Alumni add their voice on the Transformation of RU

More participation invited

Rhodes University alumni consultations swung into action in May with several well-attended meetings in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Namibia and in Perth. Similar consultations are planned for various other towns in South Africa and internationally in the two months ahead.

The Alumni Transformation Task Team, one of nine such teams facilitating transformation debates at the University, has developed an interactive programme for alumni in a two-pronged approach: an online survey and consultations both scheduled to be completed before the Transformation Summit scheduled for the end of July.

Alumni are acknowledged as the largest stakeholder group that plays a strategic role in the Rhodes community. This is an opportunity for alumni to voice their opinions on transformation and the future trajectory of the University.

The four completed meetings have shown “great commitment to Rhodes University by our alumni. There is a healthy convergence in the views held by our alumni on specific transformation topics. There are instances where extremely sharp differences are expressed. Polarisation in the debate relates especially to the question of the name of our University. It is refreshing that views are not linked to race, gender, age or any of the usual fault-lines,” Director for Communications and Advancement, Luzuko Jacobs, said.

“The consultations are characterised by open-mindedness, appreciation for transformation as a critical imperative, and uncompromising commitment to the institution. There is a shared concern over the financial sustainability of the institution” he summed up.

Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Dr Peter Clayton, addressed the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth meetings respectively.

"We depend on your ideas and wise counsel," Dr Mabizela told Cape Town alumni. Reminding them of their role as lifetime members of a distinct and distinguished community, he told the meeting that the intention was to listen to the views of the alumni. “We want to hear,” he said.

He urged everyone to use the debates to provide a “safe space” for everyone where different views can be presented, respectfully, without fear or favour. We want your views about Rhodes University, about what we need to retain and what we need to jettison in order to be even better at what we do.

Emphasising that the tradition of academic excellence was non-negotiable, Dr Mabizela said transformation should not conjure up unpleasantness. It should be something that we can embrace. It is about growth and moving forward.

“We ask you to journey with us in this regard knowing also that transformation is a perpetual process of betterment and refinement and not an event. As the world continues to change we need to continue to transform and reinvent ourselves,” he said.

Although the name of the institution is a critical part of the process, consultations aim to address transformation at Rhodes as comprehensively as possible. Issues around demographics, quality, the curriculum, naming of public spaces and buildings are critical element of the transformation agenda of the University.

All alumni agreed about the need for transformation to build an even better University and not a weaker one which is a shell of itself.

Alumni are invited to attend meetings advertised on the University website and to log-on to provide opinions and input on the University’s transformational journey. The results of the survey, as well as feedback from planned discussion sessions, will be presented at the Transformation Summit. 

To participate, click on…/SV_3y0KdGqcpc4Rn3D

Source:  Communications

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