Habib to develop a ‘university pact’

2012-12-10 00:00

THE first order of business for Professor Adam Habib — who has been appointed Vice Chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand — will be to develop a “university pact” with the institution’s stakeholders.

The Pietermaritzburg-born academic and media commentator was appointed by the University’s Council on Friday.

Habib said: “My interest in this position is inspired by the vision of Wits University which, through its research, teaching and public engagement, develops high calibre graduates and faculty, and cutting-edge knowledge to address the challenges that face South Africa, Africa and the world.”

Being at the helm of a 90-year-old institution comes with challenges, he said.

Habib said Wits had already defined its role as a world class institution, and the challenge for him would be to smoothen relationships between the staff and management.

And that’s where the pact, which would involve “shared sacrifice, but for shared gains”, would play its part.

In this regard, Habib would prioritise meeting the unions, management and students’ representative council to begin to explore the direction the ­institution should take.

“Wits cannot retain its staff unless they are paid well, so that they don’t leave for better paying institutions,” he added.

Habib said there was a vision for the university, but the question was how to implement it.

“The big lesson I learnt at the University of Johannesburg is that to create a world class institution, you need to get good academics and give them resources,” he said.

The former pupil of Woodlands Secondary in Northdale said he hopes to begin his new job two months before the current Wits Vice Chancellor and principal, Professor Loyiso Nongxa, leaves on May 31, 2013.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

ADAM Habib matriculated from Woodlands Secondary in 1983 and went on to graduate as a political scientist, having received his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Witwatersrand, and his MPhil and PhD from the Graduate School of the City University of New York.

From 1989 to 2001, he served in various capacities at the then-University of Durban-Westville, moving on to become professor of the School of Development Studies from 2001 to 2003.

From 2004 to 2007 he worked as executive director at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

Habib joined UJ in 2007 as the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Advancement.

He later became the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, Library and Faculty Co-ordination at the same institution, which position he currently occupies.

Habib serves on numerous external boards, both in South Africa and internationally, and is widely published.

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