THE Nelson Mandela University (NMU) council proudly announced the appointment of Dr Sibongile Muthwa as the university’s new vice-chancellor and principal recently.Muthwa, who has served as the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for institutional support for the past seven years, will serve as the institution’s first black African female vice-chancellor and brings to the post a wealth of experience from the public sector and academia, both nationally and abroad.Dr Muthwa will take over the reins from outgoing vice-chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz who has served the institution with distinction for two successive terms since 2007. Earlier this year, Swartz communicated his wish not to renew his contract, setting in motion an extensive recruitment drive.At a sitting of the university council on Friday, October 13, Muthwa was unanimously selected as the successful candidate.Muthwa has led a distinguished career in both South Africa and the United Kingdom. She spent many years holding leadership positions in the development of public sector and academic institutions. Speaking of her appointment, Muthwa said she is extremely humbled by the confidence shown in her by the university council and looks forward to leading an institution that is set to distinguish itself nationally and continentally as a new generation university.“Our university, sector and country are at the crossroads. “We can use the prevailing situation to our advantage. “At NMU we are hard at work implementing strategies not only intended to enable us overcoming the challenges we face, but also to place us firmly on a positive growth trajectory. “I am looking forward to working with the team to collectively take the university to greater heights.”Between 2004 and 2010 Dr Muthwa served as the director general of the Eastern Cape provincial government. Before joining government, she was the director of the Fort Hare University Institute of Government for five years.Muthwa holds a PhD from the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. Her other academic qualifications include an MSc in development policy and planning (London School of Economics), BA Honours (Wits) and BA in social work (UFH).Prof Swartz congratulated Muthwa on her appointment, hailing it as a historic moment in the life of the university. “It is an exceedingly proud moment for us all. “Muthwa serves doubly as the first female vice-chancellor and first African female vice-chancellor in the history of the university, and without doubt will inspire new generations to rise to the highest levels of achievement. We are absolutely delighted with her appointment,” he said.