It would take a big cake to hold 140 candles as Unisa celebrates this time span of educational excellence. Unisa is now a ‘cente-quadra-generian’ university as Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor) has tongue-twistedly coined it.
Let’s practise this now, as the VC has announced that 2013 will be dedicated to celebrating this landmark achievement. That’s right, the entire year!
The theme for the anniversary is 140 years of shaping futures to highlight how the university has helped ordinary South Africans achieve their dreams of obtaining quality education.
Makhanya explained that he had long pondered the significance of Unisa turning 140 years old. “I was considering the huge number of students who have passed through our doors over the past years. Unisa has graduated the rich and famous and the poor and famous, the rich and poor infamous, and the ordinary men and women whose commitment and diligence have enabled them to graduate from Unisa to go and do extraordinary things with their lives,” he said.
The historical significance of Unisa’s achievements over the years was something Makhanya also touched upon. He believes Unisa sets itself apart from others. ”In a country of opposites, disparity and diversity, Unisa has perhaps been the single constant. Unisa and those who have worked for her have served South Africa and its people as well as our continent, irrespective of their circumstance, faithfully for 140 years. I can think of no other institution that can make that claim,” he explained.
While speaking of the past glory and achievements, Makhanya clarified that setting goals for the future was of paramount importance. “It is Unisa’s performance as a graduator of quality graduates that will ensure its continued excellent reputation. Let us not falter in ensuring that we build on the wonderful legacy that has been left to us. Let us make our contributions to shaping futures!”
*Article by Rajiv Kamal and Kirosha Naicker