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Stay Connected: Maties Alumni Relations and the Convocation at SU Connected: Maties Alumni Relations and the Convocation at SUDevelopment & Alumni Relations<div>​<em>​​​T</em><em>he Stellenbosch University (SU) Convocation will gather for an extraordinary meeting on Thursday 1 June – in person at the Bloemhof Girls High School in Stellenbosch and online globally, but you will need to register to attend. Two motions (<strong style="text-decoration:underline;"><a href="/english/donors/Documents/Motion%201_Dr%20L%20van%20Rhyn.pdf">Motion 1</a> </strong>and <strong style="text-decoration:underline;"><a href="/english/donors/Documents/Mosie%202_Mnr%20DG%20Ras.pdf">Motion 2</a></strong>) are expected to be heard at the meeting, which will require your vote. </em><em>As an alumnus, it's important for you to understand the significance of Alumni Relations at SU and the role of the Convocation. <strong>Karen Bruns, Senior Director: Development and Alumni Relations (DAR)</strong>, writes:</em></div><p><em> </em></p><p>At Stellenbosch University, we believe in fostering a caring and global community of Maties. The mission of DAR is to provide resources that keep you involved, informed, and connected with the university. Through various initiatives, we offer you opportunities to expand your network, engage with fellow alumni, and support the future sustainability of this University.<br></p><p><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Why Stay Connected</span></p><p>Remaining connected with your alma mater holds several benefits. Herewith a few of these benefits:</p><ol><li><strong>Joining a Global Network</strong>: As a SU alum, you become part of an international network of alumni with similar educational backgrounds, diverse perspectives, and growing connections. Toast your transition from student to Matie alumnus/alumna at our Alumni Clubhouse at Coetzenburg and embrace the power of a vast and supportive network.</li><li><strong>Seizing Opportunities:</strong> Our network, programmes, and platforms provide a gateway to seizing opportunities even after graduation. Connect with fellow alumni, tap into our resources, and unlock pathways to success in your chosen field.</li><li><strong>Shaping the Future:</strong> Participating in our alumni engagement programmes allows you to play a vital role in shaping the future of SU. By supporting students, becoming an ambassador of the university, and sharing your knowledge and experiences, you contribute to the growth and development of future generations.</li><li><strong>Specialised Networks:</strong> We offer specialised networks to cater to the unique interests of our alumni. For example, SWAN (Stellenbosch Women Alumnae Network) brings together outstanding Matie women through mentorship, leadership programmes, round-table discussions, and more. Additionally, our Matie Alumni Wine Club connects wine enthusiasts and cultivates a community within our alumni network.</li><li><strong>Affinity with Residences and Academic Departments:</strong> Many alumni feel a strong affinity toward their former residences or academic departments. DAR encourages and supports engagement between alumni and these entities, fostering connections, knowledge sharing, and industry outreach.</li><li><strong>Maties in Sports:</strong> Alumni engagement is crucial for university sports departments. DAR collaborates with Maties Sport to keep alumni engaged by sharing insights, supporting student athletes, attending sports events and reunions, coaching, mentoring, and fundraising.</li></ol><p><span style="text-decoration:underline;">​​Convocation: Voicing Your Concerns and Ideas</span></p><p>The Convocation serves as a platform for SU alumni to express their opinions, share ideas, and contribute to the direction and future of the institution. As defined in the Institutional Statute, the Convocation aims to promote a mutually beneficial relationship between the university and its members. By advising the Council and Senate, the Convocation plays a vital role in shaping the university's welfare. <a href="/english/management/Documents/Institutionele-Reels-Konvokasie-Insitutional-Rules-Convocation.pdf" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong>CLICK HERE for the institutional rules</strong></a> that govern the Convocation. </p><p><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Who is the Convocation?</span></p><p>You! The Convocation includes all university graduates, academic staff, and former full-time academic staff who have reached retirement age. To ensure effective communication, it is essential to update your contact details with the Alumni Office. Membership on the Convocation allows you to vote and receive important notices.</p><p><span style="text-decoration:underline;">The Convocation Executive Committee</span></p><p>The Executive Committee, comprising of five elected representatives, oversees the Convocation's operations, acting as a bridge between the Convocation membership and the management of the university. These dedicated members hold office for three years and actively contribute to the Convocation's activities. Elections for the new Executive Committee take place in November 2023.</p><p><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Roles within the Executive Committee</span></p><p>The President and Vice-President convene annual and extraordinary Convocation meetings, while the Secretary maintains records and communicates with Convocation members. There are also two additional member seats on the Exco.</p><p><span style="text-decoration:underline;">The Convocation's Impact</span></p><p>The Convocation serves as an advisory body to the Council and the Institutional Forum. As a Convocation member, you can provide advice, nominate individuals for positions, and elect representatives to these governing bodies. By participating in the Convocation, you have the opportunity to influence important decisions concerning equity policies, management selection, and the overall institutional culture.</p><p><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Conclusion</span></p><p>As a valued member of our alumni community, staying connected with Stellenbosch University is an enriching experience that enables you to shape the future of our institution, support fellow Maties, embrace opportunities, build valuable networks, and remain engaged with our vibrant community. </p><p>Through DAR and the Convocation, we invite you to join us in making a positive impact. Update your contact details, get involved, and continue your journey as a proud Matie alumnus/alumna. In partnership with our university, let's celebrate our shared legacy and forge new paths of success.<br></p><ul><li>​Please contact <strong style="text-decoration:underline;">convocation</strong><strong style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong><strong>@</strong>s</strong></strong> for more information; or to register for the extraordinary meeting. ​</li></ul><p>​<br></p>
Tygerberg at forefront of surgical training with da Vinci robot at forefront of surgical training with da Vinci robotFMHS Marketing & Communications / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie – Sue Segar<p>​The future of advanced surgical operations undoubtedly lies in technology, and increasingly in using robotics for complicated surgical procedures. Therefore, it was a big moment for the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (FMHS) when, in February 2022, the first operation using the newly acquired da Vinci Xi robot was performed at Tygerberg Hospital. <br></p><p>Since then, dozens more operations have been successfully completed using this highly sophisticated system.<br></p><p>The da Vinci Xi is the most advanced surgical robot in Africa and one of only a few such robots in use on the African continent. It allows surgeons to operate remotely, using four dexterous “arms", and is controlled in real time via an immersive 3D console.<br></p><p>Tygerberg's acquisition of the da Vinci Xi robot means that public sector patients have access to the best surgical technology available anywhere in the world.<br></p><p><strong>Training programme</strong></p><p>In tandem with acquiring the robot, the FMHS developed a robotics training programme, with the aim of upskilling hospital surgeons and senior trainees in the use of modern surgical systems across multiple disciplines.<br></p><p>Dr Tim Forgan, colorectal surgeon at Tygerberg Hospital and a lecturer at the FMHS, said the availability of the robot offers a valuable opportunity to show how a state hospital can function at a very high level.<br></p><p>“Surgery is progressing rapidly on the high-tech front, making it safer and more efficient. Tygerberg already has some of the most advanced minimally invasive surgical skills in the country at its disposal, so being able to promptly apply these skills to the robot is very beneficial for patients and substantiates the reputation of Stellenbosch University for producing excellent surgeons," he said.<br></p><p>Forgan led the surgical team at Tygerberg who performed the first robotic gastro-intestinal surgery procedure at a South African public hospital, when they removed a cancerous rectal tumour from a patient. He said the robotic system means public sector patients “will be able to return to their previous lives that much sooner".</p><p>The system is being used across multiple platforms – in general surgery, urology, and gynaecology – offering wide-ranging procedures.<br></p><p>“The robot arrived at the hospital in October 2021. We set up a robotic training programme, as there is a steep learning curve for trainees to learn to use these machines," Forgan explained.<br></p><p>Training relating to the robot consists of three phases: firstly, developing basic coordination and skills; then in-service training on how to use the robot; and lastly hands-on surgical training.<br></p><p>“Once the trainees have been through these phases, they are accredited as robotic surgeons. Each branch of surgery has its own requirements for the number of cases to be done before the surgeons are accredited."<br></p><p>According to Forgan a new case has been done every week since the first operation with the robot. “For us, it has been an incremental development in our skills. We have been doing laparoscopic surgery in our department for 30 years and the robotic process uses similar techniques, with nicer tools. It is a natural evolution in our skill set."<br></p><p>Forgan said the integration of robotics to enable minimally invasive surgery is becoming more and more commonplace. “As it does, the price will come down, so access will be improved. Hopefully this kind of surgery will become the norm, resulting in better patient outcomes.<br></p><p>“Our goal is to improve the quality of our surgery, with the aim of better results and, in the long term, to expand this to more and more patients and more and more branches of surgery or patient care."<br></p><p><strong>'Incredible benefits for patients'</strong></p><p>Prof Elmin Steyn, Head of the FMHS' Department of Surgical Sciences, said the acquisition of the robot has put Tygerberg Hospital at the forefront of surgical training in South Africa and Africa.<br></p><p>She stressed that the colorectal team had already been performing advanced surgical techniques and were well prepared when the robot arrived. “The robot enables us to showcase the capabilities of a state hospital and enhances subspecialist training at the FMHS.<br></p><p>“As surgeons, we are so excited when we get new toys – and of course they bring incredible benefits for patients too. The fact that patients are discharged earlier is good for the state hospital system and much more cost-effective, but the real benefit lies in risk reduction and potentially improved surgical clearance of cancer tissue," she added. <br></p><p>“It is a huge privilege to have this equipment and we are highly aware of the responsibility to make the best possible use of it, training as many people and benefitting as many patients as we can."<br></p><p><br></p><p><em>Photo caption: Prof Elmin Steyn and Dr Tim Forgan at the Da Vinci theatre at Tygerberg Hospital.</em><br></p><p><em>Photo credit: Damien Schumann</em><br></p>
Initiative highlights importance for self-care for mental health highlights importance for self-care for mental healthFMHS Marketing & Communications / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie <p>​The mental health and wellbeing of health care workers were put under the spotlight during a recent event at <a href="/english/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Stellenbosch University</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">'s</strong> (SU) <strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""><a href="/english/faculty/healthsciences/">Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences</a></strong> (FMHS).<br></p><p>The half-day workshop, jointly hosted by SU's <strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""><a href="/english/faculty/healthsciences/paediatrics-and-child-health/Pages/Home.aspx">Departments of Paediatrics and Child Health</a></strong><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="">, </span><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""><a href="/english/faculty/healthsciences/psychiatry/Pages/default.aspx">Psychiatry</a></strong> and <strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""><span style="">Clinical Psycholog</span>y</span></a></strong>, was the first of its kind to be held in the seminar facilities at the brand new, state-of-the-art<span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""> </span><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><a href="/english/faculty/healthsciences/biomedical-research-institute/Pages/default.aspx"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="">Biomedical Research Institute</span>​</a></strong> at the FMHS.</p><p>The workshop came about when Dr Deepthi Raju Abraham, who serves as Chair of Health and Wellness for the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, became aware of mental health challenges faced by personnel in the department. In collaboration with colleagues from the Departments of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, the idea for the mental health and wellness workshop was conceived.</p><p>“We hope to spread awareness, support and nurture, and recommend that this venture be hosted and enjoyed by many other departments as well in an effort to pursue mental health and wellness among our faculty and hospital joint staff," says Abraham, a paediatric rheumatologist with the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health.</p><p>The workshop was presented by Dr Debra (Debbie) Alexander, a clinical psychologist and former Executive Head of the Department of Clinical Psychology. She currently holds the position of Extraordinary Senior Lecturer and is the programme coordinator of the MPhil in Mindfulness offered by the Department of Psychiatry. The concept of mindfulness was also a central theme of the workshop she presented. </p><p>“The intention of the workshop was to give participants an opportunity to 'press pause' in their busy lives and to focus the spotlight of attention on themselves," says Alexander. “The message I wanted to get across was that the first step in taking care of others, is self-care.</p><p>The workshop provided opportunities for introspection in relation to health, well-being and self-care in the context of our busy lives, pressures, stressors and competing demands. Participants were reminded of the many ways in which they could nurture and nourish themselves and were given an opportunity to explore a variety of formal and informal mindfulness practices. </p><p>According to Dr Kerry Louw, a senior lecturer with the Department of Psychiatry, mental health issues among health care workers are widespread and well documented. “Health care workers face overwhelming challenges in their work environments that put them at increased risk for mental health problems, including burnout, depression, anxiety, substance use disorder and suicide," says Louw.</p><p>“Rates of physician burnout have been shown to be twice that of other professionals and a pre-pandemic systematic review found prevalence rates of physician burnout as high as 80% in some studies. Of concern is that physicians also have one of the highest rates of suicide of any profession," she continues. </p><p>Furthermore, health professionals are less likely to seek and access help because of stigma, fear of repercussions, being trained to cope alone and a survival mentality. “There has always been an expectation in society that health care workers will put the needs of patients and society first and have the answer to complex problems, and in the time of Covid-19 there was an even stronger hero narrative in the media placing increased pressure on health care workers to cope and put the needs of others first," says Louw.<br></p><p><br></p><p><em>​Caption: Dr Debbie Alexander (left) and participants at the wellness workshop (right).</em><br></p>
Stellenbosch University statement: The correct facts University statement: The correct factsCorporate Communication and Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking<p>​​​​With reference to recent articles pertaining to Stellenbosch alumni and the Stellenbosch University (SU) Convocation, as well as a statement circulated by the Executive Committee of the Convocation, SU must point out various factual errors. <br></p><p>It is important to note that the University's alumni differ from the Stellenbosch University Convocation. Alumni include everyone who studied at the University up to the second year of study. The Convocation is composed of: (a) all persons on whom a qualification has  been conferred at a congregation of the University; (b) the rector, the vice-rectors, chief operating officer and the full-time academic staff of the University; and (c) former full-time academic staff of the University who have left the service of the University on account of their having reached a retirement age. </p><p>According to the University's <a href="">Statute</a>, the objective of the Convocation – and thus also of the Executive Committee of the Convocation – is to “promote the welfare of the University by maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship between the University and the members of the Convocation, and may advise the Council, and the Senate when applicable, in this respect." The Convocation is part of the SU community. It is not a separate legal entity and cannot litigate against the University.</p><p>The Statute further states that the Executive Committee of the Convocation helps the Convocation achieve its objective and perform its function. It gives effect to decisions of the Convocation. </p><p>The University points out that the Executive Committee of the Convocation did not consult with the Convocation before distributing its statement as referred to in the abovementioned article.<br></p><p>It is further incorrect to state that the Convocation has reached a decision to bring a motion as this has not taken place. The Convocation needs to give the Executive Committee of the Convocation the authority to do so.</p><p>Based on this, an employee cannot make a decision on distribution of the statement, and when the request by the Executive Committee of the Convocation was escalated, the Rectorate did not regard it as prudent to distribute a statement to the Convocation that did not follow the required process. Of note is that the statement was distributed to Council members. </p><p>The Executive Committee of the Convocation consists of 5 people: the President of the Convocation who serves as Chairperson at meetings of the Convocation; the Vice-President who serves as Chairperson at the meetings of the Convocation in the absence of the President; the Secretary of the Convocation; and two members elected as set out in 3.2  in the Procedure for the nomination and election of the Executive Committee of the Convocation​.<br></p><p><strong>Additional salient facts to note:</strong> <br></p><ul><li>There are more than 230 000 SU alumni. In this instance it would, at most, be the five members of the Executive Committee of the Convocation that may have indicated that they are “up in arms" as referred to in media reports. For that matter it also cannot be the SU​ Convocation, as they have not met and have taken no decision prior to the release of this statement by the Executive Committee of the Convocation.</li><li>For the above reasons it also cannot be the U​​​niversity's alumni, who were “unable to distribute the motion" as also referred to in reports - it was the Executive Committee of the Convocation who wanted their statement distributed. </li><li>Also, there is no motion of “no confidence" by the Convocation. Members of the Executive Committee of the Convocation called for the resignation of the Vice-Chancellor.</li><li>The Executive Committee of the Convocation is not in a position to give an “official instruction" to the University to distribute the statement. The SU Statute and the institutional rules for the Convocation – both available on the University's website – set out the ​role and mandate of the Convocation and the Executive Committee of the Convocation.</li><li>The “internal circular to staff last week confirming the admission of a second relative under the discretionary programme" was distributed by the University and not by the acting chair of Council, Dr Nicky Newton-King. </li><li>With regards​ to a sentence in a News24 article, “Earlier this week, News24 reported that a second family member had been placed at the university without De Villiers disclosing it to the council", the University points out that it was Rector and Vice-Chancellor who has drawn the attention of members of the Executive Committee of Council to the fact that he used his discretion under the same policy and Discretionary Placement Guidelines to place another relative earlier in a programme at SU. </li><li>The SU Statute is available <a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;">here</a>.<br></li><li>The institutional rules for the Convocation is available <a href="/english/management/Documents/Institutionele-Reels-Konvokasie-Insitutional-Rules-Convocation.pdf" style="text-decoration:underline;">here</a>.<br>​<br></li></ul>
Leading-edge Biomedical Research Institute a 'game changer' for healthcare in Africa Biomedical Research Institute a 'game changer' for healthcare in Africa Corporate Communication and Marketing Division / Afdeling Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking<p>​The launch of its new state-of-the-art Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI) places Stellenbosch University (SU) at the forefront of biomedical sciences on the African continent. <br></p><p>The BMRI is a world-class biomedical research complex on par with the best in the world and is unparalleled, not only on the African continent, but the entire southern hemisphere, in terms of its cutting-edge facilities and extensive research capacity. </p><p>The BMRI, situated on SU's Tygerberg Campus in Cape town, is being inaugurated over the next week.</p><p>“The realisation of the BMRI resonates with SU's vision of being Africa's leading research-intensive university with the objective of being globally recognised for our excellence in innovation to advance knowledge in service of society," says Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor.</p><p>The facility houses more than 500 biomedical researchers and students, including some of the world's foremost scientists in the fields of bioinformatics, tuberculosis, neuroscience, and urology. The leading-edge research emanating from the facility has a decidedly African focus and seeks to understand the genetic and biomolecular basis of diseases afflicting South Africa and the rest of the African continent.</p><p>“Scientists at the BMRI conduct research that translates into discoveries that help improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of illnesses affecting the people of South Africa and the rest of Africa," says Prof Nico Gey van Pittius, Vice Dean: Research and Internationalisation of SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), where the BMRI is based.</p><p>Construction of this R1,2 billion facility (approximately US$ 66 million) commenced in 2018 and was completed in 2023 – despite major challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The planning and design of this multifaceted complex followed a future-focussed approach resulting in a high-performance research hub that is modular, functional and sustainable. </p><p>The BMRI boasts numerous state-of-the-art laboratories, including the largest (600m<sup>2</sup>) biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory and fully-automated biorepository in Africa, lecture and conference theatres equipped with the latest audio-visual technology, and large modern dissection halls custom-engineered to minimise formaldehyde exposure. The BMRI was also awarded a 4-star rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa.</p><p>“The research conducted in the BMRI builds on SU's commitment to impactful research which takes into account the natural environment, health, human security as well as systems and technologies for the future. At the heart of our scientific endeavours, is the challenge to be locally relevant and globally competitive," says Prof Sibusiso Moyo, SU Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies.</p><p>The immense value of the BMRI was recognised even before its completion in 2023, and high-profile visitors, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, came to view the facility in 2022. The facility's potential was further endorsed when SU's Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI), located in the BMRI, was selected by the WHO as a partner-member of the first Covid mRNA Vaccine Technology Transfer Hub.</p><p>“The investment in the BMRI will allow significant human capacity development through training some of the best students from the continent and exposing them to extensive national and international research networks to results in a next generation of successful scientists," says Prof Elmi Muller, FMHS Dean. “The BMRI will be a game changer for healthcare in Africa and is true evidence of using breakthrough science to improve lives."</p><p> </p><p><strong>MORE ABOUT THE BMRI</strong></p><ul><li>The BMRI is the largest and most sophisticated research complex of its kind on the African continent and in the southern hemisphere.</li><li>Apart from the facilities mentioned above, the BMRI also hosts:</li><ul><li>A Bioinformatics hub;</li><li>Electron microscopy laboratories;</li><li>Proteomics and flow cytometry services (FACS) laboratories;</li><li>A Medical Morphological Learning Centre;</li><li>The Sunskill laboratory; and</li><li>Clinical research facilities.</li></ul><li>At 600m<sup>2</sup>, the BMRI hosts the largest biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory facilities on the African continent. BSL-3 laboratories are used to study infectious agents or toxins that may be transmitted through the air and cause potentially lethal infections. BSL-3 laboratories are designed to be easily decontaminated. </li><li>A system of negative air pressure keeps hazardous fumes or airborne toxins from flowing out of laboratories and into adjacent areas. A powerful ventilation and filtration plant continuously draw air out of laboratories and to the top of the building, where it is filtered and released.</li><li>The BMRI boasts advanced energy recovery technology fitted to the air system that reduces the building's carbon footprint compared to other similar buildings.</li></ul><p> </p><p><em>Click </em><a href="/english/faculty/healthsciences/biomedical-research-institute/Pages/Groups.aspx"><em>here</em></a><em> for more information on the research being conducted at the BMRI.</em></p><p><em>Click </em><a href="/english/Lists/Events/DispForm.aspx?ID=5476"><em>here</em></a><em> for more information about the BMRI launch activities taking place over the next week.</em></p><ul><li><em>Click </em><a href="/english/faculty/healthsciences/biomedical-research-institute/Pages/Resources.aspx#GB"><em>here</em></a><em> for a link to photos, videos and soundbites</em></li></ul><p><em><br></em></p><p> </p><p> </p><p>​<br></p>
New Director of Fundraising ready to advance SU Director of Fundraising ready to advance SUDevelopment & Alumni Relations<p>​​David Marupen, the newly-appointed Director of Fundraising in Stellenbosch University's Development and Alumni Relations Division (DAR) has more than 25 years of experience in the field of fundraising. This, coupled with a commitment to building strategic partnerships and a passion for higher education, mentoring and uplifting communities, has him all set to work side by side with Karen Bruns, Senior Director of DAR, to advance the University's fundraising mission.<br></p><p>Marupen took up this position in January 2023, and comes with a wealth of knowledge honed in various positions within the fundraising arena. His career in fundraising started at the former Technikon Pretoria (now the Tshwane University of Technology), where he was the executive director of the Institutional Advancement Office. He then moved on to the University of Fort Hare, where he served as chief executive officer of the foundation responsible for overseeing all institutional fundraising activities. During this time, he also served as chairperson of the board of the Miriam Makeba Performance Arts Centre and as a member of the board of the Hunterstoun Academic Retreat Centre in Hogsback.</p><p>His journey in the higher education sector continued in the position of senior development officer at the University of Johannesburg’s Advancement Office. For the last five years before joining SU, he was the deputy director of the Resource Mobilisation Centre at the University of Limpopo.</p><p>He also held the position of fundraiser for the Financial Services Consumer Education Foundation of the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, director of fundraising and new business development at LoveLife and acting manager of marketing, communications and fundraising at Johannesburg Child Welfare. "I currently also serve on the board of the Morongwa Foundation, which focuses on improving the lives of marginalised communities," he adds.</p><p>So, why the move to Stellenbosch? Marupen, born and raised in Pretoria, says that this is due to the good reputation of Stellenbosch University’s academic, research and social impact offering. "The institution is intent on improving access to higher education for students, especially those with financial needs. SU is also strategic in building relationships with various partners and stakeholders to advance its mission. This mission, among others, aims to enrich and transform local, continental and global communities."</p><p>As he is joining a well-established team of successful fundraisers, Marupen believes that he will have his work cut out for him. "I am convinced that my experience gained over the years will positively impact the fundraising team and the broader DAR, by complementing the great work achieved thus far, but also ensuring that donor income is increased."</p><p>According to Marupen, fundraising is never an easy task, and it demands a systematic approach, commitment, discipline and a passion for the profession.</p><p>"Having worked with different teams over the years has shown me that teamwork, cross-functional support, and development within the division is required. This is an area that will receive my attention. I will create an optimal working environment that encourages teamwork, professional development, and shared responsibility for both success and failure. I will also focus on diversifying the existing donor base and tapping into institutions that can provide philanthropic grants to the University. The aim is to attract support for different projects that fall within the four fundraising thematic areas; which are student access and success, research, social justice, and infrastructure development."</p><p>Marupen, who comes from a family of teachers and also taught for years early in his career, believes in sharing knowledge and empowering the next generation. "I plan to mentor and coach aspiring fundraisers to become competent and skilled in the art of attracting funding. It is important that they learn to navigate through the difficulty of building authentic relationships that leads to long-term, sustainable partnerships and support."</p><p>He concludes, "I am excited and look forward to working with my esteemed SU colleagues to advance the goals and ideals of the institution as it strives towards further growth and sustainability." ​</p>
Stellenbosch University celebrates Earth Day 2023 with a two-day long exhibition at Jan Mouton University celebrates Earth Day 2023 with a two-day long exhibition at Jan MoutonPetro Mostert<p>​​​​We celebrate Earth Day on 22 April 2023, and Stellenbosch University will start commemorating early with an environmental sustainability expo at the Jan Mouton building on 13-14 April 2023.<br></p><p>The SU Environmental Sustainability Expo 2023 aims to broaden the campus conversations around environmental sustainability,  promote the SU Environmental Sustainability Plan, create engagement opportunities about the Net Zero Carbon campaign, and pioneer an annual campus event as part of global Earth Day events.</p><p>As part of the event, Prof Guy Midgley, Acting Director at our School for Climate Studies and world-renowned climate change researcher, will be doing a talk on How to Avoid Climate Disaster: An African View, tying with Earth Day's call to action: Invest in our planet. As part of the talk, he will demonstrate a dashboard that you can use to see how different interventions will impact climate action with different scenarios.</p><p>The exhibitors include environments within SU engaging in the climate change conversations, such as SU Facilities Management, the SDG/2063 Impact Hub dealing with the Sustainable Development Agendas of both the UN and AU at SU, The School for Climate Change, EcoMaties, the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), and companies helping SU to get to a net zero campus, such as Alveo, CRSES, Wasteplan, GBCSA, and others. <br></p><p>Join the SU community in pledging to reduce our carbon footprint and automatically enter a lucky draw.</p><p>Various tours and activities are also planned for the week of  17 April 2023.</p><p>There is an opportunity on Friday, 14 April, between 11:00 – 13:00 for SU staff and students to join us for an informal conversation about furthering the sustainability conversation across faculties and departments. Several panellists will participate in this session, share some of their research, and illustrate how they incorporate sustainability into their work.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Expo Dates</strong>: Thursday & Friday, 13-14 April, 11:00 – 14:00</p><p><strong>Venue</strong>: Jan Mouton building 2<sup>nd</sup> and 3rd-floor foyers<br><br></p><p>It is essential to RSVP for Prof Midgley's talk (13 April 12:30 to 13:30)– either to attend in-person or online: We will stream the lecture from the Jan Mouton Learning Centre. <a href="">Register here</a></p><p> For queries, contact:</p><p>Christine Groenewald at <a href=""></a> or 084 270 4489<br></p><p><br></p>
SUNFin team ready to go live in July 2023 team ready to go live in July 2023Petro Mostert<p>​Stellenbosch University (SU) will soon have a new financial system. The SUNFin project has reached its final phase before going live in July this year. A comprehensive testing period is nearing its end, vital to ensuring a successful cloud implementation of Oracle Cloud Financials (OCF).  <br></p><p>“The SUNFin team – consisting of people from many SU divisions and external partners - has done a tremendous job of keeping this critical project on track. In addition to the seamless execution of the normal tasks of the Finance Division, they gave a lot of extra hours to ensure that we reach our milestones," said Prof Stan du Plessis, SU's Chief Operating Officer. </p><p>“This is the single biggest system SU has ever implemented. It is a wonderful example of a project that is future-focused and solution-orientated. It required us to review our processes and consider their effectiveness and relevance. It also allowed us to address internal complexity with a modern cloud-based solution. This is how we unlock the productivity gains of digitalisation in our business processes," said Du Plessis.</p><p>Since cloud implementation projects are evolutionary and integrated, SUNFin must undergo a comprehensive testing phase. “The SUNFin project reached a significant milestone when they commenced their User Acceptance Testing (UAT) phase. Over the next few weeks, we will complete the UAT phase and begin user training from May onwards," said Manie Lombard, Chief Director: Finance.</p><p>Lombard said the training phase will now commence, coordinated by Lizzy de Beer, Deputy Director: Financial Systems Support and Training, in collaboration with the SUNFin training team; the latter comprises the respective Subject Matter Expert (SME) of each business module and their super users and core finance support. Training will follow a carefully developed training schedule. It will take place in various formats and areas: one-on-one sessions, focus groups, and interactive question-and-answer sessions are a few methods the training team will use to ensure all users are equipped and able to use the financial system optimally and independently.</p><p>“From a technology point of view, this is our first Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) cloud solution whereby we are leading with cutting-edge technology being implemented in a university of our complexity and size. This is a giant leap we have made on the technology front," said Denisha Jairam-Owthar, SU's Chief Director: Information Technology.<br></p><p>As part of the SUNFin roll-out, a permanent user support desk will be established and managed by Brendon Grindlay-Whieldon, SUNFin Business Owner. Together with website support, his team will offer help when needed. As part of the support desk, there will also be technical support from the IT team, who will be responsible for the operational and technical support of OCF.  </p><p>Over the next few months, regular communication via SUNFin newsletters, SU's website, and social media channels will inform future users of the new financial system at SU about training schedules, implementation processes, and go-live roll-out deadlines. A special email address for SUNFin – <a href=""></a> – is available for staff with questions on the project. Please give 48 hours for the SUNFin team to respond.</p><p>​<br></p>
Doctoral study examines advantages of the use of plain language study examines advantages of the use of plain language Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​When confronted with financial, medical, legal and public documents that influence your life, you want them to be comprehensible and clear. If such documents are written in plain language, it would be so much easier to read and understand them and to then make informed decisions. <br></p><p>This is the opinion of Dr Annie Burger, who received her PhD in Afrikaans and Dutch on Monday 27 March 2023 at one of Stellenbosch University's (SU) March graduation ceremonies. The title of her thesis was “The link between contextual and outer textual factors and the efficient application of plain language". </p><p>For her PhD, Burger, a postdoctoral research fellow in SU's Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, studied the characteristics of readers (e.g. income, qualification level, home language, and the extent to which they felt the documents provide useful information), as well as the context (financial, medical and legal contexts) of plain language documents. </p><p>She analysed existing plain language documents such as brochures about the Consumer Protection Act, an information sheet on how to care for a baby, as well as a financial form. She also used online questionnaires completed by respondents to gather data. </p><p>Burger points out that plain language is prescribed by South African legislation (such as the Consumer Protection Act) for public documents to ensure that the target reading group is considered. </p><p>“It is also generally used in financial, medical and legal contexts, for instance in forms to be completed by clients, information sheets about readers' rights, as well as in documents explaining medical procedures to patients. </p><p>“Unfortunately, the vocabulary and style of complex documents often make them inaccessible for target reading groups. Plain language can help them to read and understand these documents and thereby gain access to important information. Therefore, the focus has to be on the target reading group and the information they have to obtain from the document." </p><p>Burger says the results of her study show a link between the context in which a plain language document is situated, how useful and understandable it is and how readers experience it. </p><p>“Due to the complex nature of financial and legal contexts, respondents found it difficult to understand the plain language documents and to experience it in a positive manner. On the other hand, they found plain language documents in the medical context easier to understand and they also had a more positive attitude towards these documents." </p><p>A relationship also exists between readers' qualification level, their home language, how engaged they feel with the documents and their experience of the documents, she says.</p><p>“The higher their qualification level, the worse their experience of plain language documents was. Afrikaans-speaking respondents had a better experience with the documents than speakers of other home languages. Respondents' experience of the documents improved when they felt they provided information that they can use."</p><p>According to Burger a good plain language document is therefore a document with which the target audience can engage and from which they can gain the information they need. </p><p>She says her research can help document designers to better understand the nature of plain language, to look at the characteristics of the context of plain language documents as well as the characteristics of the readers of plain language when plain language documents are created.  </p><p>“It will also help them to make plain language documents understandable and useful and to improve the readers' experience of them."</p><p>Burger stresses that document designers should test their own documents with readers. “Testing is extremely important when creating a document. Each reader group is different and only testing can determine which aspects of the document work and which don't." </p><p><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Annie Burger at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</p><p> </p><p>​<br></p>
Doctoral study can help prevent spreading of bovine TB in African buffaloes study can help prevent spreading of bovine TB in African buffaloesCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>A researcher at Stellenbosch University (SU) has found an innovative way to diagnose bovine Tuberculosis (TB) in African buffaloes and identify infected animals more accurately and rapidly. <br></p><p>This can help to prevent the spread of the disease in one of the continent's most iconic and high-valued species.<br></p><p>“It is essential to diagnose bovine TB quicker and to accurately identify infected buffaloes early because these animals keep the disease-causing bacteria in the ecosystem, which can cause infection of other species such as lions, wild dogs, rhinos, elephants, and antelopes," says Dr Charlene Clarke from the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at SU. <br></p><p>“This could negatively impact wildlife tourism, the economy, and conservation programmes," cautions Clarke, who obtained her PhD in Molecular Biology on Tuesday 28 March 2023 at one of SU's March graduation ceremonies. <br></p><p>For her doctorate, Clarke combined molecular and immune-based tests to help improve the diagnosis of bovine TB in buffaloes. She says current strategies to eradicate bovine TB require the testing of animals, followed by the culling of infected animals.<br></p><p>As part of her study, Clarke collected tissue and swab samples from the mouths and noses (oronasal) of infected animals while they were immobilised. She also collected oronasal swabs from buffaloes that tested negative for bovine TB. These swabs also allowed her to identify and characterise nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTMs) species in buffaloes. All the swab samples were stored in a medium that inactivates all pathogens and stabilises the DNA, thereby rendering them safe to handle.<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Clarke-fieldwork.jpg" alt="Clarke-fieldwork.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:505px;height:377px;" /><br></p><p>Clarke then used these inactivated samples together with a human TB diagnostic test to detect the presence of <em>Mycobacterium bovis</em> DNA in buffaloes. <em>M. bovis</em> causes bovine TB in wildlife and livestock species. She says her study is the first to combine these methods for the detection of bovine TB in buffaloes.<br></p><p>“We found that the combined use of swab samples, stored in a pathogen-inactivating medium, and the test used to diagnose TB in humans made it possible to accurately and rapidly identify <em>M. bovis</em> infected buffaloes, while ensuring the safety of the humans who handle samples that potentially contain zoonotic bacteria.<br></p><p>“We further found that there is a great diversity of NTM species present in buffaloes, some of which seem to cause false positive bovine TB test results in these animals. The wide diversity of NTMs in buffaloes identified in this study provides a foundation for further research to investigate their role in wildlife bovine TB diagnostic testing and host immune responses.</p><p>“This novel approach provided a safe sampling method and quick, accurate results, making it possible to bypass the requirement for costly and laborious tests of mycobacterial tissue grown in a laboratory for diagnosis."<br></p><p>Clarke adds that the human TB diagnostic test, which is available in many developing countries with African buffalo populations, could potentially minimise the need to transport samples from remote locations to specialised laboratories for bovine TB diagnosis. It could also provide same-day results to diagnose infected buffaloes. Currently, it takes more than two months before results from tissue grown in the laboratory are ready.<br></p><p>Clarke says her study is important given the factors that complicate accurate diagnosis in buffaloes, such as the confirmation of infection by mycobacterial isolation from tissue grown in a laboratory, which relies on time-consuming methods with limited sensitivity; exposure of buffaloes to more than 250 NTMs that are closely related to <em>M. bovis</em>; and the inappropriate interpretation of diagnostic tests. </p><p>“The presence of NTMs, for example, can cause false-positive test results which can lead to the unnecessary loss of animals due to culling, and quarantine of the farm on which 'positive' animals were identified." <br></p><p>Going forward, we need to continuously improve the diagnostic tools for accurately identifying infected buffaloes at early stages of infection, before they shed bacteria and transmit it to other animals, concludes Clarke. <br></p><p>​​​“The development of new molecular-based tools that are used directly on collected samples is a step in the right direction, as it significantly improves the accurate detection of infected animals at a faster turnaround time than culture-based tests, thereby giving same-day results. This will dramatically improve disease control strategies in the quest towards eradicating bovine TB in South Africa."​<br></p><p><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Charlene Clarke at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els<br></p><p><strong>Photo 1</strong> (supplied): Dr Charlene Clarke and fellow researcher Dr Wynand Goosen collecting samples.<br></p><p> </p><p><br></p><p>​<br></p>