Durban University of Technology (DUT) launched the DUT Foundation on Thursday 26 May 2022 at the Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel and Convention Centre.
The DUT Foundation was officially established in November 2017, through a resolution of the DUT Council to endorse and support the philanthropic work and advancement activities of DUT. As part of DUT’s ENVISION2030, the objective of the Foundation is to provide scholarships, bursaries, awards and loans for the promotion of study, research, teaching and learning.
In terms of its Governance, the Board of Trustees will be responsible for the Foundation’s fiduciary and legal areas of responsibility. The Board currently has eight Trustees listed below with one of the Trustees, Mr Rajen Reddy having sadly passed on. The current Trustees are:
Mr Wiseman Zazi Madinane, (DUT Foundation Chairperson) and Chief Executive Officer at Bidvest Freight, a Division of the Bidvest Group Limited.
Professor Thandwa Mthembu, Vice Chancellor and Principal.
Dr Mahmoud Youssef Baker, Chairman of IQRAA Trust.
Ms Irene Vallihu, Sales and Business Executive, Durban International Convention Centre.
Dr Thuli Tabudi, Group Human Resources Executive at the SPAR Group Ltd – Central Office, Durban.
Mr Hloniphizwe Mtolo, Chairman of Shell Companies in South Africa.
Mr Peter Adams, (Adams & Company – family bookselling and stationery business).
Mr Bishen Singh, Chief Financial Officer/Group Executive: Finance & Business Systems – National Research Foundation.
As part of its strategic focus areas, the foundation will also advance strengthening networks and philanthropic funding in areas involving: Sustainability including Climate Change and Green Projects, Energy (Renewable energy -Solar panel installations), SMME Development, Food Security, Bursaries and Scholarships, School Engagement, Ethical leadership Training, Work Integrated Learning (In-service Training)/Learnerships, Student Mentorship and Coaching as well as Workplace Readiness Training.
Director: Advancement and Alumni Relations, Mr Zwakele Ngubane, served as the Programme Director for the evening.
Delivering the official opening remarks was DUT Council Chairperson and DUT Foundation Chairperson, Mr Wiseman Madinane who welcomed all the esteemed DUT Council members, DUT
Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors: Research, Innovation and Engagement Prof Sibusiso Moyo and DVC: Teaching and Learning, Prof Nokuthula Sibiya, and Teaching and Learning, DUT Foundation Board of Trustees, Convocation Executive Management members, Convocation and Alumni Officers, Donors and Representatives from Trusts and Foundations, Representatives from the eThekwini Municipality, Representatives from Industry and Private Sector, Executives and Senior Management of DUT, staff and Student leadership.
A moment of silence was held in memory of the late Trustee, Mr Rajen Reddy, who was the founder of KZN Oils and a well-established entrepreneur in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), who sadly passed away in February 2021.
Mr Madinane thanked the Trustees of the DUT Foundation for the voluntary work they do and added that the work of the Foundation complements and elevates ENVISION2030, which is DUT’s strategic plan of DUT and its Perspectives on Stewardship, Systems and Processes, Sustainability and Society.
Professor Mthembu, the Vice-Chancellor & Principal of DUT, was congratulated for being entrusted by the DUT Council and offering him a second term at DUT. This was soon after he had spent five years at DUT since 2016 and his magnificent performance as Vice-Chancellor & Principal over this period and taking the University to greater heights including its first entry into the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021.
Mr Madinane further indicated that the Council members were pleased after having a physical tour of the DUT infrastructure projects where the University had invested approximately R1.3 billion. He added that the DUT Trustees are looking forward to this Foundation taking shape to serve as a platform for supporting the necessary partnerships and networks that will contribute to its mandate.
The DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu, indicated that it was wonderful to have everyone at the event to celebrate the DUT Foundation launch, a very important structure within the life of the University.
Prof Mthembu thanked the DUT Council for the opportunities that have been availed to him as Vice-Chancellor and Principal.
He indicated that when he had come back to KwaZulu-Natal in 2016 and was warmly welcomed by the DUT Council, and in terms of tasks that he had to perform he is grateful to the Council for giving him the space and support that allowed DUT to make some of the achievements that were highlighted in the media.
“I acknowledge and thank the Council very much for yet another opportunity to complete the big task that I was given in 2016,” he said.
Prof Mthembu relayed that his very first substantial engagement with Council was on 18 November 2016, and most of what is happening today actually emanated from that workshop.
“I was engaging with heads of departments and I actually went through an annotation of what happened in the workshop of 18 of November and how all of that has grown and culminated in what we see as outputs and outcomes there, so that’s how we have been developing and managing this university as a viable system,” he said.
Prof Mthembu spoke about Mr Madinane referring to ENVISION2030, emphasising particularly, one of the four perspectives of the ENVISION2030 which is about Sustainability, and adding that it was also about Society.
“Sustainability involved a focus on the economy, equity and the environment and was about how well supported DUT could be to sustain itself into the future in a manner that allows DUT resources not to be squandered and to think of the many, many generations to come,” he added.
He indicated that there is the need to leave the University in a better standing by all those at the University and emphasised for DUT to continue being accessible and instrumental for future generations, including the need to ensure future generations benefit from the wealth of knowledge that comes from a University like DUT.
Prof Mthembu further spoke on the other elements in DUT’s ENVISION2030 which is about Society and the need to establish relations with DUT’s quad-helix partners or stakeholders within our Society.
“The University will continue to grow its trajectory through these partnerships in terms of its research, innovation and entrepreneurial flair demonstrated by the students and staff alike,” he said.
He indicated that DUT fully understands that without partners in other businesses and industries, in government and its agencies in the broader society, the University would not be able to make its contributions, would not be able to innovate and establish entities in society through its entrepreneurial flair that would make contributions towards improving the lives and livelihoods of the broader society.
“So these two perspectives Sustainability and Society are what we are really about. We bring ourselves together so that together we can contribute much more significantly to the advancement of everybody in our midst, so that we could also make contributions towards advancing the economy of Durban, Pietermaritzburg, many other municipalities, KwaZulu-Natal and perhaps broadly South Africa,” he said.
Prof Mthembu looked forward to everyone working together on building an innovative and entrepreneurial University.
Adding her support to this Foundation launch was one of the DUT Foundation Trustees, Ms Irene Valilhu, a Sales and Business Executive at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC).
She explained that many academically deserving students often have to drop out or cannot afford to pursue their dream of obtaining a tertiary qualification as a result of not being able to secure funding.
“Many of these first time graduates in their families have hopes and aspirations for not only themselves as students but their entire families and communities. The Foundation was set up in order to make inroads into the advancement and development of strategic initiatives of the University so as to improve the lives and livelihoods of students and alumni and in turn, our communities and society at large,” she said.
Vallihu further conveyed that the Foundation was also set up to attract financial resources to promote the advancement of cutting-edge research and application so DUT remains a world-class institution.
“There are many projects that DUT is involved in that could uplift the communities within which it resides,” she said.
Chairperson of IQRAA Trust (South Africa), Dr Mahmoud Youssef Baker further urged all stakeholders to partner with the DUT Foundation and help to implement the various projects at DUT.
Chief Financial Officer/Group Executive: Finance and Business Systems, National Research Foundation (NRF), DUT Council Member, and Chair of the DUT Council Finance Committee, Mr Bishen Singh highlighted the areas that need to be focused on and how the DUT Foundation ensures that everyone can come together and work around a common goal.
“Our goal that we set for the Foundation, is premised on the basis of objective merit and need to support our students by awarding scholarships and bursaries and promoting research, academic, and vocational programmes. These initiatives take us well beyond the academic project,” he said.
He further indicated that many of the targeted initiatives may start as support programmes but play a critical role in fostering innovation and the discovery of new ideas.
“Through our generosity, I am sure the DUT Foundation will go from strength to strength! I wish the Foundation every success for the future way beyond our time,” he said.
Explaining the key focus areas of the DUT Foundation was Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Prof Moyo, who observed all protocols and located the DUT Foundation and its Focus areas within ENVISION2030 and the Perspectives on Sustainability and Society. She emphasised the role of the University in ensuring its graduates succeed and are seen as useful members of society, and learning as beneficiaries of bursaries themselves to reinvest and give back to others.
“The DUT Foundation has to create a new legacy and culture amongst our graduates and alumni, of giving back and contributing to developing others, opportunity identification, community development and contributing to transforming our societies through innovation and entrepreneurship,” she said.
Prof Moyo then delved into one of the key focus areas being around sustainability and climate change including the Green Economy Conference planned for 2023.
“Climate change is listed as one of the key elements towards Sustainability and in our case you can see the effects of climate change. The impact of extreme weather and the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal is one example. Additional areas of inclusion included the renewable energy area where DUT continues to collaborate with the IQRAA Trust, Entrepreneurial Development and Support for Small- and Medium- Enterprises, the School Engagement programmes which are run by DUT and the support given to students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Ethical leadership and the need for Internationalisation and Mentorship programmes as key components of these focus areas,” she said.
In closing, Mr Ngubane gave the vote of thanks, acknowledging everyone for their support and attendance.
He thanked Mr Wiseman Madinane, not only for his contribution to the DUT Foundation but to DUT as an institution, Council members present for their support, DUT Foundation Trustees for their guidance, Prof Thandwa Mthembu for his visionary leadership and always pushing everyone to go the extra mile, and Prof Moyo for her inspiration and ensuring the launch took place. Recognition was extended to the DUT donors, partners and future donors, collaborators and business/industry partners.
Pictured: DUT Council members and the DUT Foundation Board of Trustees, at the event. (Thobelani Mdletshe Photography).