ARTIST AND WITS GRAD HAS GALLERY OPENING IN NEW YORK
April 23, 2019
Ansel Krut, who graduated from Wits University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1983, will be having an exhibition in New York City. Entitled “Back to Back Balloons” it will run from May 04 — Jun 15.
“Back to Back Balloons” is a solo exhibition of new paintings by the London-based artist Ansel Krut. The show is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with an essay by Barry Schwabsky
BE AUTHENTIC AND SHOW UP: Steve Collis (Wits BComHons), CEO of AmerisourceBergen Celebrates 25 Years With the Company
April 18, 2019
Steven H. Collis is chairman, president and CEO of AmerisourceBergen Corporation, a global healthcare solutions leader, currently ranked No. 12 on the Fortune 500. He was elected president and CEO in 2011 and chairman in 2016. Steve wrote about his reflections on his 25 years at the company by posting an old photograph of the team on LinkedIn. Asked what he would tell his younger self (and his young-Wits-student self) he wrote:
Be authentic. Show up. Leadership makes a difference. Show people you care. Listen and learn from customers, associates and channel partners. Always be adapting and sharing.
Under Mr. Collis’ leadership, AmerisourceBergen has experienced tremendous financial growth, as well as increases in both employee population and geographic reach. The company’s annual revenue has jumped more than 80% during Mr. Collis’ tenure as CEO. Its number of employees has risen 70%. Today, AmerisourceBergen’s presence extends to offices in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Read the full post here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-25th-anniversary-amerisourcebergen-trip-down-memory-steve-collis/
NEW YORK ALUMNI REUNION
April 1, 2019
Join the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, Professor Adam Habib, and alumnus Dr Ali Bacher. This is an opportunity for you to connect with Wits and with your fellow alumni.
MAY 8, 2019 • 6-8 PM
PROJECT FARMHOUSE, 76 E 13TH STREET, NYC
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1, 2019.
HOT OFF THE PRESS
March 27, 2019
Wits Review, the award-winning magazine for alumni and friends of Wits University, April 2019 issue out now:
In this issue:
SYDNEY BRENNER’S scientific quest
AGEING … do we really have to?
MELVILLE KOPPIES, outdoor classroom
RUPERT CRUISE’S linear motor system
FIVE alumni and their diverse career journeys
GABRIELLE GOLIATH, award-winning artist
WITS FLUTIST WINS US SCHOLARSHIP
March 6, 2019
Wits flutist and music tutor Khanyisile Mthetwa has been awarded the 2019 Myrna Brown International Scholarship valued at $3 000 by the National Flute Association of America (NFA) and the opportunity to play at its convention in Salt Lake City from 1 to 4 August.
She will be performing live at the 47th Annual National Flute Association Convention on 2 August where she will present a repertoire comprising South African composers. Before then she will perform a concert in Chicago and another in San Francisco at the end of July.
A STEP CLOSER TO AN HIV CURE
March 5, 2019
Wits-associated scientists are part of an international team that has published research suggesting a cure for HIV. Prof. Annemarie Wensing is a key scientific investigator in the IciStem programme, through which the ‘London patient’ and the ‘Dusseldorf patient’ were cured of HIV after stem cell transplants.
Wensing is an Honorary Professor in the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI) with a primary appointment at the University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands.
Read more here: https://bit.ly/2XFelVF
WITS STUDENTS WIN THE COUNTRY’S PREMIER BUDGET SPEECH COMPETITION FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR
NO SUCH THING AS A ‘MISSING LINK’
January 24, 2019
Autralopithecus sediba is not the missing link that connects modern man to its more primitive ancestors.
The fossils that were found 10 years ago by Palaeoathropologist, Professor Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) in Johannesburg, and his son Matthew, at Malapa in the Cradle of Human Kind in South Africa, has recently been described as the so-called “missing link” in human evolution, after the publication of new research by a team of international researchers that confirmed the unique species status of Sediba. This research has been misinterpreted by some sectors, creating the idea that Australopithecus sediba might be the “missing link”.
This perception is incorrect, as there is no such thing as a “missing link” in human evolution, says Professor Berger in an informative video, released by Wits University. “The image of human evolution on T-shirts is incorrect. I would prefer that we forget the term ‘missing link’,” says Berger, who is currently on expedition at the Rising Star cave, also in the Cradle of Human kind, where the other famous human ancestor, Homo naledi, was found.
Berger explains that human evolution is not a linear process, where one species evolve into another, but rather follows a process similar to a braided stream, or river delta, where a stream might branch off into its own direction, or later flow back and join a different stream, which might “evolve” into a new species.
WATCH the video here: https://youtu.be/8Azq3C80lTw?list=PLa5ZXKjWZC_1-FP37HmUiYWclXsQJ7Ixo #NoMissingLink
HOW AN IDEA TRAVELED FROM WITS TO THE SOUTHERN UNITED STATES
January 2, 2019
A short film produced by Witsie historian Dr Karin Shapiro traces the influence of a group of Wits-trained doctors on public health in the USA.
Dr Shapiro (BA 1980, BA Hons 1981) is Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University in the US. Her film about Duke epidemiologist Sherman James shows how his thinking on the relationship between social stresses and health was shaped by doctors who left South Africa between the late 1950s and early 1970s and worked at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.
The video begins: “In 1973, social psychologist Sherman James arrived in Chapel Hill to take up his first academic position as an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health. There he encountered a remarkable group of South African doctors, researchers and educators – pioneers in social medicine and community health.”
Watch the film here: https://youtu.be/AWsQHxPxykQ
FIRST-EVER WOMAN CHANCELLOR OF WITS UNIVERSITY INSTALLED
December 3, 2018
Wits’ newly installed Chancellor, Dr Judy Dlamini, has taken a strong stand for women in leadership positions in South Africa, during her acceptance speech.
Speaking during her installation on Saturday, 1 December 2018 as the Chancellor of Wits University , and the first ever women to act in this position, Dlamini said all institutions in this country need to do more to recognise female leadership, and that failure to do so is abuse, and tantamount to murder.
“Ignoring women’s contributions to different spheres of our lives, ignoring their talent, paying them less and refusing them leadership positions when deserved, is a form of abuse which is no less than killing. Eroding people’s dignity and their self-confidence is tantamount to killing their soul and dignity, which, in my view, is worse than physical abuse,” said Dlamini. “Gender democracy, gender consciousness that validates women in the eyes of others, gender consciousness by both men and women, is what we need. Our contribution and talent needs equal recognition … We fought racial supremacy, we need the same ball of energy by all genders and races to fight and defeat gender supremacy.”
Honouring women leaders such as her mother Rita Dlamini, Albertina Sisulu, Lillian Ngoyi and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Dlamini said she “stood on the shoulders of giants”, in taking up her new position. “Women have always led. African women have always led, no matter where they found themselves in the world, they just did not receive the recognition for their selfless service,” said Dlamini.
JUSTICE DIKGANG MOSENEKE CALL ON US TO PROTECT WITS AS HE ENDS HIS SECOND TERMS AS CHANCELLOR
November 30, 2018
One of Africa’s illustrious sons, Moseneke called for the safeguarding of Wits University in his valedictory remarks as outgoing Chancellor of the University.
“We must guard Wits. We must protect Wits. Wits is one of the gains of our struggles, it’s one of the spoils of the war of freedom. It is not the spoiler. It is one of those things that we emerge with after a long struggle. So you have to put Wits into use. If it needs some repurposing, by all means let’s repurpose it. If you got get rid of some old names, by all means let’s do that. If you want to decolonise some aspects of our offering, we then have to do that because we are duty bound by history to rearticulate our understanding of a good society and Wits must stand in the centre of all of it.”
“Let’s guard this place, let’s have a choir like this, let’s have institutions that work and produce wonderful people that strive for ratings, research outputs and excellence all the time,” Moseneke said.
SIEMENS LAUNCHES DIGITAL MINING INCUBATOR AT WITS
November 20, 2018
The Digital Mining Incubator (DMI), a partnership between global technology powerhouse Siemens and Wits University was launched on Monday, 19 November 2018. The DMI will serve as a hub that enables development of SA’s next generation of digital mining experts contributing to the University’s mission to develop relevant skills for our changing economy and mining industry. The DMI is located at the Tshimologong Precinct, an innovation hub on the University’s Braamfontein campus.
Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of Wits University’s JCSE (Joburg Centre for Software Engineering) and Founder of the Tshimologong Precinct, says, “Having Siemens open a digital incubator dedicated to promoting innovation in mining is a very significant landmark in bringing the benefits of 21st Century digitization to one of the most critical sectors in the South African economy. The DMI will provide a dedicated platform for developing innovative solutions to some of our Mining Industry’s greatest challenges including health and safety, environmental protection and improved productivity.”
WITS ARE VARSITY BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS 2018
October 15, 2018
Wits University’s men’s basketball team was crowned Varsity Basketball champions for 2018, after a dominant performance at the finals on 14 October.
WORLD’S FIRST INTENTIONAL HIV+ LIVER TRANSPLANT
October 4, 2018
Wits doctors transplanted the liver from a mother living with HIV to her critically ill HIV negative child, who had end-stage liver disease.
In 2017, doctors from the Transplant Unit at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre performed what is believed to be the world’s first intentional liver transplant from a mother living with HIV to her critically ill HIV negative child, who had end-stage liver disease.
Now, more than a year later, the mother and child have fully recovered, however, doctors are unsure the HIV-status of the child. In South Africa, a country with the largest anti-retroviral therapy (ART) programme in the world, people with HIV live long and healthy lives. The success of this world-first operation thus presents a potential new pool of living donors that could save additional lives.
73,000-YEAR OLD HASHTAG – Oldest Known Drawing by Human Hands Discovered in South African Cave by Wits Scientists
September 13, 2018
Drawing on a piece of silcrete found in Blombos Cave in South Africa predates previous human-made drawings by at least 30 000 years.
– Earliest drawing by humans ever found
– Red, cross-hatched pattern was discovered in Blombos Cave in South Africa
– Similar patterns were found on various other materials in the cave, indicating the drawings were symbolic, and represented an inherent behaviourally modern aspect of the Homo sapiens that created it.
The earliest evidence of a drawing made by humans has been found in Blombos Cave in the southern Cape in South Africa.
The drawing, which consists of three red lines cross-hatched with six separate lines, was intentionally drawn on a smooth silcrete flake about 73 000 years ago. This predates previous drawing from Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia by at least 30 000 years.
FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION CAN CREATE “A NEW WORLD ORDER THAT PRIORITIZES HUMANITY BEFORE PROFITS AND POWER”
September 5, 2018
Wits, UJ, Fort Hare and Telkom are to develop a national response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution that could shape the futures of South Africa.
“We need to train scholars to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century, some of which we may not yet have encountered,” says Professor Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal. “We need to work across sectors to develop the technology required for us to leapfrog across eons of poverty, unemployment and inequality, and in so doing to create a new world order that prioritises humanity before profits and power. We can’t stop the change, any more than we can stop the sun from setting, so let’s embrace it.”
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is set to dramatically change how humans interact with technology, how we express ourselves, communicate and engage in a new world.
While the potential of transformative technologies – such as artificial intelligence, big data, automation, cryptocurrencies, or augmented, virtual and mixed realities – is immense, we face profound, multi-layered and multi-faceted changes that are radically reshaping how we live, work, do business, and how governments engage with citizens.
Read more here: http://www.wits.ac.za/news/latest-news/research-news/2018/2018-09/sa4ir-to-explore-how-the-4th-industrial-revolution-could-shape-sa.html
CHARLIZE THERON VISITS WITS
SCIENCE WITHOUT BORDERS – Wits VC Prof Habib signs Memorandum of Understanding with Perot Museum
August 17, 2018
Just four months after forming an official alliance with internationally renowned paleoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science has officially partnered with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University). A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed last week providing the groundwork for future collaboration including research, exhibits, traveling exhibitions, and various projects in paleoanthropology, humanities and other academic areas.
“Wits University is excited to collaborate with the Perot Museum, and we look forward to bringing international scientific endeavors to the people of Texas and beyond,” said Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University. “By sharing research and programming in creative ways, we can maximize our institutions’ capacity to be an international resource. This MOU helps us to strengthen academic and scientific collaboration, so that we can achieve social justice goals, based on our common humanity.”
SEMBLANCE: TWO WITS GRADS BREAK INTO THE NINTENDO UNIVERSE
August 7, 2018
A game called Semblance, in which players control a squishy little avatar with the ability to deform the surfaces around it, has been released on the Nintendo Switch.
This is the first game made by South African developers to ever land on a Nintendo platform – and mind-bogglingly enough, it started life as a university art project.
Semblance is the creation of Ben Myres and Cukia Kimani, two former students at the University of the Witwatersrand who met three years ago, while they were studying game design and art degrees respectively. Cukia was putting together a presentation for his class and it drew Ben’s attention almost immediately.
Read more here: https://citizen.co.za/…/semblance-from-bedroom-coding-to-t…/
WITS ANNOUNCES NEW CHANCELLOR – Dr Judy Dlamini elected as the new Chancellor of Wits University
August 1, 2018
The University of the Witwatersrand is proud to announce that Dr Judy Dlamini has been duly elected as the new Chancellor of the University, a position that she will take up from 1 December 2018. She takes the reins from Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who has served for two six-year terms in this position.
“It is an honour and a pleasure to be elected as the Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, one of the most prestigious universities on the continent. I would like to thank Convocation for its confidence in me. I look forward to working with all sectors of the Wits community,” says Dr Dlamini.
A medical doctor by training Dr Dlamini is a leading businesswoman, entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. Her major attribute is creating and adding value to society and humanity. The Founder and Executive Chairman of the Mbekani Group, Dr Dlamini has worked in different sectors of the economy using her diverse skills sets and degrees in different subject areas. Her MBA qualification from Wits University enabled her to change careers and to move into the corporate arena. Dr Dlamini also holds a Doctorate in Business Leadership and an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate from Stanford University.
WITS STUDENTS SOAR IN TRAVEL COMPETITION
July 26 2018
Three Wits University students have won a cash prize of $10,000 in a travel innovation competition by focusing on elderly travelers.
Jules Ntumba, Tso Mello and Fiona Ndlovu, all final year Aeronautical Engineering students, were one of seven teams who were shortlisted in the SITA Travel Innovation competition which required entrants to submit a two-minute video answering the question: “What information, tools or technology will first-time air travellers in Africa need to make their journeys easy, successful and enjoyable?”.
The team designed a physical structure that provides directions, seating and sockets for the charging of electronic devices. “Old people are not acquainted with technology like young people are,” Ntumba said in explaining the motivation behind the concept.
CSI WITS – BRINGING COMFORT AND CLOSURE
July, 24 2018
One in 10 deaths in South Africa are due to unnatural causes with homicide and traffic accidents the most common causes of these deaths.
Even though South Africa has a robust forensic system, identifying the deceased is an overwhelming task due to the sheer number of cases forensic specialists have to deal with. In Gauteng alone, between 15 000 and 16 500 unnatural deaths occur annually; and of these, one in 10 individuals will never be identified and will eventually be buried as paupers.
“It creates a massive humanitarian problem,” Professor Maryna Steyn, Biological Anthropologist, Head of the School of Anatomical Sciences and Director of the Human Variation and Identification Research Unit at Wits, said in her delivery of the Faculty of Health Sciences’ bi-annual Prestigious Research Lecture Series recently.
Wits Celebrates International Nelson Mandela Day
July 19, 2018
See more pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/witsinamerica/posts/2033770183302633
July 9, 2018
What’s better than having a Vice-President? Having two, of course.
Recently, the board of the University of the Witwatersrand Fund, Inc. (Wits Fund) asked Jane Levy and Cliff McMillan to take on the role of the board Vice President.
We asked them what made them say yes. Read more here in the latest Wits Fund newsletter https://mailchi.mp/279ce7293838/veeps-introducing-the-new-vice-presidents-of-the-wits-fund-board?e=a7a95d8494
Showing in Action the culture of Ubuntu
June 18, 2018
To mark 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth on 18 July, and to commemorate his work and legacy for the world, the international representatives of Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town and Wits University are launching the Mandela 100 Campaign. This campaign provides US and UK based alumni from these institutions a platform to give back to their own local communities through their time and talent.
THE GOAL is to perform a total of 100 hours of community/volunteer service, between 18 June and 18 July. We will add all our hours of involvement and work and service in our own separate communities, as committed South Africans living abroad, and as global citizens, showing in action the culture of Ubuntu.
Contribute your hours by taking pictures of your act/s of service – helping at a homeless shelter, weeding the road verge, reading at your local school – and upload them to our Facebook pages:
“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return.” Nelson Mandela
US Deputy Asst. Secretary of State visits Wits
June 12, 2018
Deputy Asst. Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, Matthew Harrington, and a delegation from the US Embassy in South Africa, visited Wits – University of the Witwatersrand on 12 June 2018. They met with Acting Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tawana Kupe, at the new premises of the African Centre for the Study of the United States. The Embassy has been an early supporter of the ACSUS, which was launched only this year.
For more pic, visit the Wits in America Facebook page here.
BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE WITH PHOTONICS
Wits physicists and engineers team up to tackle Africa’s digital divide with home grown technologies
June 4, 2018
Africa has 20% of the world’s population but only 4% of its internet data access. This “digital divide”, with low internet connectivity reach, particularly in rural areas, is both economic and geographic in nature. A team of international researchers, coordinated by Professor Andrew Forbes from the School of Physics at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (Wits), South Africa, and Professor Ling Cheng of the School of Electrical and Information gathered in South Africa recently to address this problem. Their solutions were published in Nature Photonics last month.
The “divide” can be broken down into two parts: an affordability gap due to low disposable income and a geographical gap, due to lack of infrastructure. If South Africa’s gap was to be addressed by state-of-the-art optical fibre then an additional 160 000 km of fibre would be needed. This is possible but very expensive. But getting people connected is a priority, particularly for South Africa, where Broadband has been estimated to raise GDP by R130 billion and create 400 000 jobs. The Wits team are concentrating on bridging the divide by connecting communities with free-space optical (FSO) links – a network of communication channels through air, much like wifi but much faster and with a longer reach.
“Light holds tremendous promise for fast connections across medium distances,” explains Professor Andrew Forbes, team leader of the collaboration and Distinguished Professor in the School of Physics where he heads up the Wits Structured Light Laboratory. “Even Google, Facebook and SpaceX have exotic proposals for Africa that include drones and other aerial vehicles delivering connections in a blanket manner. We are working on point to point solutions with sustainable photonics that are home-grown.”
Harvest day at the Wits Student Food Garden
May 29, 2018
Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tawana Kupe, attended the harvest at the Wits Student Food Garden on 23 May 2018. The produce is distributed through the Wits Food Bank, for those students who are food insecure.
Read more about the Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach Office, which helps run the Food Garden and Food Bank projects, here: https://www.wits.ac.za/students/wits-citizenship-and-community-outreach/
See more photos here: https://goo.gl/kv6YQT
Ground-breaking research from Wits: Homo naledi may have had a pint-sized brain, but that brain packed a big punch
May 15, 2018
The human-like features of Homo naledi’s brain surprised the research team that examined the fossil’s brain imprints.
The recently-discovered species Homo naledi may have had a pint-sized brain, but that brain packed a big punch. New research by Ralph Holloway and colleagues – that include researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa – published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examines the imprints of the brain upon the skulls of this species, called endocasts. The research highlights the humanlike shape of naledi’stiny brain, surprising scientists who studied the fossils. These findings draw further into question the long-held belief that human evolution was an inevitable march towards bigger, more complex brains.
The discovery of Homo naledi by Professor Lee Berger of Wits University and his team at the Rising Star caves in the Cradle of Human Kind in 2013 was one of the largest hominin discoveries ever made and hailed as one of the most significant hominid discoveries of the 21st Century. Berger and Professor John Hawkes who was also part of the original Rising Star team who made the naledi discovery, as well as Professor Heather Garvin from Des Moines University in the US, are associated with the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI), based at Wits University. They are all co-authors of the current study.
Read more here.
In Conversation with the Johannesburg Review of Books: Tawana Kupe discusses the new Wits-based African Centre for the Study of the United States
May 14, 2018
The African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS), a new research centre based at Wits University, Johannesburg, caused something of a stir when it was announced in March.
The Centre, led by Wits University Vice-Principal Professor Tawana Kupe and Professor Gilbert Khadiagala, has the aim of serving as an intellectual base for the study of America and its relationship to Africa.
“The objectives are to produce knowledge, through research, for example, that would enable Africans to understand a powerful nation and its influence, interactions and intersections with the world and Africa. This understanding would enable Africans to formulate their own positions on relations, including trade and economic relations, with the US, as well learn that which could be useful and appropriate for Africa’s own development. Related objectives are to produce a new generation of scholars and students of the US that are an intellectual resource for understanding the US, and by extension the world. Another objective is as a facilitator of partnerships with primarily universities, think-tanks and US institutions of different kinds.”
Read more here.
BEING HUMAN @ THE PEROT
May 11, 2018
ARE YOU LIVING IN OR VISITING DALLAS? Don’t miss out on the Perot Museum and its Being Human hall, where the discoveries of Wits professor Lee R. Berger are highlighted and where you get the chance to try virtual reality excavation. And then, when you are done there, make time to visit the rest of the museum’s halls and exhibitions… definitely a must-do experience.
Read more about the opening of the new Being Human hall here.
Pictured here is “Becca Peixotto, director of the new center and a colleague of Berger’s. She was one of six “underground astronauts” who ventured 100 feet below ground into a cave to retrieve a new species of human relative that Berger discovered in 2013. It is called Homo naledi. She filmed video of the cave in February that now forms the basis of a virtual reality experience presented in the new hall.”
CURIOSITY 4: #WATERSHED
May 7, 2018
This issue features the latest in water research being conducted across faculties, disciplines and entities to help secure humanity’s most important resource for survival: Water.
In this issue:
- From ‘crisis’ to opportunity: Lessons from Cape Town’s water shortage
- Whose water is it anyway?
- The People’s Water Charter
- What makes waves in water crises?
This edition (and past ones) of Curiosity is available online here: https://www.wits.ac.za/curiosity/
Curiosity is a print and digital magazine that tells the stories of groundbreaking research through the voices of talented researchers, students and academics at the University of the Witwatersrand.
FROM BOSTON TO AUSTIN – 2 WITS LEADERS SPEAK, LATEST NEWSLETTER FROM WITS US REP
April 26, 2018
“My visit to Boston was to attend a talk given by Wits University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib. Prof Habib is currently on sabbatical at Harvard, working on a book. He took the sabbatical between his first and second terms as the VC, and Professor Tawana Kupe is acting VC during this time….
Prof Habib also remarked that the university experience in South Africa contributes to leadership development among students: “the real skill in leadership, is learning to navigate a world that is diverse, a more cosmopolitan world. How do you make the kinds of hard decisions that have to be made? How do you grapple with the political questions of our time? The reason the South African universities do well is because they are so diverse, so complex, that the landscape forces you to learn outside the classroom as much as you learn inside the classroom. Whether you’re on the soccer field or the cricket field, in the museum or the cafeteria, the fact that you have to navigate beyond race, beyond class, beyond religion, beyond culture, forces you to learn soft skills. It is the soft skills that transform you from a great professional to a great leader”.
In Austin, I joined some Texas Witsies to introduce them to the Wits Fund chairman of the Board, and Chairman and CEO of Henry Schein Inc., Mr. Stanley Bergman. We met for cocktails at a downtown Austin hotel, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting up and networking with each other. Mr. Bergman, himself a proud Wits graduate, talked about his relationship with the University, from the time he and his wife Dr Marion Bergman were students there in the 1970s, to losing touch, to being asked to help set up the Wits Fund, and to going back again in December 2016….”
Read more here.
WITS ROBOTICS RESEARCHER AWARDED AFRICA’S ONLY GRANT IN THE 2017 ROUND OF THE GOOGLE FACULTY RESEARCH AWARDS.
April 10, 2018
Dr Benjamin Rosman, a Senior Lecturer in the Wits School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, has been granted the award in the “Machine learning and data mining” category, Research at Google announced last week.
Rosman is a researcher in robotics, artificial intelligence, decision theory and machine learning. His proposal for the Google Faculty Research Awards was one of 1 033 Research at Google received from 46 countries and over 360 universities – making Rosman and Wits University the only African researcher and university among the recipients.
“I am extremely happy that my proposal has been accepted. My research focuses on decision making in autonomous systems. I am interested in how an artificial agent such as a robot can acquire skills and behaviours through learning, and transfer this knowledge to new situations,” Rosman said this week.
“It is exciting that Google acknowledges the tremendous technology leaps in machine learning and data mining research that is currently being conducted in Africa, and at Wits,” he added. In recent years the University has launched numerous research projects and collaborations, such as the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, where the next generation of scholars is developing new technologies and leading innovation in various fields related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Read more about these developments in the second issue of Wits’ new research magazine, Curiosity: iHuman.
CONGRATULATIONS TO DR ALAN WIDGEROW, WITS GRAD AND WINNER OF THE ICTS 2018 MENTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
April 5, 2018
The award announcement from the UC Irvine Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS) reads as follow:
“The Institute for Clinical and Translational Science is pleased to announce the 2018 Mentor of the Year. This award is given to an exceptional UC Irvine faculty who has shown an outstanding commitment to mentoring, advising, and support of clinical and translational science research.
Dr. Widgerow completed his undergraduate and post-graduate studies at the University of the Witwatersrand South Africa. He was the top surgical graduate at the University of Witwatersrand in 1989. He has held various positions in numerous academic and professional associations including that of President of the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive surgery of Southern Africa (APRSSA). He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and was appointed Honorary Professor by the Senate of Wits University in 1999. He is author of over 140 plastic surgical related publications and 2 books. He was editor-in-chief of Wound Healing Southern Africa from 2007-2016. His current fields of interests are medical device innovations, tissue engineering and wound healing. After 20 years in private plastic surgical practice in South Africa, Dr. Widgerow relocated to Irvine California in Dec 2009 to pursue his interests in medical device innovations, topical formulations and wound care, but he still plays an active role in academic surgery world-wide. Dr. Widgerow has developed and licensed multiple products to the US and South African markets and is currently Chief Medical Officer of ALASTIN Skincare, Inc.
In July 2012 he was appointed to the Faculty of the University of California Irvine Plastic Surgery Dept as Professor and Director of the Center for Tissue Engineering (CTE). At CTE, he has developed a multi-staffed laboratory and introduced multiple projects related to adipose derived stem cell functional analysis, adipose decellularized matrix utilization in a range of projects, nanobubble wound healing and transplantation investigation and burn wound mediator analysis. Under his direction, CTE has been awarded multiple grants, won numerous awards and has published widely in the past few years. He spends much of his time teaching and guiding students, both undergraduate and post-graduates. This he undertakes without salary but with great passion.”
WITS FINANCE GEEKS TAKE ON ETF INDUSTRY WITH SEXY NEW FUNDS
April 3, 2018
“Wits finance geeks have created sexy new funds designed to shake up the Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) industry. They have, together with Absa, developed a low volatility ETF and an ETF that aims to emulate the approach of Warren Buffett, possibly the world’s most successful investor. ETFs have grown in popularity globally as they are seen as a lower-cost alternative to funds that are managed by the highly paid rock stars of the investment world. Costs eat into returns, so the lower you can keep them, the better for long term gains.”
Read more here at BizNews.com
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Wits alumna and South African Icon, Passes Away
April 2, 2018
A towering figure in South African history has passed away, and tributes are pouring in for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She graduated from Wits University in 2005, having studied for, and obtained, her BA degree after having being denied equal education for most of her life, and after having greatly sacrificed on the path to a democratic South Africa.
STATEMENT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND ON THE PASSING OF MAMA WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA
Hamba kahle Mama Madikizela-Mandela: A political stalwart in her own right, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela gave of herself in the fight for gender equity and social justice.
The University of the Witwatersrand expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who passed away in Johannesburg this afternoon at the age of 81 after a long illness.
An activist and a leader at the forefront of the struggle for freedom, Mama Madikizela-Mandela did not hesitate to speak her mind, and to sacrifice her personal freedoms and her family, in the quest for the freedom and liberation of South Africans from Apartheid.
A political stalwart in her own right, Mama Madikizela-Mandela gave of herself in the fight for gender equity and social justice. She always made time to listen to young students and spent many hours offering them inspiration and hope over the years.
Mama Madikizela-Mandela was an alumnus of the University of the Witwatersrand and the flag above the Wits Great Hall will fly at half-mast in honour of her memory on Tuesday, 3 April 2018.. Various Wits constituencies will host events in memory of Mama Madikizela-Mandela in the coming days.
Hamba kahle Mama Madikizela-Mandela – Rest In Peace.
New African Centre to study the US
March 22, 2018: A new Centre at Wits University has been established to serve as an intellectual hub for the study of the United States.
Named the African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS), the Centre will generate new knowledge of the US in Africa and produce applied knowledge for different sectors. Wits University and partners held a conference to mark this development on 8 March 2018 at the Wits Club, Braamfontein Campus East.
Professor Tawana Kupe, Wits Acting Vice-Chancellor and Vice Principal said the Centre has been in the making for two years and fits with the University’s vision. The new Centre is aligned to the Wits Vision 2022, a strategic framework which aims to solidify the University’s position as a leading research intensive University.
“Part of the strategic objectives of ASCUS is to establish an African-based hub for critical thinking and analysis, create a vibrant multi and inter-disciplinary home for collegial and collaborative explorations,” says Professor Gilbert Khadiagala, Director of ACSUS. “Furthermore, we want to build strategic partnerships with think-tanks, civil society organisations and universities in Africa and the US and provide a base for visiting scholars researching and teaching in relevant areas,” adds Khadiagala.
The Bergman family, the US Embassy in South Africa and the Ford Foundation are some of the early supporters of the Centre. Speaking at the conference, Chargé d’Affaires Jessye Lapenn said that the US Mission to South Africa supports ACSUS because “Africa matters.”
She noted six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa and that progress towards opening markets for free trade and foreign investment has spurred economic growth, development, and tremendous opportunity across the continent. “The United States is very much engaged in Africa today and ACSUS will be a platform to develop the understanding that will advance both American and African priorities,” noted Lapenn.
Read more here.
WITS ORAL HEALTH SINKS ITS TEETH INTO WORLD ORAL HEALTH DAY ON 20 MARCH
The most common oral diseases, such as dental caries [tooth decay and cavities] and periodontal [gum] disease are amenable to prevention and yet they continue to affect the quality of life of individuals of all ages. Oral health is integral to general health; poor oral health affects general health and the well-being of individuals as a result of the pain and the disability it can cause. It affects the ability to speak, eat, and carry out daily activities. Evidence has shown dental caries to be associated with poor school performance amongst children.
In South Africa, over 60% of our primary school children suffer from dental decay. More concerning is that over 80% of these children remain untreated for the disease due to the overburdened oral health system and poor health-seeking behavior. In terms of the elderly residing in Johannesburg, the prevalence of missing teeth is 85% and approximately 33% of these people are edentulous [lacking teeth] and in need of dentures [removal artificial teeth].
THE FIRST EVER PUBLIC DIPLOMACY CONFERENCE IN AFRICA IS AT WITS UNIVERSITY
March 8-9, 2018
Wits University’s new African Center for the Study of the United States is collaborating with the Center on Public Diplomacy based at the University of Southern California for the first ever public diplomacy conference in Africa.
The conference aims to serve as a launch of the first Public Diplomacy Project in Africa and develop a vision and mission for the project. Support has been received from Brand South Africa, University of Southern California, USA, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the Washington DC-based Public Diplomacy Council, The United States Embassy in South Africa, Global Ties Network (US and South Africa).
Read more here.
JOHN TEEGER – WITS FUND PRESIDENT – VISITS WITS 50 YEARS AFTER GRADUATING
Recently my wife Reina and I visited the Wits main campus in Johannesburg (better known as Jozi today!) after a many-year-hiatus. It was Friday December 15, 2017: the date is important, as any alumnus worth his salt knows, as in South Africa most business activity, especially on campus, stops after the second Friday in December for several weeks. December 16 marks the public holiday Day of Reconciliation, formerly Day of the Covenant, formerly Dingaans Day … interesting how the history of a country can be traced by the names of its public holidays!
For me it was not just a pleasure trip down memory lane: I am the President of the Wits Fund headquartered in New York, and a registered charitable institution under Regulation 501(c)(3) of the US tax code. In order to meet US Revenue requirements, my job includes conducting due diligence to ensure that funds raised in the US are spent appropriately by Wits. By encouraging and providing financial support to Wits, we believe we are assisting South Africa to become a mature and thriving democracy.
The first surprise was a literal fire drill – the alarms went off as we entered the administrative building and, contrary to the normal practice worldwide of ignoring the warning, this time we joined about 200 Wits employees scampering from the building and hanging out in the outdoor quadrangle – an unplanned “Pleased to Meet You” welcome for overseas visitors—False Alarm—back to work.
Tawana Kupe, the Vice Principal (the Wits Number 2, or Chief Operating Officer in US corporate parlance) and Peter Bezuidenhoudt, VP of Development, responded to my due diligence inquiries, and necessary paper work, and then it was on to the campus tour.
Changes in 50 years – wow—here are just a few for a quick perspective:
- Previously 6,000 students, now 38,000.
- There are now 4,700 academic staff, spread across 5 faculties!
- Before, as an accounting student I remember car cruising the campus even up to the steps of the Main Hall – no more – now its stop at the gate, and parking extremely limited.
- Then, the old main campus was bounded by Jan Smuts Avenue and Yale, De Korte and Empire roads. Now, it is three times larger including the whole of the former Rand Easter showgrounds and several tentacles into Braamfontein.
The guided tour by Peter B blew us away:
- The Wits Art Museum is located at the old Lawsons corner, former filling station and SA’s premier Volvo Agency – Leslie Cohen and Julia Charlton, senior staff of WAM, guided us around the architecturally-stunning building, showed us the permanent collection, many pieces of which are in storage through space limitations, and the current exhibition, a unique collection of disturbing photos demonstrating the harsh impact on humanity of floods worldwide.
- Professor Bruce Rubidge, head of the Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences, showed us around the world’s largest active research lab and permanent museum examining recent finds of hominid skeletons. Wits is a leader in this research, a huge addition to the late Professor Philip Tobias’ discoveries at Sterkfontein in the fifties and sixties.
- At its just completed open-plan incubator suite in Braamfontein called Tshimologong, Wits provides gifted engineers, students from other faculties and schools, as well as other talented unemployed youth, facilities to research and develop new applications of technology. It shares the building and ideas with the 13th global IBM Research Lab – the first in Africa – a great partnership.
We rounded off our visit with a late lunch on campus with Peter Maher, VP of Alumni Affairs and the editor of the outstanding WITSReview which is published quarterly. As you can read in the pages of the magazine, Peter is very knowledgeable about Wits and is full of ideas for capitalizing on its strengths and long history as the leading university on the African continent.
To appreciate Wits, consider what would the country be like without it.
Was I surprised by my visit 50 years later ? – Absolutely.
Am I pleased to be so surprised? – Absolutely!
President The University of the Witwatersrand Fund, Inc.
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