Change the world


It was a cocktail of emotions at the last day of Nelson Mandela University’s Summer graduation on Friday, where outgoing vice-chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz capped graduates in the remaining five faculties. 

Capping graduates for the last time as vice-chancellor of the institution he has led for the past 10 years, Prof Swartz thanked students, their friends and family for adding value to his experience.

“You may know that this is my last graduation as VC. I am extremely privileged to have served this great institution for 10 years. My life experience is all the more richer because of you all. Thank you,” he said, to wild applause and standing ovations in some parts of the hall.

Cheers and ululations sounded off at the Vodacom Madibaz Indoor Centre as family and friends celebrated graduates’ wonderful achievements in the faculties of Engineering, the Built Environment and IT (EBEIT), Science, Arts, Business and Economic Sciences and Health Sciences on 15 December.

The first graduates under the newly renamed and rebranded Nelson Mandela University were repeatedly urged to use the knowledge acquired from the University to go on and change the world, just as the institution’s strap line charges.

“You are graduating from the only university in the world to be named after the colossal figure that is Nelson Mandela. Wherever you go in the world to seek employment or create your own enterprise, that name will be instantly recognised,” Prof Swartz said.

“You can pat yourselves on the back as it is a great name to be associated with. A man who had great courage, great fortitude, a great sense of human compassion and social justice and equality. It is therefore quite an accolade for you to carry that name on your certification going forward.

“You are now equipped with skills and knowledge that are quite unique and distinctive that we are going to need as a society, as the world and as a generation to build the future in a way that can hopefully escape some of the contradictions and paradoxes of the past and present world.

“You are called on to go out and change the world.”

A total 1728 graduates, including 31 doctorates, were capped during the two-day session. Fifteen doctorates were awarded in the Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences (BES); five in the Science Faculty; four in the Law Faculty; three in Engineering, Built Environment and IT (EBEIT); two each in the Arts and Education faculties and one in the Health Sciences Faculty.

In the first session on 14 December, former South African Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke was awarded an honorary doctorate, which he said reinforced his close relationship with the University’s namesake.

The University’s graduation figures have grown over the last five years, from 5976 graduates in 2012 to the record 6786 in 2016. The latter were capped in April this year and included a record 95 doctorates.

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