PROFESSOR Nana Poku has been announced as the new vice-chancellor (VC) of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.Poku, who had been acting VC and principal since last October, has taken up a five-year contract with immediate effect, UKZN said yesterday.The political economist beat fellow shortlisted candidates Professor Nora de Leeuw (Pro-VC of Cardiff University) and Professor Peter Amunga Mbati (Deputy Pro-VC at Botho University in Botswana).Poku replaces Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, who accepted a job to head up the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. He served as VC from February 2015 to October last year.UKZN said in a statement that Poku’s appointment follows a “global search and was made with the unanimous approval of both council and the university’s senior appointments committee”.Poku described the appointment as an honour and privilege. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to lead UKZN into the future, to build on the legacy of the university and to continue to fulfil the founding vision of UKZN in the strategic areas of research, training, and outreach,” he said.UKZN said it was thrilled with the appointment, saying Poku’s contribution so far has been “significant”, and that he is highly respected.Dr Letticia Moja, the acting chairperson of the UKZN council, said: “We are looking forward to his leadership and guidance and are confident of his ability and commitment to contribute towards taking the university to greater heights.”Poku joined UKZN in 2013 as the executive director of the Health Economics and Aids Research Institute (Heard).He was appointed as deputy vice-chancellor of the College of Law and Management Studies at UKZN in 2017.Poku holds a PhD in International Political Economy and has a distinguished career in research and policy on the political economy of health and HIV and Aids in sub-Saharan Africa. He also has experience in institutional management. — Witness Reporter.