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Hundreds show up for the first day of SMU symbolic in-person Graduations Ceremonies

Hundreds show up for the first day of SMU symbolic in-person Graduations Ceremonies

The symbolic in-person Graduations Ceremonies commenced in  earnest at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University yesterday 20 September 2022 for the cohorts of students who graduated virtually in 2020 and 2021 respectively as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions enforced by government at the time. Professor Peter Mbati in his capacity as Acting Chancellor presided over the ceremony and also awarded Degrees to a group of students who could not attend the May 2022 physical graduations ceremonies due to reasons beyond their control.

Speaking at the start of the two-day ceremonies, Professor Tandi Matsha-Erasmus in her capacity as Acting Vice- Chancellor congratulated all graduates and commended them for defying the odds to eventually complete their studies in the midst of Covid-19 and other geopolitical factors and challenges. Matsha – Erasmus further urged the graduates to remain humble and kind especially to those who assisted them to attain their qualifications. She commended Prof Mbati for his leadership of the University adding that the work he has done remains visible. The Acting Vice-Chancellor challenged the graduates to fight corruption and any form of maladministration wherever and reminded them that they are joining multitudes of SMU Alumni whom the University is proud of.

Families and friends came to support graduates as they walked the stage and got an opportunity to take photographs as part of creating memories. When the ceremonies are concluded today, it is expected that over 1000 graduates would have been awarded their qualifications in different fields of study from the Five Schools of the University namely; Schools of Medicine, Health Care Sciences, Oral Health Sciences, Pharmacy as well as Science and Technology.

Newsflash - Hundreds show up for the first day of SMU symbolic in-person Graduations Ceremonies

Newsflash – SMU welcomes new members of management in critical portfolios

Newsflash – SMU welcomes new members of management in critical portfolios

SMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Peter Mbati together with his Executive and Senior Management Team welcomed on board new members o morning 08 September 2022. The new team members are Professor Tandi Matsha-Erasmus (Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Research), Ms Noxolo Tshutsha (Director Supply Chain Management) and Mr Tulani Nkuntse (Director Student Affairs).

Speaking during the occasion, Prof Mbati congratulated the new team members on the appointment to critical management positions and wished them well in their tenure. The Vice-Chancellor thanked all colleagues who acted in the three portfolios before they could be filled. He pointed out that Professor Patrick Demana held the fort of DVC with dedication and efficiency. The VC further thanked Mr. Themba Khumalo who acted as Director Student Affairs for ensuring stability in this portfolio. Ms Tshutsha had previously acted as Director SCM and was applauded for having stabilized the directorate. The VC further emphasized that the Academic and Research portfolio is critical for the University and that everyone at SMU is here to support the academic project and the academics should be made to feel appreciated and supported.

Prof Matsha-Erasmus expressed her appreciation for the warm welcome she received upon arrival at SMU. She described herself as a nice and orderly person who is straightforward, honest and tells the truth as she sees it. She also thanked Prof Demana for his assurance that he will support her until she gets on her feet.

Mr Tulani Nkuntse also mentioned that the SMU family was welcoming when he commenced with his duties and echoed the VC’s sentiments that SMU is a supportive environment. He was excited to be part of the team and optimistic that together will achieve great things for the university.

Ms Tshutsha expressed her gratitude for the opportunity the University gave her to serve in the senior management team.

Newsflash - SMU welcomes new members of management in critical portfolios

Prof Patrick Demana leads an SMU Delegation to France Making a case for Research Collaborations

Prof Patrick Demana leads an SMU Delegation to France Making a case for Research Collaborations

Senior representatives from 23 South African Institutions, including vice chancellors and deputy chancellors, representatives from the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the South African Department of Higher Education (DHET), attended South Africa and France Higher Education Week, held in Paris and Mont-pellier from the 27th June to 2 July 2022.

The event was organised by the French Embassy in South Africa in collaboration with Campus France and the National Research Foundation. Professor Tunon de Lara, the President of France Universities, His Excellency (HE) Mr. Tebogo Seokolo, the South African Ambassador to France, and His Excellency (HE) Mr. Aurèlian Lechevallier, the French Ambassador to South Africa, were also present as members of the local French delegation. The primary goal of the event was to strengthen collaborations between the two countries, encourage research productivity, enhance postgraduate research and training, strengthen knowledge exchange and broaden staff and student mobility programs.

The SMU delegation, led by Professor Patrick Demana, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and Research, Professor Mapaseka Seheri, Director of Research and Innovation, Professor Larry Obi, Dean of Science and Technology, and Dr. Antonio Lentoor, Senior Lecturer and Interdisciplinary Neurocognitive Scientist from the Department of Clinical Psychology, represented the University on the platform for the governance of higher education institutions in France and South Africa.

The visit played a significant role in pursuit of the university’s vision, conceived, among other things, on the necessity of advancing and enhancing internationalisation and strategic partnerships, particularly in research, innovation, scholarship and science diplomacy in key areas of research that highlight SMU’s mission.

Universities such as the University of Portiers, University of Paris Est Centreil (UPEC), University of Paris Saclay, University of Bordeaux and University of Montpellier have been earmarked for potential collaboration to further strengthen SMU’s agenda on internationalisation and strategic research, student and staff mobility. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be developed for each institution in this regard.

It is important to note that as part of its expansion, SMU is in the process of establishing the School of Veterinary Sciences and the Department of Optometry in the School of Healthcare Sciences. Regarding the latter, possible teaching and learning collaboration with institutions in France, with similar programmes, will be explored and further be considered for international benchmarking following discussion with relevant universities in this regard.

Prof Patrick Demana leads an SMU Delegation to France

Let us nurture a Culture of Giving at SMU

Let us nurture a Culture of Giving at SMU

Have you ever wondered why some Universities always appear to have “extra” funds to support needy students by offering bursaries/scholarships, and to support initiatives such as providing meals to needy students?

Many times, these are older well-established institutions where the culture of giving has been ingrained in the psyche of staff, alumni and members of the convocation of these institutions.

We, at SMU, have now taken a conscious decision to primarily sensitize our staff, students, alumni and convocation that they must be the first port of call when it comes to fund raising efforts for our needy students. Our view is simple: that unless we ourselves become champions of giving, nobody else will believe in our calls to fund raise. If we don’t believe in the cause ourselves, why should anybody else? It is for this reason that we, recently, launched the SMU Harambee Annual Fund which has been well received by our staff, students and alumni.

The spirit of Ubuntu and giving is part of our DNA. It is a long known African tradition that a child belongs to the community and hence the adage:
“It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”.

Our students are our children; and SMU is their community which is expected to contribute towards their growth and development. To our SMU staff, students, alumni and convocation, I passionately call on your virtue
and sense of community and belonging! Let us nurture a spirit and culture of giving by providing a safety net for our vulnerable students by giving them a sense of pride and dignity. I urge you to support the SMU Harambee initiative!

Ways to give
1. Payroll donations
2. Online donations: https://smu.devman.co.za/devman/online/giving/
3. Pay Scan – Zapper
4. SMU banking details Ref: Standard bank, Acc: 070754128, Branch code 020909, Q013 – Name Surname

Contact Details: Mr. Sbusiso Gwala: Institutional Advancement Officer |
Department: Communications and Marketing
Unit: Institutional Advancement
Email: sbusiso.gwala@smu.ac.za
Cell: 073 069 0428

Vice Chancellor Mbati lauds minister Blade Nzimande during the launch of the Sibusiso Bengu Development Programme

Vice Chancellor Mbati lauds minister Blade Nzimande during the launch of the Sibusiso Bengu Development Programme

The honourable Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande formally launched the Sibusiso Bengu Development Programme (SBDevP) in Durban on 22 July 2022. This programme was previously called the historicallly disadvantaged institutions (HDI) grant, but has now been expanded with a much larger budget. The launch was attended by Vice Chancellors and other Senior Managers from the eight universities designated as historically disadvantaged, the DG, DDGs and other Senior officials from the Department of Higher Education and Training. The patron of the Programme, Professor Sibusiso Bengu (first Minister of Education in the democratic South Africa) was also present with members of his family.

The SMU Vice Chancellor Prof. Peter Mbati delivered an address representing HDIs while the key note address was delivered by the Minister Dr Nzimande. The SMU delegation consisted of Prof. Patrick Demana (Acting DVC Academic & Research), Mr. Theo Bhengu (Director Grants) and Dr. Senoelo Nkhase (Director Centre for University Teaching and Learning). The SBDevP continues to be an important intervention in our HDIs without which the current transformation witnessed in these institutions would not have been seen. This development grant has assisted universities by providing funding to resolve institution specific challenges, backlog of infrastructure neglect and decay, and serving as a catalyst for effective and efficient functioning in key academic and operational administrative functions. In his career as Vice-Chancellor, Mbati has been in the inimitable position of being at the helm of two HDIs, and this fund has critically changed the operating landscape of these institututions, including among others:

  1. Establishment of Centres for Higher Education Teaching and Learning/CUTL, with funding made available to appoint qualified academic practitioners with requisite skills and experience.
  2. Reviews and development of PQMs in line with our Ministers’ call for a differentiated higher education sector, with universities playing to their strengths and not attempting to be clones of existing institutions.
  3. Establishment of Grants Management offices, to ensure that the SBDevP is uncompromising in the manner the projects are managed, and that we can account fully for resources given to the University.
  4. Review of the Viability and Sustainability of program offerings, thereafter canning those that are not viable, and appropriately recurriculating others as the market may demand.
  5. Capacity in critical administrative and operations divisions to increase efficiency and productivity, including the development and embedding of systems to improve operational efficiencies and effectiveness at these institutions. For example with the dramatic increase in funding from Infrastructure Efficiency Grant, HDIs appointed skilled professionals with engineering, quantity surveying, project management, and other qualifications within the Built environment to provide the necessary oversight for mega projects funded through the Infrastructure Efficiency Grants. Etc,

As SMU was a new stand-alone university, there was a great need to review the governance systems, including the academic rules of the Schools and the reconfiguration of the academic governance committees. This programme funded the processes leading to the development of a new business model of the University to ensure it becomes financially sustainable in the long run. There were other strategic infrastructure projects that were made possible by the grant, including the Africa Bio-imaging Facility, Occupational Health and Safety Audits, and the Bulk Water System Contribution to the City of Tshwane.

Finally, SMU feels greatly honoured to have been chosen by DHET to be the home of programme management for the Sibusiso Bengu Development Programme and we have entered into a memorandum of agreement with DHET in this regard.

Despite the many challenges facing HDIs, the SBDevP enables these institutions to reimagine and renew ourselves, serving as a catalyst that enables their development plans to translate into quality and excellence.

Prof. Mbati took the opportunity to thank Minister Dr Blade Nzimande on behalf of HDIs for his steadfast belief and conviction in our higher education sector, and in particular, the requisite laser focused attention he has given to HDIs to transform into highly efficient well-resourced universities of choice.

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SMU meets with the Chinese Embassy

SMU meets with the Chinese Embassy

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) has taken a conscious decision to place the Academic Project (teaching and learning and research and innovation) at the centre of its operations. This involves the
establishment of national and international partnerships and collaborations to ensure that it has adequate capacity to support its strategic objectives.

It is against this background that SMU, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbati, hosted the Chinese Embassy at SMU on the 27 July 2022. The Chinese delegation was led by the Chinese Minister Counsellor for Science and Technology, Mr Long SHEN and the second Secretary for Science and Technology, Mr. Wei XIE. The meeting follows on initial discussions with the Chinese Embassy as well as the prestigious Wenzhou Medical University located in Zhejiang, China.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Mbati said that “SMU has taken a de- liberate approach to establish partnerships to help address heath issues locally, continentally and globally through teaching and learning and research and innovation”. He further indicated that central to the discussion was the need to, broadly, deepen the relationships between SMU and Chinese higher education institutions.

In response, the Chinese Minister Counsellor emphasised his government’s commitment to advance health sciences and innovation, including the development of vaccines and research in smart agriculture. He further emphasised China’s commitment to fund research projects on the African continent. In this regard, the first project that will be initiated between SMU and the Chinese government is skills development and training in the field of ophthalmology, involving the Wenzhou Medical University.

The highly ranked Wenzhou Medical University (WMU) was identified as the partner of choice for collaboration with SMU. The initial engagements with WMU were aimed at the introduction of an Ophthalmology and Optometry Advanced training programme and the envisaged collaboration between SMU and WMU. This drew on ongoing SMUs efforts to strengthen and enhance strategic partnerships between academia and industry nationally and internationally.

As part of the meeting, SMU’s Director for Research and Innovation, Prof. Mapaseka Seheri made a presentation focusing on the establishment of the Centre of Pandemic Diseases. In her presentation, she indicated that as part of SMU’s strategic goals the university seeks to ensure that through the establishment of the Centre, it “contributes to ensuring an understanding of emerging pandemics and how best to treat them, and to strengthen health policies, equip policy and decision makers with evidence-based research interventions”. Furthermore, the Centre seeks to build collaborations with internationally recognized centers of excellence”, Prof. Seheri said. Possible collaborations with the Chinese government in this regard were considered.

To conclude what, in all respects, was a successful meeting, the Chinese visitors were taken through a campus tour where they visited the following laboratories: MECRU, Microbiology, Centre of Entrepreneurship and the EMU facility. What has become evident is the commitment between SMU and the Chinese Embassy to forge a partnership and to contribute to the training of health sciences practitioners and to address health challenges in South Africa, China and globally.