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Vice-Chancellor bids farewell to Unisa students

The 2020 Academic Closing Ceremony took place at the time of Covid-19 and its restrictions, mirrored by a time of transition in the leadership of Unisa and its Council.  The ceremony highlighted Unisa’s many achievements under the difficult circumstances accompanying the global pandemic.

While these achievements were a cause for celebration, it was also a poignant experience as the university bid farewell to Professor Mandla Makhanya, outgoing Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Unisa. Makhanya retires after two successful terms of steering the University towards becoming a leading ODeL institution and a university in the service of humanity.

Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor) addressed his final Unisa academic closing. "It has been a long and rewarding journey of more than three decades as Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Executive Dean, Dean and academic."

Taking the podium to deliver his address, Makhanya had nothing but sincere gratitude for the time he spent at Unisa. “It has been my honour to have shepherded this university through possibly the most tumultuous decade in higher education in South Africa,” he said. “It has not been an easy task – in fact at times it seemed to be almost impossible, especially during the three tumultuous years that we had to endure.”

Makhanya  also took time to express his appreciation to Unisa students who have journeyed with him and the university during his ten-year tenure.  “The past ten years had their tumult, disruption and some tough times,” he said, “but our students never gave up.  I am especially proud of the manner in which our students have embraced online examinations in real time.  The statistics speak for themselves.  This has not been easy, and it speaks to those qualities for which Unisa students have been renowned: resilience, proactivity and courage.  Long may it continue!”


Despite a number of unpredicted and complex challenges, Unisa has managed to ensure that it continued with its operations, and it has done so quite successfully. Most importantly its academic performance has been sustained and satisfactory under extremely challenging circumstances.


The closing ceremony also affords the university to celebrate top performing students per college. There was much excitement and ululating as students received due recognition on the red carpet with acclamatory elbow bumps. The College Graduate Excellence Awards were presented by Professor  Veronica McKay, Acting Vice-Principal of Teaching, Learning, Community Engagement and Student Support, and the Senate and Council Excellence Awards were presented by Prof Zodwa Motsa-Madikane, Executive Director of Leadership and Transformation in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor.

Some of the recipients of the College Graduate Excellence Awards and the Senate and Council Excellence Awards


“This has been a long, tough year and I thank each and every one of our students for holding on and doing their best to save the 2020 academic year. I wish you and your loved ones well for a blessed and relaxing festive season,” said Makhanya. 


* By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020-12-15 00:00:00.0