‘Do the right thing.’

These were the words of outgoing UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, who revealed his philosophy for life at a farewell held in his honour at the University’s Westville campus.

While van Jaarsveld said he would miss UKZN, he could not afford to let the opportunity to serve as Director-General and CEO of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis – where he begins his tenure on 1 October 2018 – pass him by. ‘Much of my career has been to try and drive global society towards the betterment of our planet and our relationship as a species with this planet,’ said van Jaarsveld.

He said he had tried to do the “right thing” throughout his career and that it had been an ‘honour and a privilege to serve UKZN.’

Representing UKZN staff and the University of KwaZulu-Natal Staff Union (UKSU), Mr Raymond Parkies thanked van Jaarsveld for bringing ‘stability and hope’ to the University as well as improving ‘very low staff morale.’ Parkies acknowledged the VC’s contributions to the University, with particular emphasis on achieving one set of conditions of service among staff and leaving a legacy of emancipating workers oppressed by labour brokers. He said van Jaarsveld is a ‘dedicated soul’ and that his visionary leadership was affirmed by his global appointment at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, based in Austria.

UKZN academic, Professor Purshottama Reddy, echoed Parkies’ sentiments that the VC had lifted low staff morale at UKZN. Reddy said the VC had ‘turned the tide’ and created an enabling environment for a ‘content and motivated workforce.’ He acknowledged the VC’s role in unifying the conditions of service at UKZN and assisting outsourced staff. He said the VC was ‘dynamic and world-class.’ While Reddy was disappointed to see the VC leave UKZN so soon, he wished him well at his new appointment.

President of the SRC, Mr Sandile Zondi, who revealed his ‘compliment and contradict’ strategy when dealing with Management, said the VC was a humble man who ‘went to the ground’ to speak to students and workers. Zondi quipped about the VC’s open door policy, revealing that he often sent students directly to the VC, without an appointment, and that the VC would welcome students to attend to their concerns.

Zondi said he had learnt a lot from the VC’s leadership style and commended him for making a mark at the University. He welcomed Professor Nana Poku who will take up the reins as Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal when the VC leaves at the end of the month.

Enactus President, Mr Kwazi Zulu, saluted the VC’s contributions to the entire University community.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Albert Hirasen