Newly installed UKZN Chancellor, Dr Reuel Khoza, presided over this year’s first Graduation ceremony on Wednesday, an occasion which also marked the return of in-person graduation ceremonies at UKZN. The return to in-person graduation ceremonies comes after a two-year hiatus as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the University to hold virtual ceremonies in 2020 and 2021.
Earlier on the day, Dr Khoza was officially installed as the University’s fourth Chancellor during a ceremony also held on the Westville campus.
Dr Khoza is a distinguished thought leader, captain of industry and change agent at the forefront of transformation.
Delivering his keynote address, Khoza expressed gratitude to UKZN for deeming it fit to appoint him as Chancellor, saying he considers the invitation an honour and privilege. ‘I accept this privilege to serve at a painful conjuncture in the history of our nation. The pain is occasioned by a variety of malpractices and manifest malfeasance inter alia. As we look around what do we see?’ he asked as he turned his focus on “a once promising state, now a manifest prebendalism gravitating towards a kleptocracy”, corrupt politicians, poor leadership, state capture, debilitating unemployment, and moral decadence characterised by crime against women and children, to name but a few.
‘Our (UKZN) institutional leadership must be imbued with a compelling vision well-articulated and pursued in exemplary manner. Our administration should have clear policies, be strict in their application particularly where budgetary and financial matters are concerned. Our academic staff must perforce be dedicated to a culture of diligence and excellence – unrelenting in its pursuit. Our students must deeply appreciate that appropriate education is the key to addressing their own personal challenges, those of the country, the region and the continent.
‘Our research and development – be it in infrastructure, tropical diseases, healthcare, law, science and technology, commerce and the social sciences – must doggedly chase innovation having regard to its practical relevance. Unless the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Council and Senate as administrative and academic governance bodies insist without compromise on the strict adherence to policies, diligent and dedicated pursuit of world-class academic and research standards, our noble quest to serve our beloved country will be an illusion turned existential nightmare for this and future generations; nationally and continentally, a consequence we dare not contemplate. We live in a democracy in which academic excellence could very well thrive,’ he said before calling on the University’s students, lecturers, and body of academia to be ‘audacious, diligent, dogged and daring’ in their pursuit of excellence.
‘As your Chancellor, I pledge to do the same as and when duty calls,’ he said.
UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku thanked Khoza for the enthusiasm with which he embraced the invitation to become Chancellor, saying the University views Chancellorship (of UKZN) as ‘a special honour, granted to an individual who is not only highly accomplished, but whose life and work express our most deeply held values and aspirations.
‘Dr Khoza has generously agreed to link his well-earned prestige to UKZN at this critical moment in our history. In such a wide-ranging and successful career, perhaps his most outstanding quality has been his willingness to lead – both formally (for example, by his Presidency of the Institute of Directors) and less formally – but still very powerfully by inspiring others. Who better than someone widely acclaimed as a ‘Thought Leader’ to be a university Chancellor? I am certain that you will feel as I do that in joining us in what began and remains a visionary enterprise, UKZN has been blessed with precisely the ideal Chancellor. Dr Khoza, please consider us inspired; and on behalf of the entire University community, I wish you a very warm welcome and successful tenure as Chancellor of UKZN!’ said Poku.
Mr Malusi Zuma, UKZN SRC President, said the new Chancellor has the SRC’s full support as the student body believes that ‘having him in this role augurs well for the University. ‘We believe the inauguration of Dr Khoza as Chancellor reinforces the integrity of the Institution and enhances its image. Chancellor, we wish you well in your new role and we are certain that you will execute your duties with aplomb as you have done in all the other leadership roles you have and continue to occupy. Your passion for education and all your achievements will no doubt inspire and cultivate the next crop of leaders here at UKZN,’ he said.
Words: Sinegugu Ndlovu