The University of Venda has appointed Professor Vhonani Olive Netshandama as a Director Community Engagement with effect from 01 January 2019. Professor Netshandama is a trained mental health nurse and the first Director of Community Engagement (CE) at UNIVEN, since 2009. During the first five years, she facilitated the community engagement policy and strategy, launched several CE programmes and coordinated some from respective schools. She initiated and nurtured several IKS programmes and has been instrumental in LGBTIQ research and advocacy at UNIVEN with collaborators from other universities.

In the subsequent years, Professor Netshandama focused on capacity development and on CE oriented scholarship and educational experiences for undergraduate students, including international exposure. Professor Netshandama is the 2016 winner of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Distinguished Woman in Science award. She continues to mentor junior staff members and students, particularly women and girls at UNIVEN and beyond. Students organisations under her mentorship include ENACTUS, Vhamaandafhadzi, SheReings, etc. She is active in Transdisciplinary post graduate supervision and continue to provide experiences and support undergraduate student leadership development and critical cross-fields competency such as problem solving, critical thinking, team work, etc. She is currently awarded an NRF grant to develop a programme to develop a socially entrepreneurial and innovative culture at UNIVEN and THOHOYANDOU town. She is currently the Deputy Chair of South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum (SAHECEF): An organisation representative of university staff responsible for a broad typology of community engagement expressions in Higher Education.
Professor Netshandama is grateful to the collaborative effort of colleagues and students at UNIVEN and is looking forward to a rejuvenating 2019 and beyond.

Issued by:
Department of Communications & Marketing
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525
Date: 22 February 2019

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