New WSU VC delivers inaugural graduation speech

MAY 6, 2016

Recently elected WSU Vice-Chancellor Prof Rob Midgley kicked off WSU’s graduation ceremonies with an introspective narrative of the University’s current state at the institution’s Butterworth campus on Thursday.

Midgley, who toured the four campuses upon his arrival in April, highlighted challenges currently facing Butterworth campus.

“On my campus tour I saw some challenges, ranging from inadequate housing for students, to the challenges faced by some academic staff, to the shortage of funds for proper maintenance across our campuses.

The tasks are huge, but I can safely say that our collective strength will be greater than the challenges that lie before us,” said Midgley.

Though solemn, he fittingly painted the grim picture that lies in wait for many communities in which WSU operates, and the gradual decline currently faced by the South African economy in light of a new batch of graduands.    

“WSU is a rural University surrounded by communities that face daily struggles of high unemployment, high levels of poverty, high dependence on state social grants and the lack of resources that can improve their living standards. We cannot ignore these socio-economic conditions,” added Midgley.

He did however shower many praises upon the University for its continued focus on community engagement, highlighting the importance for the University to celebrate its fruitful partnerships over the years.

Some of the more notable partnerships include:

  • Partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs as part of Operation Phakisa to develop a water pollution research laboratory;
  • Partnership with Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) SETA to improve maths and sciences in high schools
  • Working in tandem with the SA Medical Research Council to re-establish the HIV/Aids research unit to research HIV vaccines;
  • Together with the SA Heritage Resources Agency in preserving cultural artefacts dating back to the 1800’s

“These are just a few partners who have contributed to the hundreds of millions of rands entrusted to this University to develop our communities, province and country,” said Midgley.

Guest speaker, Simphiwe Dzengwa, weighed in on the much-publicized Fees Must Fall campaign, highlighting the incredible impact it had on the South African higher education trajectory.

He said in light of the prevailing circumstances that largely only affords a few to gain access to higher education, South Africans, of all dispositions, workers, parents, professors, must stand united open the doors of education for all for the development of the country.

“Put in its proper context Fees Must Fall represents the call for universal access to quality education across social strata and classes,” he concluded.

A total of 4 787 students will be capped, with a majority of these being females (2 824) and the rest being males (1 963).

Over 100 postgraduate degrees are set to awarded; 74 Honours, 23 Masters, and 5 PhD’s.