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Sol Plaatje University (SPU) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Andrew Crouch hosted the prestigious annual Vice Chancellor’s Awards on 9 December 2022 at the Multipurpose Community Hall, South Campus.

The second Vice-Chancellor’s Awards recognised and rewarded excellence in the SPU community, with winners announced in three categories: Excellence in Research, Community Engagement, and Service Delivery for the year 2021.

A rigorous selection process was set by the panel and nominees had to meet the criteria, including being a staff member for at least three years in any category for research, teaching and learning, or community engagement.

Prof Crouch explained that the purpose of these awards – apart from being a morale booster – is to recognise people who have exceeded expectations and have gone beyond the call of duty. “These are individuals who have ensured the university reaches its goals. They are excellent staff who deliver outstanding work. It is important to instil a culture of excellence – and the recipients of these awards are the people who exemplify the best of Sol Plaatje University,” said Prof Crouch.

The Research award is bestowed upon an academic who has increased SPU’s local and international research visibility. The winner of this category, Prof Nhamo Chaukura, a full Professor in the Department of Physical and Earth Sciences in the School of Natural and Applied Sciences was recognised as a research expert in 2021. He has published 19 peer-reviewed journal papers in high-impact and reputable journals, and in terms of community involvement he and two colleagues assist high school learners with chemistry, physics, and mathematics for grades 10 to 12.

The award for Excellence in Community Engagement is bestowed upon someone who has placed the institutional goals of learning and knowledge production central to high-impact, public engagement, with a focus on engagement as a scholarly endeavour.

The joint award was presented to Ms Gail Motlhaudi, lecturer in the School for Economic and Management Science and Ms Eva Mamabolo, Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT) Lecturer.

Ms Gail Motlhaudi has championed the introduction of various student entrepreneurial activities at SPU, led an Entrepreneurship Task Team at the School of Economic and Management Science in 2021 and, together with an overseas collaborator, developed the concept document for the SPU Centre for Entrepreneurship Development and Research (CEDAR). Ms Eva Mamabolo’s leadership has resulted in community engagement activities through student hackathons. Ms Mamabolo participated in the mathematics and science interventions at Carnarvon High School and trained and mentored unemployed youth seeking digital skills for employability. She is known for organising events, including the ITweb Security Summit Hackathon, the Telkom SIM Swap Fraud Hackathon, the Northern Cape Broadband Hackathon, NEDMISA and DIRISA Hackathons.

The Excellence in Service Delivery Award is granted to an individual who contributes to creating an enabling culture of service excellence within the University community.

The recipient for this award, Ms Anna Beattie is a Senior Officer in Teaching Practice from the School of Education. She ensured that the 2021 blended academic programme was managed on a variety of platforms and in different modes, whilst making sure that the COVID-19 regulations are adhered to. In 2021, the Teaching Practice Office serviced 1154 students, with Ms Beattie providing the necessary support to the fourth-year students, including assistance with online applications for their SACE registration. Ms Feroza Nooroodien, an Officer in Communication and Marketing from the Department of Institutional Advancement, also received this prestigious award for rendering excellent services to the University community, through her outstanding organisation of high-impact university events in 2021. She played a pivotal role in organising the first ever online graduation ceremony and the inaugural VC’s Cycle Challenge in 2021, a first of its kind, which she was wholly responsible for developing the concept.

Sol Plaatje University continuously strives toward academic excellence. We seek to become research active in prioritised niches within a supportive institutional environment and culture to deepen the academic programme and its orientation to quality teaching and learning. These awards acknowledge the unwavering dedication of staff who work to establish the foundations for the long-term sustainability of Sol Plaatje University while also developing community engagement as a scholarly activity.