The University of the Western Cape (UWC) held the Convocation (a body comprising mainly of graduates), Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday 06 June 2015 where it elected its annual president.
The Convocation includes all UWC graduates, academic employees (all those currently employed on a permanent basis or on contract for a period of one year or more), the Rector, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Registrar, Executive Directors and the Director of Library Services, two members of Council appointed to Senate as well as those members who were members prior to 2005.
Peace builder and community activist Mlungisi Noludwe, who graduated with a BA degree from UWC in 1998 was elected as the new president of UWC’s Convocation.
Described as the champion of the poor, Noludwe has been an active member of the Convocation executive for some time and is responsible for the community support programmes through which the Convocation solicits graduates to work in marginalized and vulnerable communities.
Professionally, he is employed by the City of Cape Town to facilitate processes aimed at providing access to decent accommodation for vulnerable and poor communities. “This is a form of professional peace work, where I have to function as a mediator between opposing views and groups,” Noludwe explained.
Born in the Eastern Cape and living in Crossroads, Noludwe noted that he wanted to continue the work of the Convocation leadership in bringing the University closer to the community. “Indeed, I’m proud to say that many Convocation members are really doing a lot to promote UWC in the surrounding poor communities.”
Like his predecessor, Brian Williams, Noludwe pledged Convocation’s support to the new University executive under Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius. “As the Convocation, we want the University's leadership to succeed in making UWC a really great University. We must get more donors to support UWC and show potential donors how this University, through its Convocation, is helping to support people at risk in communities.”
At the event, Williams explained that the Convocation is the only structure that represents the voice of graduates in the Council, the University’s highest decision-making authority. Members of the body, he added, are actively involved in addressing issues within different communities, from peace-building to support for organisations in health, entrepreneurship, legal, civic and the social development industries.
In his first address at the UWC Convocation AGM, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Pretorius outlined the current status of the University, including projects underway and those planned for the future, as well as the development of a new Institutional Operating Plan (2015-2019).
According to Pretorius, UWC can be one of the anchor institutions to improve society in all spheres, but added that it needs an urgent sense of community connectedness and strategic focus. “We have to better connect locally to earn respect as a reliable player in the Western Cape region’s social and economic life,” he told the gathering.
“We have to be connected nationally to earn our rightful position as a research-led University, and we have to raise our international connectedness, visibility and stature to improve our chances to participate meaningfully in the global knowledge economy. We also have to improve our digital connectedness and build an ethical community around the seriousness of our intellectual projects.”