UZ GRADUATES 3 451 STUDENTS

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The Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, Professor L. M. Nyagura congratulated 3 451 students who graduated at a colourful 2015 University of Zimbabwe Graduation Ceremony held on Friday 2 October 2015.

The ceremony was well received by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chancellor of the University, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the graduands and invited guests. Said the Vice Chancellor,

Your Excellency and Chancellor, it is my singular honour to present to you a total of 3 451 graduands for the conferment of University of Zimbabwe degrees. Of this figure, 2 812 are undergraduate graduands, 602 taught Masters graduands, 18 Master of Philosophy graduands, and 14 Doctor of Philosophy graduands. Among the undergraduate graduands are 91 Medical Doctors, 7 Dental Doctors, 50 Pharmacists, 124 Engineers, 93 Agricultural Experts, 389 Accountants and 136 Lawyers. The graduands are distributed in the 9 Faculties of the University, namely Agriculture, Arts, Commerce, Education, Engineering, Law, Science, Social Studies, Veterinary Science, and the College of Health Sciences. Your Excellency and Chancellor, I am proud to present 101 first class passes (which is a historic milestone) together with 635 postgraduate graduands for capping

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SPEECH BY THE VICE CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE, PROFESSOR LEVI MARTIN NYAGURA ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2015 GRADUATION CEREMONY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE.

It is indeed a great honour for me to welcome His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the African Union and Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe to this diamond jubilee graduation ceremony.  Your Excellency and Chancellor, there is always a high expectation by the University community, especially the graduands, to enjoy your enriching presence at this most cherished event on the University’s calendar.

Your Excellency and Chancellor, allow me to thank you for your visionary leadership and great passion for education. The University has benefited tremendously from your wise guidance, passion for the development of higher education, and in particular, the interventions that have resulted in the University of Zimbabwe developing into a citadel of higher learning with international repute.

I wish to assure you, Your Excellency and Chancellor, that the University Management on its part is determined to pursue with passion and commitment, your noble goals to place the University of Zimbabwe in its rightful position in the community of elite institutions of higher learning in the region, the continent, and indeed, in the world.  It is our goal to be among the top 10 best universities on the African continent by the year 2017.  We are focusing on the right things to attain our excellence goal.  I expect 90% of the academic staff to be in possession of a PhD qualification by 2017.  I expect the research output to be more than ten times the current impressive output.  I expect the University to register over 10 patents annually.  I expect our PhD graduate output to go up five times the 2015 figure.  I expect the University to have perfected its developments of precision agriculture.  I expect to have recreated the whole University to meet the standards of a top 21st century university.  Your Excellency and Chancellor, I have a very strong inner conviction that together with our partners including the government, our wish will be a reality.

Permit me, Your Excellency and Chancellor, to welcome the Honourable Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Jonathan N. Moyo (MP).

Your Excellency and Chancellor, I am extremely excited and humbled by the impressive roll call of very eminent personalities – Government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, politicians, captains of industry, the clergy and other invited guests who have graced this occasion.   I warmly welcome you all to the country’s premier institution.

Allow me, Your Excellency and Chancellor, to take this opportunity to convey my special congratulations to the graduands for successfully completing their academic programmes.  Their accomplishments – the fruits of years of toil – were made possible by the support and encouragement of their parents, spouses, friends and sponsors, who are celebrating with us today.

I also congratulate the professors, lecturers and other members of staff who guided the students in various ways. It is through these combined efforts and team work that has led to the outstanding achievements that we are proudly witnessing today. I urge all of us individually and collectively to embrace that unity of purpose in our future endeavours for the benefit of our country.

Your Excellency and Chancellor, this year’s graduation ceremony is very special in the development of the University of Zimbabwe. It marks 60 years of service to the nation and 35 years of service post-independence. As we celebrate the institution’s development trajectory from the launch on 11 February 1955 to the present, we reflect and take pride in its contributions to national development and the upliftment of our society. Allow me your Excellency and Chancellor, to highlight some of the major achievements in the 35 years of its existence post-independence:

$1·         Over the past 35 years, the government exceptionally acquitted itself in the provision of high quality infrastructure which includes students’ hostels, lecture theatres, lecture rooms, workshops, laboratories, the spectacular Great Hall, and the magnificent extension to the Main Library;

$1·         Student enrolments increased from 2 280 in 1980 to now around 13 000 which represents a 570% increase.  In particular, enrolment of female students has increased from a mere 22.3% in 1980 to 49.1% in 2015;

$1·         New faculties of Engineering, Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Commerce, Law and Social Studies were established to train the much needed human resources for the new nation;

$1·         New development oriented programmes were designed including Dentistry, Radiology, Pharmacy, Surveying, Clinical Psychology, Geospatial Intelligence, and Forensic Science;

$1·         Until the early 1990s, being the only comprehensive institution of higher learning in the country, the University single handedly produced the much needed high skilled human capital and research outputs in virtually all areas of national development including, but not limited to agriculture, the arts, commerce, education, engineering, law, health science, natural sciences, social sciences and veterinary sciences;

$1·         The University played a critical role in nurturing the establishment of new public universities, among them, the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), the Midlands State University (MSU), Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), and now the Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology whose bill you recently signed.

$1·         As the most well established quality assurance authority in higher and tertiary education, the University has astutely guided tertiary education training through colleges associated with, or affiliated to it, among them, all 15 teachers’ colleges and two agricultural colleges including many others adding up to over 45 institutions.  The University looks after over 30 000 students in these associate and affiliate institutions.

Your Excellency and Chancellor, as part of our celebrations to mark the University’s Diamond Jubilee, the institution organized year-long activities including  public lectures by renowned academics and professionals from various fields of specialization, international conferences and symposia, and sporting and cultural activities to name but just a few. This Graduation Ceremony is a culmination of the celebratory mood.  We are publishing at least two volumes on the history of the University of Zimbabwe from 1955 to 2015.

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

Your Excellency and Chancellor, your University   continues to improve its teaching, learning and research facilities so as to create the best environment for its academics and students. For example, the institution now boasts of state of the art research facilities such as the world class undergraduate IT research commons centre housed in the University’s research hub, the Main Library. We have also completed the construction of two state of the art, air conditioned lecture rooms with a seating capacity of sixty students each in the Faculty of Social Studies. We have also completed the construction of a 70 seater computer laboratory in the Faculty of Engineering.  We have established a GIS and Earth Observation Centre of Excellence, and Geospatial Intelligence and Forensic Science Centres.  We have embarked on a systematic maintenance programme that is catalyzing our transformation process.

However, our major challenge is limited student accommodation. As part of our efforts to ameliorate the bottleneck, we are exploring possibilities of increasing the bed capacity of our hostels to over 6 000 through the Public Private Partnership initiatives.

On an exciting note, our student registration and accommodation allocation services have been automated through an internally developed application software named Emhare. This has greatly enhanced our service delivery to our clients, the students.

Your Excellency and Chancellor, the University has also initiated a robust landscaping programme that has totally transformed the face of the institution. Our guests today have an opportunity to witness these life changing developments that are contributing to the creation of a brand new 21st century University of Zimbabwe.

RESEARCH AND TRAINING

Your Excellency and Chancellor, the area of research is central to the University academic business.  Each academic member of staff is guided by the following survival principle: Publish or Perish.  Your Excellency and Chancellor, the University of Zimbabwe is a research institution.  Our learning and teaching are informed by research thereby guaranteeing the most recent knowledge for lectures, seminars and tutorials.  Our current research agenda focuses on the four ZIM ASSET cluster areas.  Our passion and commitment to research was vividly displayed at the 2015 September Research and Intellectual Expo held in Bulawayo.  We have created first class facilities to support research activities for staff, undergraduate students and postgraduate students.

Your Excellency and Chancellor, as we rethink the role of the University in the 21st century, we desire to be a prestigious centre of creativity and innovation that is responsive to the needs of the nation.  We have resolved to infuse quality assurance mechanisms into all our business activities to guarantee high quality teaching, high quality learning, high quality research and high quality extension and advisory services as we fulfil our mission of serving our society and humankind. 

In our efforts to contribute to the realization of the ZIM ASSET goals, the University already has the unique advantage of a high concentration of scientific and technological talents.  Currently, the institution has 102 professors and 174 senior lecturers each with a PhD qualification.  These two figures represent the expected minimum quantum in research output.

COLLABORATIONS AND LINKAGES

Your Excellency and Chancellor, in order to benchmark ourselves against nontrivial universities, the University of Zimbabwe strives for a combination of strong regional and global connections, in both training and research. To that end, we have developed over 100 active partnerships with other dynamic and progressive institutions of higher learning the world over.  Today we enjoy many research leadership positions where we are trusted by our partner institutions and donors to lead multi-million dollar research projects.  We have continued to extend our influence and brand across the globe as evidenced by the physical presence of our graduates across the global village.  We share intellectual and academic notes with leading universities in Africa, People’s Republic of China, India, South Korea, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Europe and the Americas.  The University of Zimbabwe brand is indeed internationally acclaimed.

QUALITY GRADUATES

Your Excellency and Chancellor, the University continues to focus on its core mandate of offering quality university education. It is our expectation as a leading university, that our graduates will not only demonstrate their academic excellence but also espouse the virtues of entrepreneurship, humility, honesty, objectivity and tolerance. Such noble attributes will go a long way in assisting our graduates to realize tangible lifetime goals. To that end, we have enriched our curricula by incorporating strong entrepreneurship and life skills as well as a more practical approach in our teaching and training.

Your Excellency and Chancellor, our thinking, planning and execution of the academic business is guided by our operational philosophy which can succinctly be summarized mathematically as follows:

          Quality Programmes + Quality Teaching Staff +

          Quality Resources = Quality Graduates.


The credibility of this operational philosophy derives from the vast experience we have acquired over 60 years of research based practice.  Consequently, we pay very special attention to both movable and immovable resources that we make available for teaching, learning and research.  Our teaching staff must be well trained as measured by a PhD qualification in one’s area of specialization.  Our programmes are well structured and benchmarked against programmes of top universities in the entire global village.  Your Excellency and Chancellor, our philosophy has continued to propel us into the international community of highly productive universities.

I now turn to the business of the day. Your Excellency and Chancellor, it is my singular honour to present to you a total of 3 451 graduands for conferment of University of Zimbabwe degrees. Of this figure, 2 812 are undergraduate graduands, 602 taught Masters graduands, 18 Master of Philosophy graduands, and 14 Doctor of Philosophy graduands. Among the undergraduate graduands are 91 Medical Doctors, 7 Dental Doctors, 50 Pharmacists, 124 Engineers, 93 Agricultural Experts, 389 Accountants and 136 Lawyers. The graduands are distributed in the 9 Faculties of the University, namely Agriculture, Arts, Commerce, Education, Engineering, Law, Science, Social Studies, Veterinary Science, and the College of Health Sciences.  Your Excellency and Chancellor, I am proud to present 101 first class passes (which is a historic milestone) together with 635 postgraduate graduands for capping.

Of the total number of graduands, 44.3%  are female, while males constitute 55.7%. Your Excellency and Chancellor, the percentage figures indicate that we are making strides in our efforts to educate more female students in line with national objectives to empower women.

These achievements should not be taken for granted. Rather, they should be understood to have come about because of the political will, passion, commitment and facilitation by your visionary leadership. It is clear that the investments being put by Government in developing and sustaining the University of Zimbabwe and other institutions of higher learning in the country are yielding enviable results across the African continent and beyond.

We fully understand that it is our duty to demonstrate to the nation and other supporting organizations that there is sufficient return on the investment in higher education accruing to Zimbabwe from the delivery of our mission. This is a cause we are determined to fulfill to the satisfaction of all our stakeholders.   We are also aware that the Zimbabwean society is becoming more complex and heterogeneous with individuals characterized by intriguing sets of demands and preferences.  This defines a unique challenge that calls for a re-thinking about the nature of public service the University of Zimbabwe should render to the nation.  I firmly believe that our focus should be on the intensification of the socialization of knowledge, that is, making sure that our best research results are transferred to the society to improve practice and to create new productive businesses.  In such a process, we shall remain open to capture the knowledge generated by the society so as to sustain and further develop the intellectual and cultural base of our society.

The institution is also trying hard to mobilize funds from other sources to finance research and diversify student sponsorship.  However, it will take some time before such efforts begin to yield significant results. Thus, I wish to appeal to Government for continued full financial support to enable students from poor families, who constitute over 80% of the student population, to access university education.

Your Excellency and Chancellor, may I once again thank the Government for the continued support towards the development of the University. I also wish to thank all our partners, stakeholders and ‘friends’ of the University who are supporting the development of this national asset.

I wish to thank the University Council for its guidance and direction in the execution of the University business.

Finally, I congratulate the graduands for a job well done.  I know you are going out with significant moral and social values developed during your years of training. I wish to challenge you to translate this value-addition into actions that will enable you to make a difference, and indeed be seen by others to be making such a difference in the society and in the global village. May I remind you that, the nation has put immense resources in you and now that you have successfully completed your education, it is now your turn to give back to the society.  I also wish to urge you, to be good ambassadors of the University of Zimbabwe. You should remember that as alumni of the University of Zimbabwe family, the University will forever look forward to your contributions to its development. I wish you the very best wherever you will be.

May God Bless You All.

I Thank You.