New university boss swaps coast for lowveld
Professor Thokozile Mayekiso will miss the sea.
The 58-year-old is preparing to swap a 17thfloor office at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) for the vicechancellor and principal’s office at the brandnew University of Mpumalanga.
Mayekiso starts her new job on November 1 and was in the lowveld last week to explore the university’s three campuses.
During a three-day visit to the campus, she chatted to students and lecturers, and got a feel for the institution – and the scenery.
“I’m excited about the Mpumalanga landscape. I like the fact that it’s green and close to nature ... but I’ll miss the ocean,” says the mother of two adult children.
She admits she’s still finding her bearings, referring some questions to the university’s head of academics, Professor Ramaranka Mogotlane.
But in her quiet, calm way, she is ready.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to start something from scratch and to use my experience from the University of Transkei [now Walter Sisulu University], Wits and NMMU. These are different types of institutions – and the University of Mpumalanga is also unique.”
Mayekiso’s curriculum vitae is a copious 28 pages – evidence of the long road she has travelled in academia, here and in the UK and Germany.
Psychology is her discipline and she’s lectured, supervised and been published extensively. Her first order of business involves some organisational psychology: Mayekiso and her team need to employ a strong management team to formulate the university’s policies. Mayekiso’s deputies are professors Ric Bernard and Rachmond Howard. The university’s registrar is Sello Legodi.
Currently, the institution has 40 students studying for a Bachelor of Agriculture and 60 for an agricultural diploma, 20 students at the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust and 108 preparing for the Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase Teaching) at the former KwaNdebele College
Professor Thokozile Mayekiso of Education.
The team is also thinking about what programmes to offer from next year and in 2016.
One on the radar for 2015 is an information technology diploma, says Mogotlane.
They’re also eyeing the Mpumalanga College of Nursing in KaBokweni – they’d like to absorb it into the university’s health science faculty in the future.
Mayekiso is happy to start slowly. “We want to produce quality students and get positive feedback from employers. The process for having programmes approved takes 18 months.
“Our next programmes should be in engineering, health sciences and human sciences,” she says.
The programmes will increase as the campuses expand, and it’s expected there will be between 18 000 and 20 000 students enrolled at the university by 2025 for certificate, diploma and degree programmes.
“We see this as a national institution with a role to play on the African continent and the Mpumalanga community. And when we offer all programmes, we’ll enrol students from all over Africa and overseas,” she says.
For now, she’s back in Port Elizabeth for one more month, drinking in the sea view.