Univen Vice Chancellor and Principal, Prof Peter Mbati. Photo by Zwavhudi Tshisudzungwane

By: Zwavhudi Tshisudzungwane

The University of Venda (Univen) bade farewell to its Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Peter Mbati, on Tuesday at the auditorium.

The Univen’s Chairperson of Council, Serobi Maja congratulated Prof Mbati for the sterling job he had done for the university. Maja remarked that when Mbati took over as the Univen’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal in 2008, the institution looked like a glorified high school with very few amenities.
“With your dedication, commitment and incomparable love for the University, you transformed this University from humble beginnings to be one of the most recognised academic institutions in our beloved country,” said Maja.

Maja added that Prof Mbati had spearheaded the much-needed construction of modern lecture halls, office spaces, student residences and other infrastructure projects that compete with the best in the country and around the continent.
“We remain the proud beneficiaries of your efforts to lift the university from the difficult situation into sunlit pathways of hope and fulfilment. The academic and student exchange programmes that we have witnessed over the past years is testimony to your relentless efforts to make our institution not only a University of choice but an institution that will stand ground among other universities of the world,” said Maja.

Prof Mbati expressed gratitude to the Univen’s Council for giving him an opportunity to successfully complete his tenure. “On 1st February 2008 the University of Venda community entrusted me with the responsibility of serving this great institution as its Vice Chancellor and Principal.  At that point I was not sure what had awaited me, but I can now tell you that it has been a lot of hard work that needed well- thought-out strategies, collective wisdom, the buy-in of Council and staff at all levels from senior management, academics, administrative and support staff, the unions, the SRC, to the general student populace,” said Prof Mbati.

Prof Mbati further said that the university would need to re-imagine its governance and leadership to align itself to the new realities that demand increased third stream income funding, new and relevant curricula that repositions itself into the new status of a top 10 South African University; and most importantly strengthened cohesion and unity of purpose between all the stakeholders to ensure a prosperous and successful Univen.

The former Univen Student Representative Council President, Ms Mashudu Nthulane, said Prof Mbati’s leadership made Univen what it is today. “You had an open-door policy to all staff members and students. You have imparted knowledge and skills to most of us,” Nthulane said.

Prof Mbati’s term will end on 31st January 2018. The new Vice-Chancellor and Principal have not been announced yet.