“When you first took the lead, it all looked so normal. None of us knew though, that there were pitch-dark clouds gathering on the horizon. When those clouds burst – a torrent poured down in the form of a pandemic that literally brought the world to a standstill. I must commend the SRC for facing the challenges head-on and not allowing the grip of fear to paralyze you. You really distinguished yourselves and provided exemplary leadership.
You embraced the health protocols. You took to Zoom, Moodle, and Microsoft Teams for online learning and conducting SRC business. In the process, you took the whole student body and helped the institution to understand where the students were at, in terms of their needs, fears and anxieties.
When the students in deep rural areas experienced data challenges and network problems, you drew the attention of the University to their plight and also engaged in solution seeking processes. This is what leadership is all about: open-mindedness, problem solving, compassion, empathy, teamwork and communication. It’s about building bridges and fostering TRUST.
You understood that UMP comes first, and worked always in the best interests of UMP and its students instead of other agendas. As management, we appreciate engagement with student leadership, even with robustness sometimes, but in the end, whenever we have the big picture approach, we arrive at win-win solutions. Striving for common ground has proved a winning formula.
Our approach as UMP management is to strive for an open door policy. We worked together from the beginning not as antagonists but as collaborators – true to our value of Collaboration. You believed in the power of dialogue and engagement. You lead and demonstrated the importance of mutual respect. The needs of your constituency, the UMP students, were met, in the main because you brought them to us as Management and made sure that these needs are properly articulated. You understood the difference among requests, demands and grievances and did not confuse them.
You have been excellent brand ambassadors of UMP realizing the importance of always dressing professionally for formal meetings/events, acting prudently and properly, so that our University is not brought into disrepute. Doing everything in moderation is the rule of thumb, the minute you over-do anything, that should be a signal that all is not well.
May the leadership lessons you learned in your term of office, remain with you for years to come. I look forward to enduring bonds, and the liberty to call on one another for wisdom and for counsel well into the future. My hope is that when fellow students think of you many years later, they will do so with fondness and with hope. May you have wonderful and rewarding careers and continue to be exemplary leaders.”
@ This is the edited speech of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Thoko Mayekiso. Pictures @ChrisplPhoto