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The University of Venda Alumni on the road to make a difference

The University of Venda Alumni and Convocants came in numbers from different places to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Polokwane at Miami lodge on Wednesday, 05 December 2012. The AGM was attended by more than 100 Alumni.

Mr Phuti Seloba welcomed the guests and reminded them that Convocation and Alumni is the largest stakeholder of the University and is an important voice to change the future of UNIVEN.

Tribute was paid to staff and students who have lost their lives during the year 2012.

The Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda, Prof Mbati presented the State of the Campus report to Alumni. In his State of the campus report, Prof Mbati reported that it had been a very good year for the University as the University was celebrating its 30 years of existence and that this was made possible because of the support from Council, management, staff and students. “As the University we achieved a substantial research growth of over 700% in the past six years and recent research output indicates a growth of 44 % compared to previous years,” said Prof Mbati.

The Vice-Chancellor further reported that there are completed projects such as the new Student Administration building; New Life and Chemical Sciences Building; Extension to the Environmental Sciences Building; New female student residence and Refurbishment to the library which were officially inaugurated by the Chancellor of the University honourable Mr Kgalema Motlanthe during 2012 May graduation ceremonies.

He informed Alumni that the Minister of Higher Education and Training has approved new infrastructure projects plans of UNIVEN totalling R340million. The projects include two new student residences; Student centre; Second phase of school of education building; Human and Social Sciences (Language Laboratory, Media Laboratory, Music studio); Extension of disabled student unit; Animal biotechnology laboratory and upgrade to sewage system.

He added that the University 2012-2016 Strategic plan, which had last been revised via a broad consultative process, has been approved by Council. Prof Mbati also informed the meeting that UNIVEN has recently introduced Social Responsibility Fund in which as Alumni they are expected to contribute in order to assist students.

Prof Mbati went on to report that CETA officially launched a historic R22 million project at UNIVEN and the funding will support the activities in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the school of Environmental Sciences. BANKSETA donated R400 000 towards the Disabled Student Unit for teaching and learning activities. The meeting was also informed about the projects to be funded from Council controlled funds and On-going projects at various phases of completion.

The Vice Chancellor encouraged alumni to contribute to the growth of UNIVEN as an institution. He asserted that Convocation can help to support students financially by introducing various bursary and sponsorship opportunities. As he concluded his report, Prof Mbati thanked the representatives of the Convocation on the Council Mr Shumani Ravhuanzwo, President of the Convocation, who is also the Deputy Chair of Council and Thovhele Vho Nthumeni Masia.

The President of Convocation, Mr Shumani Ravhuanzwo presented the report which was later adopted by the meeting. In his annual report, Mr Shumani Ravhuanzwo highlighted that Convocation has been actively engaged in seeking to bring graduates and former students back to UNIVEN so that they can also become part of the new narrative and success story of the University. In addition, Mr Ravhuanzwo highlighted the activities and initiatives undertaken by the Convocation Executive Committee during 2012. Mr Ravhuanzwo
reminded the meeting about the advertisements placed on different newspapers for members of Alumni to update their contact details for the purpose of having an accurate database.

The President of Convocation reported that the Office of Convocation and Alumni raised an amount of R89, 500 that was used for awards of Best performing students in the May 2012 graduation ceremonies. The President heartily thanked all the sponsors and alumni who made this possible like UNIVEN Agric Alumni Association, School of Management Sciences Alumni Association, Camp Bottle store, Bobs Furnishers, Do Light Transport, Agape Chartered Accountants inc, Judge Yvonne Mokgoro, Dr ME Makhwanya, Dr MA Chaya, Dr NE Nangammbi, Dr Zahida Ahmed, Booyens du Preez and Boshoff, Anton Ramaano Attorneys, KC Maiwashe, Intelli Card company, Wimpy/Debonaires, Murendi Properties and Material supplies, Mikosi and Associates, Neosho Trading 139 Pty Ltd , Prof Nesamvuni Awards and Chief Makwarela Ratshitanga.

At the end of his report, the President highlighted the proposed recommendations that may stimulate interest and increase participation in convocation and alumni activities such as more exciting events in the form of Alumni Jazz night; Wine testing; snooker and soccer clubs; alumni prayer evenings; young alumni (June Month); old alumni breakfast; (alumni female graduates) event during women’s month; musical festival and other cultural activities during heritage month; more public lectures aimed at inculcating a culture of giving; visiting workplaces with a view to get UNIVEN alumni’s current contact details as well as shaping the direction of convocation and alumni through crafting policies and strategic plans.

During discussions and way forward, there were comments made by Alumni which included the following:

  • Change of the University name
  • Bursary for students
  • Increase of Computer labs for postgraduate students
  • Need to encourage prospective students to enrol for education/teaching programmes
  • Experiential training for Media students
  • Need to provide conducive environment for academics to provide quality teaching and learning
  • Establishment of Satellite campuses
  • The University was urged to raise awareness to potential employers to consider graduates with disabilities as they are able to perform like others
  • Considering partnerships with Government Departments
  • Univen to consider a 30 year vision from which the five year strategic plans would be drawn
  • Science students should assist with the development and maintenance of Website.

Mr Evans Selomo proposed a vote of thanks. The session was chaired and facilitated by the Deputy President of Convocation, Mr Francois Mvundlela.

The AGM was followed by a dinner at which guests had the opportunity to network and interact with the Vice Chancellor and Principal as well as the Executive of Convocation.