Letter to Alumni


Wits matters. It matters to our students who benefit from the globally competitive education that we provide. It matters to their communities. It matters to all South Africans who are ably served by Wits-trained healthcare professionals, lawyers, entrepreneurs, accountants, engineers, teachers, artists and musicians.

And it matters to the nation, Africa and the world that Wits academics contribute globally relevant research on everything from high-speed computing to HIV/AIDS, climate change, sustainable societies, and the origins of humankind and the universe.

In the challenging environment of a young democracy, Wits is a robust presence in South Africa’s civil society, determined to maintain an open space for the vigorous debate of ideas, unafraid to speak truth to power, and a staunch advocate for human rights and non-discrimination, as well as ethics in government and the marketplace. It is in the vanguard of a burgeoning and globally-engaged Africa – one that seeks solutions to challenges that impact not only Africa but the world.

None of this is easy.

Wits must maintain a globally competitive university while playing a critical role in building a nation and continent that is undergoing complex transformation. This requires hard trade-offs that are not simply managerial and strategic, but also ethical and moral. We cannot ignore the entrenched inequality in South African society and the severe capacity constraints that are limiting Africa’s economic growth, but we must find the resources to educate the best young minds on the continent, while also providing the funding and infrastructure for globally relevant research.

There are those who say that it can’t be done, but we prefer the perspective of our world-renowned former student Nelson Mandela, who wrote, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” We are ambitious regarding teaching, research and impact on a global scale, and I believe that we – our staff and students – and you – our friends, alumni, and supporters – comprise a powerful community which together can achieve that which seems impossible.

Please join us on our journey.


Professor Adam Habib

Vice-Chancellor and Principal