BRIEFING NOTES FOR PROFESSOR MAYATULA ON THE NMMU STUDENT
MEMORANDUM OF 9 AUGUST 2005
On 9 August 2005, the SRC of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) sent a memorandum to Professor Mayatula voicing their dissatisfaction with (i) the Council's decision to advertise the position of the substantive Vice Chancellor only internally; and (ii) the decisions regarding allocation of delivery sites and in particular those relating to the former Port Elizabeth campus of Vista University.
The following is some background information on the matters raised.
2. APPOINTMENT OF THE SUBSTANTIVE VICE CHANCELLOR
- The NMMU Council, chaired by Justice R Pillay, established an ad hoc committee of Council to advise on the preferred process to be implemented in the appointment of the Vice Chancellor, taking into account legal opinion which the University received on the appointments process.
- The two options presented to the Council were (i) to retain the Interim Vice Chancellor Dr Stumpf in the post of Vice Chancellor for the balance of his contract period, i.e., up to 30 June 2007; or alternatively (ii) to 'buy-out' Dr Stumpf's contract and embark upon a selection process for a new appointment, which post could then be advertised both internally and externally.
- The Council at a meeting held on 28 July 2005 considered the various options and voted in favour of the position first being advertised internally and if no suitable internal candidate was found then the position would be advertised externally. This decision was informed by the need to bring a measure of stability to the University as soon as possible and before the start of the 2006 academic year.
- It is evident from the records of Council meetings, which the Department has obtained, that the Council applied its mind to the concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the appointments process. In fact, at its meeting of 19 August 2005 Council again voted on a proposal to discontinue the VC appointment process and for the post to be advertised externally. Of the 21 Council members present at the meeting the majority voted against this proposal.
- On the basis of the information presented, the Council of NMMU has acted in accordance with provisions of the Higher Education Act and the Standard Institutional Statute in deciding on the appointments process, and in particular consulted with key stakeholders on the process.
- Finally, it should be noted that following the establishment of the new UNISA, the Council, chaired by Dr Matthew Phosa, also decided not to advertise the position of Vice Chancellor externally. Prof. Pityana was subsequently appointed as the substantive Vice Chancellor.
- SITE ALLOCATION
- All mergers have given rise to new multi-campus institutions. A challenge that institutions now have to address is how best to consolidate academic and administrative departments and faculties across the multiple sites, taking into account the need to reduce unnecessary overlap and duplication in programme offerings and to secure on-going financial viability and sustainability of the new institution. This also applies to the NMMU which has several sites of delivery, including the former Port Elizabeth campus of Vista University.
- Early this year, the Executive Management of NMMU embarked on a process to decide on the most appropriate location of academic units and programmes across the various delivery sites. The process was consultative, including questionnaire surveys undertaken with internal and external stakeholders and focus group discussions held with, amongst others, the SRC and students from the former Vista campus, and staff and business representatives. In addition, staff were invited to submit site allocation proposals for their particular faculty/divisions.
- On the basis of the inputs received, various scenarios were developed and work-shopped with key stakeholders, including the SRC and trade unions. To further accommodate student views, the Management postponed taking a final decision on the site allocation proposal to allow more time for students to lodge any objections to the proposals. However, it is reported that the students did not lodge any objections and the proposals were submitted to Senate and thereafter to the Council at the end of July 2005.
- Notwithstanding the above, prior to a Council decision on the site proposals the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of Council met with the SRC Chairpersons to allow for another opportunity for discussions on the proposals. The SRC Chairpersons noted that they would be tabling a proposal to Council for the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Law to be both located on the former Vista Port Elizabeth campus. The Council deliberated on the student proposal and decided that the Faculty of Education should be located on the former Vista campus but not the Faculty of Law. Their view was that the Faculty of Law should be located on the Summerstrand South Campus with Business and Economic Sciences, as these fields of study are all inter-related.
- It should, however, be noted that in addition to the Faculty of Education being located at the former Vista campus, the University also plans to offer a limited range of other academic programmes in response to community needs. These include the National Diploma and B Tech in Management; 1st year of B.Com related foundation programmes; pre-university foundation and preparation; access initiatives and research. The campus will also house the Small Business Unit, the Institute for Sustainable Government and Development, the HIVIAIDS Unit and the Law and Legal Aid Clinic. Arrangements would also be made to ensure continuity of programme offerings to accommodate Vista pipeline students.
- The University's decision regarding the use of sites is premised on a model in which each campus is assigned a unique foci area within the overall multi-campus system to ensure that no particular campus is regarded as having an inferior status. It is also premised on the need to minimise intercampus travel, optimising existing facilities and recognising the site preferences of staff and students.
- NMMU's decision to consolidate its academic faculties across delivery sites is similar to decisions taken by other merged institutions, for example, the University of KwaZulu-Natal which also consolidated its Education Faculty on a single site, viz., the former Edgewood Campus in Pinetown. The Ministry is supportive of decisions to consolidate faculties across delivery sites, especially where these are feasible, as we believe that this would create the foundation for the development of a more unified institutional culture and ethos.
- Finally, regarding the Algoa Campus - the campus does not belong to the NMMU. Given this, the University thought it strategic to focus investment on Vista and other NMMU campuses. In addition, to relocate activities planned for the Algoa campus to the Vista campus, thereby ensuring continuity in programme offerings and service delivery in the community.