Adam Habib answering questions at the Town Hall meeting held on Education Campus yesterday. Photo  Liesl Frankson

Vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib held his second town hall meeting at the education faculty as part of his strategy to engage with the Wits community following his installation.

Habib was requested to bring the meeting to education campus, following the large number of students that didn’t have an opportunity to ask their questions. “In future, I have suggested we have town hall meetings on East, Education & Medical campuses twice a year.” he said

Habib said as vice chancellor of a public university, he was comfortable being with being held accountable for his decisions. He urged students to “feel free” to pose any questions they may have at any time. The first on Habib’s agenda during the meeting was discussing the new sexual harassment regulations.

Sexual Harassment

Habib apologised to every student and staff members who had been affected by the sexual harassment saga. He said the university tried to act quickly when they were informed about sexual misconduct. “I want to send a very strong message to this campus, sexual harassment will no longer be tolerated at Wits. It’s unacceptable that vulnerable women be preyed upon.”

[pullquote]I want to send a very strong message to this campus[/pullquote]

The university recently fired two academics after they were found guilty of sexually harassing students, and initiated a university-wide investigation into the scourge of sexual harassment. Habib said there are two cases of sexual harassment pending and once the investigation has concluded he will take the necessary actions.

Habib’s strategy

In his address Habib said part of his strategic plans for the university is to ensure Wits becomes a more transparent institution. Habib said one of his biggest plans is to increase research output, through a number of things. Firstly he wants to increase the number of postgraduate students from 30% to 50% postgraduate students for the next year.

Habib plans to put more money into postgraduate scholarships, in the coming years, and also double the university’s existing cohort of postdoctoral fellows. “We are going to incentivise research, staff members will get an increase from R10 000 to R20 000 for qualified research” he added. Postgraduate enrolments boost the country’s research output, but local universities have battled to increase enrolment and graduation.

Habib said two main issues had troubled the school. “One of them is the issue of leadership. It’s been a challenge at multiple levels. The second has been the issue of autonomy. And we are going to address them”