digital ways of running their operations, so as DUT which has both teaching, learning and support activities mostly happening through online platforms. He said DUT will continue to move with speed to allocate resources towards ensuring that the Digital Environment takes root while also fully equipping its people to learn and work in this environment.

Prof Mthembu said the last objective under this Perspective is State-of-the-art infrastructure.

“By now, most of you would be aware that, in addition to DHET’s allocations for infrastructure and buildings that are in construction as I speak, Council approved more infrastructure development sometime last year as part of our Spatial Development Plan. With this plan, we will construct new buildings and aggressively maintain the existing ones to ensure that our people have creative spaces to work, to think, to collaborate and even when they are not working but just unwinding at our campuses. These spaces must provide easy and reliable access to factors of production such as Wifi in this digital domain,” expressed Prof Mthembu.

In closing, Prof Mthembu said that a few months after his arrival, he promised that DUT was going to get a facelift with a few sacrifices from the DUT community. He emphasized that the end of a shabby looking DUT is already in sight.

Pictured: DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Thandwa Mthembu

Simangele Zuma

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