Change the world


Nelson Mandela University’s Chairperson of Council, Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill, is among seven global change agents to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) today.

Ambassador January-Bardill will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the university in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the work of the United Nations on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination the rights of women, social justice and ethical governance.

The seven honorary doctorate recipients are among more than 2000 students from the Scottish university’s School for Business and Society, the School of Computing, Engineering, the Built Environment and the School of Health and Life Sciences who will be conferred with credentials during the institution’s Summer graduation.

“ I feel so overwhelmed by this honour as it is not for me only, but my beloved parents and family; my colleagues who served with me on the UN Committee on the Elimination of racial discrimination; and all the people in my life who, in one way or another, contributed to my personal and professional development in our collective struggle for social justice, equality and good governance,” she said.

Nelson Mandela University and Glasgow Caledonian University have established a formal inter-institution partnership. The foundational joint project within the partnership is story-telling for the Common Good, which offers a portal for social entrepreneurs to collaborate and interact. Future areas of mutual engagement are targeted as health sciences and the humanities.

Ambassador January –Bardill has extensive experience in the public, private, education and social sectors, with much of her work anchored in social justice and transformation. She currently serves as an independent non-executive director on the boards of AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) and Mercedes Benz South Africa (MBSA) and chairs their Social Ethics and Sustainability Sub-Committees. She also serves on the boards of the MTN Foundation and chairs the UN Global Compact Local Network. In more recent years she worked in the office of the Executive Director of UN Women as both Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor.

Ambassador January-Bardill began her tenure as Chairperson of the Council two years after her ministerial appointment to the Council of the Mandela University in October 2017, and shortly after the announcement of Professor Sibongile Muthwa’s appointment as Vice Chancellor.  Her appointment as Council Chair and that of Dr Geraldine Fraser- Moleketi as Chancellor soon after, was as momentous.  All three black women were honoured to serve the only university in the world named after Nelson Mandela.  They had served in Tata Mandela’s government and are thrilled to lead an institution, not only named after him, but also one that espouses values that resonate with their own.

“I have a good understanding of the vision that the University has for the future and it is a vision that is personally aligned with my own sense of where education should be heading in the future,” Ambassador January-Bardill said at the time of her appointment.

She said the change of the institution’s name to Nelson Mandela University was a “very wise decision” that afforded it an opportunity to align its identity to the values espoused by its namesake.

“It really gives us an opportunity to live Madiba’s values through an institution of higher education, whose focus is young people, knowing that he was somebody who valued young people and the opportunities and bright future they had,” she said.

“It is therefore this combination of things that excited me about being part of the University. I am very optimistic about the future and believe it is in the hands of young people to make it happen.

“If the University can make them realise that future and the opportunities they really have, then my contribution would be to help them do it.”

Among those lauded at the GCU graduation were British entrepreneur Jo Malone CBE, Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, Humanitarian Zainab Salbi and human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan.

The graduation ceremony will be streamed via

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