The hunt is on for a new boss for the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)
The advertisement followed the resignation of Dr Albert van Jaarsveld last year after a turbulent three years at the institution. His term was due to end in September this year.
During his tenure Van Jaarsveld had to deal with a number of issues including #FeesMustFall and claims of racism after some of the university’s top executives were suspended following an acrimonious fallout with him.
After his resignation in August last year, Professor Nana Poku was appointed as acting vice-chancellor.
Normah Zondo, acting executive director, corporate relations division at UKZN, said the post was initially advertised last year. She said the appointment process could take anything between three and nine months.
Some of the candidate requirements include a PhD or doctorate, at least eight years demonstrable leadership and experience at executive management of a faculty or college.
“The successful candidate must be a credible individual of unquestionable integrity with strong interpersonal and financial capabilities, who is an institutional leader and is able to establish substantive networks internally and externally with different stakeholders,” read the advert for the position.
According to Stellenbosch academic and a former vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen, in the tough turbulent times that are facing higher education, vice-chancellors should have a good dose of humility.
In his opinion piece entitled: “Cheat sheet for VCs running universities in turbulent times”, which was recently published in the Daily News, he said vice-chancellors should work for the betterment of the institution and the people at the institution.
He said understanding one’s limitations and surrounding oneself with competent people was another key aspect for successfully running the university.
“A singular ambition. Sitting in the main office, you tend to overreach by wanting to do everything on a long list of goals. Do one or two big things well and you are more likely to make an impact,” Jansen advised.
Also weighing in, education expert Professor Kobus Maree said the new vice-chancellor would have to be adept at many things, including handling financial matters. “This is particularly important since free tertiary education was announced in the country and balancing the books is important. Another matter that needs to be changed is to decolonise the institution’s curriculum,” Maree said.
“Diversify staff and also recognise and promote people who have been previously excluded,” he said.
Despite the challenges that an institution faces, Maree said real leaders would not shy away from applying, but “would see this as an opportunity to turn the institution around”.
“It is a huge opportunity,” he said.