I take this opportunity to pay homage and extend a deep sense of gratitude to the visionaries who took that very first step, such as Dr Enos Mabuza, Dr William Ndlala, Prof David Mabunda, Prof.Selby Ripinga, Prof JP Shongwe, Mr DD Mabuza, Mr Irvin Phenyane, and many others”.
Before assuming her position as the first VC of the University of Mpumalanga in November 2014, Prof Mayekiso attained experience in various academic and leadership roles over three decades from several institutions. In her sterling academic career, Prof Mayekiso has held positions of Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor, Head of Department, and Vice Dean at the then-University of Transkei (Walter Sisulu University).
She then joined the University of the Witwatersrand, where she served as Head of School, Deputy Dean, and then Acting Executive Dean in the Faculty of Humanities. She proceeded to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2007, as an Executive Dean in the Faculty of Arts, and then Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Engagement.
Prof Mayekiso acknowledged that establishing a new University had its own fair share of challenges. However, the support that she received from the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, the Council, members of the Management Committee (MANCO), students, staff members, and members of the community contributed positively to the establishment and growth of the UMP.
Prof Mayekiso attributes the success of UMP to effective teamwork, dedication, and collegiality of MANCO. The VC further expressed her gratitude to staff members and students for their contribution to the Pioneering Journey of UMP.
In reflecting on the progress that UMP has made, Prof Mayekiso referred to her inaugural speech in May 2015 when she made the commitment to build a Comprehensive University that mirrors a post-apartheid institution and said “Pioneers have to build a firm foundation, mindful that what they are creating should be durable, marketable, sustainable, and enduring. Generations yet unborn must find a thriving University, one they will be proud to join, because we who pioneered it, laid a firm foundation, and got into this immense project with body, mind, and soul”.
Prof Seepe spoke about the remarkable journey and great strides the institution has made.
According to Prof Mayekiso, some of the notable achievements in UMP’s Pioneering Journey and as a testament to a Decade of Excellence and Creating Opportunities include the following:
- As an engaged University, UMP placed great emphasis on partnerships and collaborations as drivers and enablers of achieving our vision. Over the 10 years, UMP has established 32 partnerships with international Universities, 11 in Europe, 4 in North America, 9 in Asia, 8 in Africa, and 2 in Australia.
- The success of the ENACTUS programme has been the pride of UMP, to date the UMP Enactus Team has won 32 trophies from national competitions. In 2022, the UMP ENACTUS team came second out of 21 institutions that competed.
- 220 VC scholarships have been awarded since 2016, covering full tuition, accommodation, meals, learning materials allowance, monthly stipends, and personal development.
- As part of growing its own timber, some of the students who started with their first qualifications at UMP are now doing Master’s and Doctoral degrees. UMP has appointed some of them as Academic Talent Stewardship Fellows and Associate Lecturers.
- UMP has achieved a Pass rate ranging from 80 - 85 % over the years.
- UMP has graduated 4, 485 students since its establishment.
- UMP has been awarded the National Research Foundation (NRF) Excelleration Award which acknowledges South African research institutions for achieving the most improved research performance.
- NRF-Rated Researchers have increased from 1 in 2024 to 13 in 2023.
- 47% of UMP academic staff members have Doctoral Degrees.
- UMP enrolments have increased from 169 students in 2014 to 8,442 in 2023.
- UMP academic offerings have increased from 3 in 2014 to 65 in 2023.
- UMP staff complement has increased from 12 in 2014 to 595 in 2023.
- UMP has received an unqualified (clean) audit opinion for the ninth consecutive years, from 2014 to 2022.
- UMP boasts some of the most iconic infrastructure of a university in our country to support the academic project.
The event was well attended by students, academics, staff, and external guests.
In closing, Professor Mayekiso quoted her 2015 inaugural speech when she said, “For our sake, and for the sake of generations yet unborn, let us join hands, to build a relevant, creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial University, which will serve the needs of this province, those of South Africa, then Africa, and indeed, those of the world generally”.
In responding to the keynote address of Prof Mayekiso, Higher Education Consultant and former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zululand, Professor Sipho Seepe, commended the VC and her team for their unwavering commitment to building UMP to be what is it today.
“The imperative of constructing UMP for future generations carries significant weight. It goes with saying that there is a need to safeguard this institution and build on its successes given the solid foundation that has been laid by Prof Mayekiso and her team,” said Prof Seepe.
Story by UMP Communications Division. Pictures @Chrisplphoto.