MESSAGE FROM THE VICE-CHANCELLOR (Dr. Mvuyo Tom)

Many of us will remember 2010 for years after it has come and gone. The year 2010 is the year when for the first time Africa will be hosting the FIFA Soccer World Cup!

As an African university the University of Fort Hare is joining millions in Africa in welcoming and appreciating the landmark occasion for the continent. In welcoming the year we also welcome you as students to this iconic and unique University. You form part of many generations of students and scholars who have been part of this institution since 1916. However, as you can witness from the uniqueness of this year, every generation and every year are unique.

As we move closer and closer to the centenary in 2016 it is interesting to participate in this wonderful journey that Fort Hare has been through, and still continues to traverse. The odyssey has proved that each year brings a new set of experiences.

The core functions of the university remain teaching and learning, research and community engagement but how we experience them is unique for each individual. In 2009 the university went through a process of developing a new strategic plan which will carry us towards our centenary. A part of that strategic plan contains aspects of the institutional quality improvement plan based on the quality assessment we went through in 2008. The improvement plan is aimed at making sure that we move closer to our cherished goal of enhancing excellence in these core functions. We hosted for the first time the 13th Annual International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) Conference on internationalization in higher education. This dealt with a very exciting and interesting theme on:"Internationalisation: Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide in Higher Education". In 2009 we also launched the pilot of the Grounding Programme which is now known as the Life Knowledge Action (LKA) Programme. The year 2010 is not only unique because of the World Cup but it will also see the LKA Programme being implemented on a full scale. This programme is aimed at continuing the tradition of this institution of producing critical thinkers through empowering education. We would like to see this not only contained in the LKA Programme but infused and embedded in all curricula. In the 16th year of a democratic South Africa more and more of such thinkers are required.

In 2009 we saw one of the worst recessions the globe has ever experienced. It is unlikely to be over in 2010. Such changes in the economy impact on every aspect of society including higher education. In our quest for excellence and the production of a new generation of scholars and intellectuals we should not let this economic climate dampen our spirits. Instead we should be looking for alternatives that will overcome the market failures. Society needs you to rid it of such disasters be they economic, environmental or social. Institutions of learning are supposed to be spaces where you can engage with each other and produce knew knowledge that will be relevant and responsive to societal needs.

 You are going to make various decisions as you embark on an intellectual journey in search of expanding your knowledge frontiers. Our five faculties (Education, Law, Science and Agriculture, Management and Commerce, and Social Sciences and Humanities) together with the various schools within them are going to offer you a wide range of choices. Once you have made your choices you have to commit to the pursuance of knowledge so that you do not just pass examinations but are prepared to make the contribution required of you in the development of society. This means you must make use of every facility and opportunity availed to you, the lectures, laboratories, libraries, computer labs, Teaching and Learning Centre, the academic staff etc.

 You will be moving around various buildings, equipment and property that have taken a lot of resources to purchase and maintain. It is our collective responsibility to make sure we preserve such and use in a very responsible manner. The investment of R150m for infrastructure that started in 2007 has finished its three-year cycle and has been followed by another investment of R143m for the next two years.

 You will also be moving around with other human beings who may be staff or students. Please remember that they too are as human as you are with the same human rights and responsibilities as you have.

 Welcome to the University of Fort Hare and I hope you will make a great contribution in ensuring we excel in achieving the goals that we have set for ourselves.

 Education affords you an opportunity to intervene not only in your own life but in the world. Let the UFH Charter of Values and Principles be your guide as you make those interventions.

 

Dr.M Tom