Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, last week hosted a legacy luncheon for the University alumni at the Lagoon Beach Hotel, Cape Town. According to the Alumni Relations and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Luyanda Bheyile, the legacy luncheon was to strengthen relations between existing and prospective donors with the University. The Vice-Chancellor shared with the alumni some of the exciting developments taking place at their alma mater.
“It is always wonderful to listen to the reminiscences of your time at Rhodes University. We want the future generation to learn from your own experience. Thank you to each of you for flying our university flag with great honour and distinction. I know some of you have retired, but you have left an incredible legacy wherever you have been. We are immensely proud of you, your contribution, and for profiling the name of our University. You are an important part of us,” said Professor Mabizela.
Professor Mabizela reminded the alumni that when they registered to be students at the University many years ago, they became part of that University and that they are now part of it in perpetuity. “We, therefore, owe it to you that from time to time, we should gather in this manner and give some update on where your alma mater is,” explained the Vice-Chancellor.
He proudly reported that the institution is still the best university on the academic front. “We are doing exceedingly well. The academic excellence our University is well known for is still in place. We are building on the foundations that generations of alumni of Rhodes University have built over time. In every metric that one can use to measure the success of a university, Rhodes University ticks all of those very boldly. We have the best pass rate in graduation,” added Professor Mabizela.
Rhodes University alumnus, honorary degree awardee and retired Northern Cape and Eastern Cape Judge President, Judge Neville Zietsman, said he was delighted with the Vice-Chancellor’s report. “I spent very happy years at Rhodes University and am pleased to hear that the University is still doing so well. I hope the University continues on its upward trajectory,” he said.
Judge Zietsman handed his honorary degree gown back to Rhodes University, a gesture he said was motivated by his love for his alma mater. Professor Mabizela accepted the gown and promised that the University would take good care of it.
The 91-year-old retired Judge said: “I was given the honour at Rhodes University of having the honorary doctorate bestowed on me. I still have the gown, which I have used proudly. I am happy now at this stage of my life to be able to give it back to the University and know that it will always be looked after.” Judge Zietsman studied Bachelor of Laws at Rhodes University between 1949 and 1951.
Another proud Old Rhodian and former Member of Parliament, Denise Robinson, said she was grateful to Rhodes University for shaping her into a fighter for justice and equality. “The Vice-Chancellor’s speech was very inspirational, and I am glad that Rhodes University is still a place where leaders learn,” she said.
Robinson studied English, History and Drama at Rhodes University between 1966 and 1969. She spent 22 years in Parliament fighting for human rights and was a ‘shadow Minister’ for women on the slate of the Democratic Alliance.
Professor Mabizela said Rhodes University is still a caring institution committed to creating and generating knowledge that addresses socio-economic challenges, intended to contribute to a sustainable life for all. “We are able to place that at the service of Makhanda. We cannot separate ourselves from the greater Makhanda. We have a very vibrant community engagement where young people contribute in a meaningful way to our city. In the process, they develop critical values of civic duty, social justice, and the commitment to uplift those who might not be as advantaged,” he concluded.