Decorated academics in the running for UKZN VC post

2019-05-03 15:00
'Climate of fear' amid university inaction.

'Climate of fear' amid university inaction. (File)

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Three decorated academics have been shortlisted for the post of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s new vice chancellor.

Professor Nana Poku, the current acting VC and principal of UKZN, is in the running along with Professor Nora H. de Leeuw, the Pro-VC of Cardiff University, and Professor Peter Amunga Mbati, the Deputy Pro-VC at Botho University in Botswana.

The three were interviewed by UKZN this week, and an announcement on who will replace former VC Dr Albert van Jaarsveld is expected to be made in June.

Van Jaarsveld resigned last July after accepting a job to head up the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. He served as VC from February 2015, and left UKZN officially in October last year.

Poku, who has been acting VC since September last year, served as the deputy VC and head of the College of Law and Management Studies and as the executive director of the Health Economics and Aids Research Institute. He is a political economist.

Poku obtained a PhD from Nottingham Trent University in the late 1990s, a Master of Science in development economics from Coventry University and a Masters in International Relations from Nottingham University.

He has assumed several leadership roles at other universities, including being its deputy VC of research, executive dean of the School of Social International and Social Studies and a researching role at the University of Bradford.

He had worked in a directorial capacity at the World Bank and Overseas Development Bank, a wing of the International Monetary Fund, between 2000 and 2005.

ukzn

Professor Peter Amunga Mbati, Professor Nana Poku and Professor Nora H. de Leeuw. 

He has served numerous international leadership roles and think tanks.

De Leeuw has served as the Pro-VC at Cardiff University since 2014 and has been a member of the university’s council since 2015.

She has a PhD in computational chemistry from the University of Bath and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics from Open University.

She has served as the director of research and innovation at the Department of Chemistry at University College London.

De Leeuw is an experienced manager, having headed Cardiff University’s Doctoral Academy since 2016 and served as the deputy head of the university’s Department of Chemistry between 2009 and 2014, among other positions.

She is a professor of computational chemistry at Cardiff University, a professor of theoretical geochemistry at the Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University and a visiting professor of biomaterials at the Université de Paris-Est.

De Leeuw formerly served in academic roles at Queen’s University Belfast, University College London, Birkbeck College London, the University of Reading and the University of Bath.

Mbati is a former VC and principal of the University of Venda, which he left in 2018 to serve his current role at the University of Botswana.

He holds a PhD, a Master of Science in parasitology and a Bachelor of Education Honours in botany and zoology, all from Kenyatta University in Kenya.

Mbati serves as a member of several committees related to parasitology, including being the chairperson of the local organising committee at the Parasitological Society of Southern Africa Conference. He is also an advisory board member of the Academic Research Centre in Harare. Mbati has received several awards, including the Ruforum Impressa award as a first runner-up, which recognises excellence in research and institutional capacity.


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