Vice-Chancellor’s Circular No. 8 – Welcome to the New Year

Dear Colleagues

Welcome back to the University. I trust you had a restful holiday period and were able to spend some quality time with your loved ones.

The year ahead promises to be exceptionally busy and I wish you the very best in your professional endeavours. My door remains open to you as we collectively strive to make Wits University a world-class institution firmly rooted in, and drawing excellence from, its local context.

The continued realisation of this vision is dependent on the quality of our people, and so it gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of a further four outstanding candidates to senior positions at the University.

Professor Ian Jandrell has been appointed as the new Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment. He served in an acting capacity from 1 September 2013 and took up the reins fully on 1 January 2014.

Professor Jandrell is the former head of the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, where he holds the CBI-electric Chair of Lightning. He also holds directorships of Crown Publications, Wits Enterprise and Innopro, and is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists. At Wits, Professor Jandrell is joint leader of the High Voltage and the Lightning/EMC Research Groups. He has an NRF C2-rating, and is an associate editor of the Journal of Lightning Research and a member of the Scientific Committee of the International Conference on Lightning Protection. He is a professionally registered engineer and a regular consultant to industry in the areas of forensic engineering, earthing and lightning protection, and industrial EMC.

In 1994, the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) named Professor Jandrell Engineer of the Year, and in 2011 he received the SAIEE’s premier award, the President’s Award.

Professor Jean Baxen took up her post as the new Head of the Wits School of Education on 1 January 2014. She joins Wits from Rhodes University where she served as Professor in the Education Department.

Professor Baxen is the author of numerous reports, peer-reviewed papers, and book chapters on aspects of education in South Africa, and authored a book titled: Performative Praxis: Teacher Identity and Teaching in the Context of HIV/AIDS (2010). She also co-edited a volume titled: HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: Understanding the Implications of Culture and Context (2009). Professor Baxen is an active member of the education community in South Africa and sits on a number of editorial boards, advisory committees, and review panels. Before joining Rhodes, she spent a number of years at UCT’s School of Education.

Dr Brett Pyper is a South African cultural practitioner and music researcher who has been appointed as the new Head of the Wits School of Arts, beginning 2 January 2014.

Dr Pyper began his career as an arts administrator and facilitator of developmental music projects during the transition from apartheid, before taking up a Fulbright Scholarship in the US where he was based for six years. He holds Masters degrees from Emory University in Atlanta (in interdisciplinary studies, focussing on public culture) and New York University (in ethnomusicology and popular music studies), and he did his PhD on contemporary jazz culture in South Africa, also at NYU. Between 2005 and 2007, he headed the Division of Heritage Studies and Cultural Management in the Wits School of Arts, incorporating the Centre for Cultural Policy and Management. Between 2007 and 2013, he was CEO of the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival. He was founding Chair of the South African Society for Research in Music, and serves on the steering committee of the Arterial Network, South Africa.

Professor Fethi Ahmed will be taking up the reins as Head of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Science on 1 April 2014.

Professor Ahmed currently serves as Head of the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies at UJ. He was formerly Head of the School of Environmental Sciences at UKZN. He obtained his Masters and PhD degrees at Cambridge University in the UK. Professor Ahmed teaches and conducts research in environmental systems, environmental applications of GIS, remote sensing, spatial analysis and modelling. He has over 16 years of research experience and has authored and co-authored over 65 publications, including peer-reviewed articles in local and international journals, conference proceedings, a book and four chapters in books. He has an NRF C2-rating. Professor Ahmed is a member of several professional societies. His research has been supported with multiple grants from local and major funding agencies, including the NRF, industry and the EU.

Please join me in wishing Professors Jandrell, Baxen and Ahmed, and Dr Pyper every success in their new roles at the University.

Best

Professor Adam Habib

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

13 January 2014