Surprise new boss for UKZN

2014-08-15 00:00

IN a surprise move, an outsider has been appointed to head the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, currently CEO of the Pretoria-based National Research Foundation (NRF), has been appointed the new vice-chancellor and principal of UKZN.

Van Jaarsveld will take up his new post on February 1 next year while the current vice-chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, will be available for a three-month transitional handover period ending in April.

The appointment was announced yesterday by Phumla Mnganga, chair of the UKZN council, who said Van Jaarsveld would maintain the institution’s “trajectory” of “academic excellence and transformation” while bringing to bear his combined experience in “academic leadership and as a CEO”.

Makgoba said that transformation of a university such as UKZN was not about race, but “about the transformation of knowledge production”.

Makgoba said at UKZN they had developed young academics and that the professorial age was now between 45 and 50 compared to 55 at other universities.

UKZN had also identified female leaders. “The result is a young academy, with more women shaping knowledge production and more blacks.”

Makgoba said UKZN was a “model of non-racism” that reflected South Africa’s diverse society.

Van Jaarsveld was one of three candidates for the vice-chancellor post, the two other candidates were Professor John Mubangizi, UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor: College of Law and Management Studies and Professor Renuka Vithal, UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning.

Van Jaarsveld, a highly respected researcher in the field of conservation biology, has held his current post since 2009, which was renewed in March this year.

He was previously vice-president and managing director of the NRF.

Van Jaarsveld has held leadership positions in various tertiary education institutions with appointments at the University of Pretoria and the University of Stellenbosch, among others.

He was elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa in 2009.

Van Jaarsveld is a recipient of numerous professional awards including the University of Stellenbosch vice-chancellors award for research excellence; and the Centenary Medal for distinguished career in research, teaching and leadership from the South African Academy of Science and Arts.

He is co-recipient of the International Zayed prize for the environment, a member of several professional and academic organisations and associations, a Fellow of the Royal Society of SA and an elected member of the SA Academy of Sciences.

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