Exceptional staff honoured at the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards

On Friday 8 December 2023, Sol Plaatje University’s (SPU’s) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Andrew Crouch hosted the third annual prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards at the Multipurpose Hall on South Campus.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards aims to recognise and acknowledge exceptional staff members who have demonstrated an exemplary level of commitment and dedication in their area of expertise as well as their contribution towards the institution and broader community. This year, winners were announced in three categories: Excellence in Service Delivery, Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Excellence in Research.

The panel members for the categories, considered nominations through a thorough evaluation and selection process that required nominees who foster ongoing professional development, boost staff morale and productivity, staff and academics who have demonstrated inspirational leadership and instil notions of best-practice and excellence in all aspects of work at the University.  

In his address Prof Crouch briefly explained the purpose of the awards while remarking on what constitutes excellence. “This year Sol Plaatje University celebrates a decade of excellence. The founding strategy of the University developed in 2014 was a response to its environment and its aspirations. The University aspired to be a site of learning, research, and culture; an engaged social participant; a knowledge economy leader; an innovative 21st Century institution; and be a globally relevant university in Africa that is integrally connected to African issues, while projecting knowledge globally. Through these awards we encourage staff to establish a habit of excellence in small things if you are to reach greatness in big things. Only one thing distinguishes excellence: it is a fixed quality. Anyone who decides to be the best at something must always remember that the day’s greatest achievement is merely that day’s achievement.”

The award for Excellence in Service Delivery recognises a staff member who consistently surpasses the anticipated standards of their role and exhibits exceptional performance. This award has been presented to Ms Boitumelo Mabija, Senior Administrator in the School of Economic and Management Sciences who has created an enabling work environment that fosters excellence. The foundation of excellence is built by the quality of her actions and the integrity of her intention. Through her work, Ms Mabija was able to build successful partnerships, and this can be attested to by the many “good works” remarks she receives from both internal and external stakeholders.

The Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award is bestowed upon an academic who has made significant contributions to the development of academic and student capabilities at both school and university levels, along with demonstrating proficiency in using inventive assessment strategies. Dr Wiets Botes, a lecturer in the School of Education and acting Head of Department for Natural Science Teaching was announced as the recipient for his outstanding pedagogical methods, which involves transforming the traditional module content into stimulating and interactive learning experiences for students, alongside his effective utilisation of all the university’s teaching technologies, including teaching studios and video content development to make learning engaging and enjoyable has earned him this prestigious award.

The Excellence in Research Award is conferred to an academic who has augmented SPU’s research visibility, both locally and internationally through their research output. This recipient of this award is Dr Simbarashe Gukurume, has been recognised for producing the highest number of publications for the 2022 academic year. In addition to this achievement, he earned top scores in submissions for research grants at both national and international levels as well as offering his expertise on various panels related to these fields. These accomplishments demonstrate Dr Gukurume’s dedication not only to his area of study but also to exemplifying excellence within the institution.

In her closing remarks, Ms Annalene Marais, the Chief Financial Officer, commended all the award recipients for their remarkable accomplishments and expressed her gratitude to both attendees, committees and teams who worked tirelessly towards making this event a success.

The University’s 2020-2024 strategic plan set out to exponentially increase student enrolments, deepening academic offerings, becoming research active, developing as a digitally enhanced university, laying the foundations for financial sustainability, and expanding community engagement.  Through the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards, this reinforces SPU’s dedication to quality in teaching, research, and community engagement through a service-oriented approach in its structural and administrative practices.


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