At the second annual Vice-Chancellor’s Awards presented by the Sol Plaatje University (SPU), excellence in the SPU community was recognised and rewarded.
Winners were announced in three categories, namely Excellence in Research, Community Engagement, and Service Delivery.
A rigorous selection process was undertaken, and nominees had to meet various criteria.
This event was hosted on 9 December by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Andrew Crouch at the Multipurpose Community Hall on South Campus.
Crouch explained that the purpose of these awards – apart from being a morale booster – is to recognise people who have exceeded expectations and have gone beyond the call of duty.
“These are individuals who have ensured the university reaches its goals. They are excellent staff who deliver outstanding work. It is important to instil a culture of excellence – and the recipients of these awards are the people who exemplify the best of Sol Plaatje University,” said Crouch.
Excellence in Research
The research award is bestowed upon an academic who has increased the SPU’s local and international research visibility. The winner of this category, Prof. Nhamo Chaukura, a full professor in the Department of Physical and Earth Sciences in the School of Natural and Applied Sciences, was recognised as a research expert in 2021.
He has published 19 peer-reviewed journal papers in high-impact and reputable journals, and in terms of community involvement he and two colleagues assist high school learners with chemistry, physics, and mathematics for Gr. 10 to Gr. 12.
The award for excellence in community engagement is bestowed upon someone who has placed the institutional goals of learning and knowledge production central to high-impact, public engagement, with a focus on engagement as a scholarly endeavour.
The joint award was presented to Gail Motlhaudi, lecturer in the School for Economic and Management Science, and Eva Mamabolo, Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT) lecturer.
Motlhaudi has championed the introduction of various student entrepreneurial activities at SPU, led an entrepreneurship task team at the School of Economic and Management Science in 2021 and, together with an overseas collaborator, developed the concept document for the SPU Centre for Entrepreneurship Development and Research (Cedar).
Mamabolo’s leadership has resulted in community engagement activities through student hackathons. She participated in the mathematics and science interventions at the Carnarvon High School and trained and mentored unemployed youth seeking digital skills for employability.
She is known for organising events, including the ITweb Security Summit Hackathon, the Telkom SIM Swap Fraud Hackathon, the Northern Cape Broadband Hackathon, National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (Nemisa) and Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (Dirisa) Hackathons.
The excellence in service delivery award is granted to an individual who contributes to creating an enabling culture of service excellence within the university community.
The recipient for this award, Anna Beattie, is a senior officer in Teaching Practice from the School of Education. She ensured that the 2021 blended academic programme was managed on a variety of platforms and in different modes, whilst making sure that the Covid-19 regulations were adhered to.
In 2021, the Teaching Practice office aided 1 154 students, with Beattie providing the necessary support to the fourth-year students, including assistance with online applications for their South African Council for Educators (Sace) registration.
Feroza Nooroodien, an officer in communication and marketing from the Department of Institutional Advancement, also received this prestigious award for rendering excellent services to the university community, through her outstanding organisation of high-impact university events in 2021.
She played a pivotal role in organising the first-ever online graduation ceremony and the inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Cycle Challenge in 2021, a first of its kind, which she was wholly responsible for developing the concept.