College of Science, Engineering & Technology

Meet the new Deputy Executive Dean of CSET

Dr Mukondeleli Katumba aims to make the curriculum of the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology at Unisa more relevant while maintaining a global competitive edge. We caught up with this dynamic academic to find out a little bit more about her.

Can you give us a brief background to yourself?

I was born in Venda and studied at Tshwane University of Technology, NMMU and UJ. I am an industrial engineer by profession and I have been in management roles for more than 15 years, of which 10 were in higher education.

What influenced you to join the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology at Unisa?

Unisa is one of the best and largest universities in Africa and I saw myself as being part of this university of the future. Secondly, I wanted to work in a challenging science environment, which I found in the Unisa Science Campus where I can now contribute, together with my research colleagues, to making this a science campus of excellence not only on the continent, but worldwide.

One of the college’s objectives is to transform the curriculum and to ensure that it aligns to local content and context while remaining globally relevant and competitive. This excites me as I am chiefly responsible for teaching and learning and can therefore contribute hugely to making the curriculum more relevant while maintaining that global competitive edge.

Being an African university, I believe that the work we do will have a tremendous influence on Africa as a continent, which improves and increases my reach much more than was the case with my previous employer.

What do you do in this position?

As deputy dean of CSET, my main responsibilities are teaching and learning, community engagement, and the extended science programme. I lead the teaching and learning portfolio and my aim is to ensure excellence in this portfolio. I am entrusted with the development of strategic objectives for teaching and learning in CSET and I am working to ensure that we become the best open, distance, and e-learning (ODeL) science, engineering, and technology college in Africa and in the world. My focus for the next three years will be to improve the quality of teaching and learning, student interaction, and the implementation of e-learning.

Some of the key strategic areas are curriculum transformation, Higher Qualification and Education Sub Framework (HQESF) curriculum alignment, programme reviews and the student satisfaction index. Under the capable leadership of Professor Bhekie Mamba, I am also contributing to ensuring that the science centre becomes self-sustainable.

What particular skills or talents are you bringing to CSET and Unisa?

Having been in higher education leadership for the last 12 years, I bring with me a wealth of experience in higher education management and leadership. I am also an emerging researcher in the field of optimisation, and am currently setting up my research group.

I have been a recipient of National Research Foundation (NRF) financial aid for the last three years and look forward to acquiring additional funding from 2019 onwards.

The university is celebrating 145 years in 2018. What does this mean to you?

145 years of hard work and resilience, that, to me, is what Unisa embodies. I believe we are the oldest ODeL university in Africa and the world and hopefully we are also the best in the business—for if we are not, then the question begs, with such a wealth of experience, why are we not the best in the business?

Who would you say has been the biggest positive influence on your career?

My grandmother, undoubtedly—she told me never to be afraid of taking on challenges and that I would be as good as I wanted to be. Remember, we are capable of continuous growth, as long as we are willing to learn.

What exactly does the word ‘success’ mean to you?

Success, to me, is being the very best I can be and doing everything that I undertake to the very best of my ability. There are no half measures. If you cannot give your best, you must rather decline the task.