Change the world

George Campus

NMMU George Academic Merit Awards, 11 April 2013

Vice-Chancellor
University Executive Members
Deans
Mayors and Deputy Mayors
Principals and Deputy Principals
Members of the Business Community
Special Guests
Staff
Students
Ladies and gentlemen

This evening the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in George celebrates the extraordinary performance of our students, at this merit award ceremony. We are very proud of your outstanding achievements, and know that all of you have worked with unswerving devotion to discover your dreams, on that challenging journey from success to significance. Discover Your Dreams, is in fact our theme for the Annual Open Day of the university this year!

Nelson Mandela discovered his dream on that long walk to freedom, human rights and democracy for all in our country, and has always maintained that “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world”. Our university strongly subscribes to that philosophy and continues to create a climate of opportunity for transforming the human species.

Over the next many years at NMMU (George), we will strengthen transformation by enhancing excellence through diversity, as we work to become a world class knowledge catalyst for the green economy, and a more sustainable future.

Our leading expertise and exciting academic programmes from forestry, nature conservation and agriculture to management, economics and education is the foundation upon which we continue to change the lives of our people for the better everywhere.

We must escalate our endeavours, for in a world with more than 7 billion inhabitants that is growing exponentially, the demands for education, energy, food, housing, water, sanitation , transportation and decent work to mention but a few, is growing beyond our means of sustainable supply, threatening our security and peaceful co-existence.

Young people of great distinction here tonight, you are your future and we will move the Outeniqua mountains, to strengthen the quality of teaching and learning, cutting-edge research and engagement, as well as breakthrough innovation and entrepreneurship, to intellectually empower you as knowledge catalysts to bring about a more just and equitable society.

I recently received one of many interesting congratulatory messages on my appointment as Campus Principal from a colleague, who said that he hoped people would see the magnificent opportunities and focus at NMMU (George) that I had described, as he exclaimed “…Wala wasala, for sekunjalo ke nako”. In practical terms, now is the time for us to adjust our life-styles to reduce conspicuous consumption, increase recycling, reduce our carbon footprint, stop water wastage, increase public as well as non-motorized transport and install water meters amongst others.

The green economy will touch everything from bridges to buildings, roads to railways and airports to harbours. Our labour market will shift from blue collar workers to green collar workers. We will need managers, directors and CEO’s who are intellectually geared for that more sustainable future, where bits and bytes, batteries and biofuels, drugs and superbugs, will all form part of a whole new green world.

I am delighted to note that NMMU is significantly green, from the conceptual geography of its landscapes, to the design of new buildings and the creation of electric scooters and vehicles amongst many initiatives. We are well on our way, but more is required.

Nelson Mandela also dreamed about the power of sport to build our nation. We all know of that magnificent Madiba magic that inspired our country to become rugby world champions and winners of the African football cup of nations. Here at NMMU (George) we have a great love and passion for sports, which we will amplify in the coming years. Our cricket and rugby teams are strong, and we continue to build the strength of all other sporting codes, including football and netball amongst others, for better social cohesion.

Just recently I was asked about my thoughts regarding the Madibaz, our Varsity Cup team. Their catalytic talent electrified the stadia in which we found ourselves and they made us all proud to be Dibas! We came to conclude that it was only the wind, which was an opponent that stood between them and the cup, for which they are ultimately destined. To this end, a further congratulatory message from Namibia, textured with its very particular vernacular, read ”Alle heil en slangspoeg! Mag die toekoms duidelik wees, en mag al die teenstanders van die universiteit, se ooge traan!”

Nelson Mandela also dreamed about cultural catalysis and its impact on our people. Many years ago, we joined Madiba and many others for his rocking 46664 concert, right here in George. The palpable energy of the stunning music from the stellar cast of excellent local and international performers lead by the Madiba Jive, was incredible! Here at NMMU (George), we will elevate our cultural engagement to further enrich the tapestry of life for all our students and staff.

The NMMU (George Campus) is strongly supportive of building a “Town and Gown” tradition that will advance human development in the Southern Cape. We wish to strengthen our collaboration with municipalities to build better communities. We are open for business, and look forward to developing deeper relationships with our commercial partners. Just this morning for example, we hosted the global accounting firm Deloitte, who especially flew their staff to NMMU (George) for mass interviews with our students. The company spent half a million rand visiting us today because they have identified our students as genuinely excellent, imaginative and creative young professionals who are peerless in their class, and whom they wish to employ. This triple helix of university, government and industry engagement will be a crucial catalyst for socio-economic transformation of the Garden Route as a Show-Me-Smart region!

Vice-Chancellor, we are very proud that close to 6000 diplomas and degrees will be awarded in our university graduation ceremonies beginning here in George tomorrow. Nearly 10% of our campus students will receive their qualifications cum laude. Furthermore, half of our students who received the highly prestigious Vice-Chancellors Scholarship, will also be graduating. As these student numbers grow, we here at the NMMU (George) are especially delighted with the wonderful new residences and road that we have opened today. This initiative will strongly support our high desire to attract a diversity of top students from especially schools in the Southern Cape and beyond, who will follow in the footsteps of our star achievers, whom we honour here tonight.

We congratulate each one of you who will receive a prestigious award this evening, and recognize the significant support of your parents, grandparents, guardians and friends. You can discover your dreams here at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, where together we will rise to meet our destiny!

Thank you.
Quinton Johnson
Campus Principal
11 April 2013

Contact information
Ms Alet van Tonder
Manager: Marketing & Corporate Relations
Tel: 27 44 801 5098
alet.vantonder@mandela.ac.za