Former Wits DVC is new Sol Plaatje head

A former Wits deputy Vice-Chancellor has been officially appointed the Vice-Chancellor of the Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley.

Former deputy Vice-Chancellor (academic) of Wits University, Professor Yunus Ballim, has been appointed the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the 2-year-old Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley.

Ballim who officially started as VC of Sol Plaatje University (SPU) yesterday, said the position is both “exciting and scary”.

As a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wits, he was requested by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), in 2013, to set up the SPU. This decision was supported by Wits University.

Unencumbered by phrases like ‘previously advantaged’ or ‘historically Black’, SPU offers opportunity to do new and exciting things

During this time Ballim’s title was ‘Interim Head’ at SPU but he retained a teaching and research relationship with Wits.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela about SPU, Ballim said, “As the first truly South African university, unencumbered by phrases like ‘previously advantaged’ or ‘historically Black’, SPU offers opportunity to do new and exciting things in higher education, particularly around high quality and successful intellectual development of students from traditionally marginalised communities.”

Despite moving on to a new university, Ballim says he hasn’t fully left Wits: “Wits has kindly agreed to allow me to retain my professorship in civil engineering (with no salary) to continue my research, supervision of postgraduate students and occasional teaching at postgraduate and undergraduate levels.”

With the task of being a VC of a very young university, Ballim said that “…developing the institutional, academic and infrastructure capacity of a new SPU is a very big challenge for me. As I indicated, I am nervously excited about my new task.”