Prof Deresh Ramjugernath has officially taken up his position as the new Deputy
Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching at Stellenbosch University (SU).
In an interview with SU's Corporate Communication and Marketing Division, Prof Ramjugernath said he was “very excited to join the ranks of one of the leading higher education institutions on the African continent" and looking forward to welcoming students for the new academic year.
“The return to campus brings huge responsibility for all. All of us will have to ensure that we do our best to comply and adhere with all health and safety protocols so that there is minimal risk and a conducive environment for all within our university community," he said. “The pandemic is not in any way behind us, and we will have to endure for some time to come until we have seen the roll-out of an effective and comprehensive vaccination programme."
While mindful of the challenges of living and functioning with the pandemic, Prof Ramjugernath remains positive about the academic year ahead: “We are looking forward to welcoming our students for the new academic year within the constraints of a 'new normal'. We know that it will be a highly fulfilling and exciting journey, both academically and socially, at one of the best institutions on the continent."
Ramjugernath is a pre-eminent scientist in the field of chemical engineering in general, and chemical thermodynamics and separation technology in particular. He studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and obtained the degrees BSc Eng (Chemical) in 1993, MSc Eng (Chemical), which was upgraded to a PhD, in 1995, and a PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2000.
He has successfully graduated over 130 master's and PhD students, and supervised over 20 postdoctoral fellows. Ramjugernath has also published in excess of 350 peer-reviewed journal articles and presented more than 300 papers at international conferences.
He held the chair in fluorine process engineering and separation technology – part of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)/National Research Foundation (NRF) South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) – until 2018. The new vice-rector has also received various national and international awards and is a member of a number of industry and academic bodies, including the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS).
Over the years, he held various positions at UKZN. These include deputy vice-chancellor of research, pro-vice-chancellor of innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurship, assistant dean of engineering, as well as head of the School of Chemical Engineering.
Ramjugernath believes that higher education institutions have a crucial and significant part to play in contributing to social and economic development nationally, and to be leading global producers of knowledge.
“As a nation, we currently face many challenges with regard to social and economic upliftment of our citizens, and in moving the country to prosperity for all. Universities need to play a more significant role in addressing these challenges and having a direct impact on society. The values instilled in our students and staff, and their entire campus experience while at university, must not just help them function effectively at, and identify with, the institution, but should also equip them to engage with society at large and contribute to social cohesion and nation building."
Photo by Anton Jordaan.