The President of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) Justice Mandisa Maya was installed as the new Chancellor of the University of Mpumalanga (UMP).
She was officially inaugurated during a high-level event that was held at the university’s main campus in Mbombela, which was attended by several dignitaries including Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni- Tsipane, King Makhosonke II of AmaNdebele, UMP Vice-chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso and the Chairperson of Council of the University of Mpumalanga Professor David Mabunda.
The new Chancellor, who was appointed by UMP Council on 29 June, is one of the country’s great legal minds, who has served in various portfolios in the justice sector, which also saw her becoming the first woman in South Africa to hold the position of presidency of the SCA.
In her acceptance speech, Justice Maya said, “I am honoured and grateful to have the privilege of serving as the second chancellor and might I say the first woman chancellor of this pioneering centre of knowledge and education, the University of Mpumalanga.
“I wish to express my deep gratitude to Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso, the Council, Senate, the institution Forum, my brother and colleague Judge President Legodi of the Mpumalanga High Court, who persuaded me to accept the nomination and everyone who was involved in the search process and my ultimate appointment for this exceptional recognition and for trusting me with this very important responsibility for the next five years.
“l am also grateful to everyone, staff, students, community members, delegates from other universities who came from afar to attend this ceremony. I wish to acknowledge and thank the giant that I succeed, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa.
His incredible imprint on this institution that on the occasion of his installation as its chancellor he called an instrument of progress and the beacon of hope, whose identity is unashamedly African is unmistakable.
As huge as the shoes he left for me to fill are, his legacy shines a bright light on our path and the knowledge that our university has his support makes the task at hand a little less daunting and even exciting,” she explained.
She added that it excites her to join the institution that recognises and affirms the ability of women to lead and participate competently in all spheres of society.
“I look forward to the journey with the UMP community over the next few years in service of our shared goals to create opportunities for young people and the surrounding communities through the powerful tool of education.”
Justice Maya, who has also been shortlisted for the position of South Africa’s Chiefs Justice, becomes the university’s second Chancellor, succeeding President Cyril Ramaphosa who served as the first Chancellor of UMP from 2016.
Justice Maya was born in Tsolo, in the Eastern Cape Province 57 years ago. She matriculated from St John's College, Mthatha and went on to obtain three degrees in law from the universities of the Transkei, the University of Natal and the Duke University in the United States from the years 1986 to 1990.
She practised as an advocate until she was appointed as a judge in 1999.
Judge Maya held various positions since she launched her law career as an attorney’s clerk in Mthatha from 1987, including being a law lecturer at the University of Transkei until she became a judge of appeal in the SCA in 2006. In May 2017 she became SCA President after serving as the institution’s Deputy President.
UMP Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso said the installation of the new Chancellor coincides with remarkable accomplishments the institution has made since it was established in 2013 and enrolled its first 169 students in 2014.
“Over the years, the university has grown in stature and academic offerings from offering three undergraduate programmes in 2014 to 32 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2021 with 5,392 registered.
This year alone, the University received accreditation from the Council on Higher Education (CHE) to offer its first two Doctoral Degrees and 15 other new programmes,” said the Vice-Chancellor.
Professor Mayekiso continued that in the academic year of 2022, UMP will be offering 49 programmes from Higher Certificate to Doctoral Degrees in diverse fields such as Agriculture, Nature Conservation, Hospitality and Tourism Management, Information Communication Technology, Development Studies, Early Childhood Education, Arts, Administration, Economics and Law.
“This positive development is in line with the strategic objectives of UMP to conceptualise, develop and launch new qualifications that will both stand-alone and support articulation within UMP and between institutions as outlined in the strategic plan (UMP Vision 2022).”