The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning, Prof Jan Crafford is leaving the University with a big bang. His farewell function took place a night just after the announcement of the University of Venda (UNIVEN) being ranked among the Top 11 from a group of 88 universities in Sub-Saharan Africa universities by the 2023 Times Higher Education (THE) Sub-Saharan Africa University Rankings.

Prof Jan Crafford

The Senior Management Committee bid farewell to Prof Jan Crafford fractionally known as ‘Dzulani,’ who served the University for 23 years. The function was held at the Skukuza Golf Club on 29 June 2023.
Prof Crafford is leaving a remarkable legacy and was described by all speakers as a humble, honest, and ethical person.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Nosisi Feza

As she welcomes the audience, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Nosisi Feza boldly indicated that UNIVEN is becoming a giant, referring to UNIVEN’s recent ranking at number 11 by the 2023 Times Higher Education (THE). She said the farewell function was meant to be an excellent day in honour of Prof Crafford. Prof Feza highlighted that this year the University achieved a lot and that should be celebrated. She urged senior managers to support each other in the development of the University.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni when delivering the farewell message said “It is truly fitting that we cannot speak of the success of the University of Venda without Prof Crafford’s name. He spearheaded many successful projects in teaching and learning that led the University to where it is today. “We are where we are today because of the contributions of Prof Crafford and his hallmark kind of leadership”.

“We can all attest to Prof Crafford’s Leadership. He is a very calm person that you can even read from his face”. Dr Nthambeleni appreciated and thanked Prof Crafford’s unwavering support when he joined the University in 2019 as the Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

On behalf of the University, Senate, Council and SENEX, EMC and SMC, ‘’we are so grateful that we had somebody like you”. The Vice-Chancellor and Principal described Prof Crafford so well and perfectly so. Prof Crafford had been too much of help since he joined UNIVEN. “You were a devoted friend, a true and dependable colleague. We traveled together in exceedingly demanding situations.” He said managing the challenges of the University is not an easy task. “When others go to sleep, you are up to solving the challenges. Sometimes when you walk, other people believe that all is well, hence you know that it is not.” Prof Crafford stayed longer at UNIVEN and has all the institutional memories for things that have worked and things that have failed. He thanked Prof Crafford’s wisdom that they moved mountains together. Dr Nthambeleni indicated that Prof Crafford has been leading a particularly important division of the University, the academic, teaching and learning. Through Prof Crafford’s leadership, the University traverses a number of issues.


The Vice-Chancellor and Principal thanked Prof Crafford’s kind of leadership which was an example of how we should lead. He describes Prof Crafford as a servant, humble leader that all can attest to. All these attributes come from the richness of his heart. He has always had an effective way of engaging with students. “Prof Crafford is very hands-on on social media.” He has been regarded as a source of information to the EMC and SMC on what is going on in the students’ space or if there will be a strike the following day, he would be the first to know. “You have been a father to many.” Dr Nthambeleni said, “When the history of the University is written, your name will feature more greatly based on the contributions and amount of time you gave to this institution.”
Dr Nthambeleni wished Prof Crafford good health as he retires but also thanked him for availing himself even beyond retirement.

Prof Crafford on the far left

In his response, Prof Crafford thanked his colleagues in the EMC that it has been a huge privilege to serve the University of Venda as an Executive Manager for the past ten years and five years before then as a Senior Manager. “The reason I have been here so long is because I always believe that UNIVEN is a special place. It is a special place for special people and serves incredibly special students. “One of the best things about my retirement is that I’m retiring when UNIVEN climbs the ladder when it comes to its rankings,” says Crafford. He thanked and appreciated the Vice-Chancellor’s appointment for a second term. He mentioned that he knows that the Vice-Chancellor and Principal will take UNIVEN to greater heights even in his second term. Prof Crafford thanked all the colleagues he worked with as well as those in EMC. ‘’As our institution is an institution of learning, we too, should also learn from each other. This big ship is still sailing in the right direction with a good hand.” He thanked the Executive Deans and told them that he is leaving the faculties in good hands and that he expects to hear wonderful things going forward.

He concluded his response by saying ‘Above all let’s treat each other with love.’

Well wishes were pouring from different representations from directors, executive deans, and executive management.

Director Human Resources, Mrs Uanda Ndou

Director Human Resources, Mrs Uanda Ndou on behalf of all the directors, gave a glimpse of the history of Prof Crafford. Representing the directors, she defined Prof Crafford by his humility and his calmness, gentleness and the just attitude he exuded in dealing with things.

Prof Natasha Potgieter

When representing all the Executive Deans, Prof Natasha Potgieter who is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture quoted most of the bible verses to give Prof Crafford strength and she even pronounced the blessings of the aroma of the bible and all joined hands in support of the blessings and that indeed may the Lord shine upon Prof Crafford.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Robert Martin

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Martin on behalf of EMC, described Prof Crafford very well when he says he is an honest person, though humble, he is a man of integrity. He is a man of some sterling character. He cannot just shift from what he believes and this is humbleness coupled with justice. Prof Crafford showed people how to be able to live and be honest in their lives.

University Registrar – Adv Edward Lambani

“It is not easy to be the one to make a vote of thanks on an occasion when our very own colleague who served the University diligently is said to be leaving”, these were the words of the University Registrar, Adv Edward Lambani with his own unique way of proposing a vote of thanks. “Indeed, we are becoming a giant as we are celebrating the Vice-Chancellor’s second term and Prof Crafford who is retiring”. Prof Crafford knew everything about the University. He became a lecturer, to being an executive and having been a principal of the University.

Prof Crafford’s farewell function was considered by members of senior management as an opportune moment to celebrate the renewal of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal’s contract for another five years. When responding to the messages of congratulations for the renewal of his contract, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni said he is humbled by the confidence shown by the University Council in his leadership and looks forward to continuing leading the University of Venda to be a world-class comprehensive institution of higher learning.

Dr Takalani Dzaga when directing the programme


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