The College of Humanities hosted a celebratory dinner for its staff members who graduated with doctoral degrees.
The dinner at the Maharani Hotel was facilitated by College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Ruth Hoskins, who believes that ‘staff need to be lauded for their academic achievements and excellence.’
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize said, ‘This is a milestone in the life of an academic. A PhD is an entry into the world of academia. Hearty congratulations to our staff members, supervisors and the families of our graduates. By gaining your PhD, you have contributed to the National Development Plan, the University’s international ranking and global knowledge production.’
Speaking on behalf of the College Deanery, Dean of the School of Education Professor Thabo Msibi commended the PhD graduates for navigating and completing the doctoral journey during a difficult pandemic: ‘Now is the time to be active in ensuring that UKZN remains the premier university of African Scholarship. I implore you to remain with the University because you have the potential to be experts in your field. We are always here to support your academic career goals.’
Speaking on behalf of College Professional Services, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa, Dean of the School of Arts expressed her appreciation to the ‘graduates and professional services staff for their hard work and resilience in ensuring the greatness of the College.’ Professional services staff received a standing ovation for their efforts.
Professor Saleem Badat of the Humanities Institute delivered the keynote address on Building Your Post-PhD University Academic Career. He remarked that, ‘For many of us, the University is not an immediately natural home. We sometimes feel like interlopers – and sometimes we are made to feel like intruders and impostors. Perhaps most of you, like me, come from families of little or modest means and are the pioneering firsts in your families to attend university, hold PhDs and become scholars. Like me, you too probably had to be encouraged to read for a PhD and to consider an academic career. Adequate funding and support were probably ongoing struggles. In the face of such challenges, it takes intellect, courage and determination to succeed. You clearly have these.’
Badat identified three challenges related to the academic workforce: ‘cultivating and retaining new generations of academics; transforming the social composition of academics through equity and redress measures for black and women South Africans; and ensuring that new academics possess the intellectual, academic, and related capabilities to effectively undertake teaching and learning, research and community engagement and address their pressing challenges.
‘Capabilities are not God-given or inherited. They can be cultivated though enabling conditions, opportunity, desire, commitment and sweat. Nurturing yourcapabilities is part of transforming our universities and enhancing their academic capacities,’ he said.
Offering advice to the doctoral graduates, Badat said, ‘Don’t ever compromise your intellectual autonomy and academic integrity. If you strive to excel, other scholars and institutions will take notice and you will be in demand. Don’t be a careerist, who regularly job hops and applies for promotion and posts prematurely. As young scholars you must chart your own distinctive paths, but effective mentoring, suitable mentors and other support are critical. I am in the sunset of my academic life. You are at the dawn of your academic journey.’
Lecturer in the School of Education, Dr Lerato Sokhulu, who graduated with her PhD in Education (Curriculum Studies) said she appreciated the gesture by the College and would heed the speakers’ words of advice.