By Mathews Nthinya
Founded in 1904, Rhodes University (RU) is planning a year-long and global celebration of its 120th anniversary in 2024. The university’s stakeholders and alumni have joined hands in an impressive display of unity and excitement to make this event a memorable tribute to its remarkable history and future aspirations.
Director of the Division of Communication and Advancement, Dr. Luzuko Jacobs, says “Each significant milestone in the life of an institution, especially institutions such as RU, that are founded on pluralistic goals and multiplicity of interests.” He adds that these goals and interests present an opportunity for (i) positive reflection by people united behind a singular resolve to pursue growth and sustainability, (ii) reinvigorating our mutual connections with our invested stakeholders to build a collaborative edge and, (iii) tapping from our collective energies to reimagine a new future for our institution and its purposes, working with stakeholders.
Jacobs continues by saying that the RU 120 anniversary brings about the possibility to reflect on our self-maintenance, constant evolution and adaptability in the context of our Institutional Development Plan and a radically different social, political and economic environment, locally and globally. In this context, RU will implement a project known as the RU120 Anniversary Project.
“The project is an institutional undertaking, led and championed by an institution-wide dynamic and inclusive ‘local and global network’ of invested people with defined roles and responsibilities,” says Jacobs.
Recently, Andile Sangqu, the chair of the steering committee, conducted a significant meeting where Rhodes alumni from across the country gathered to discuss the project’s roadmap leading up to the highly anticipated anniversary. The main topics of discussion included the budget, project scope, and a well-organized schedule for the coming months.
Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sizwe Mabizela inaugurated the celebration with a launch event, aiming to not only honor the university’s achievements but also foster connections and exchanges between current and former stakeholders, students, and alumni. The event is an opportunity for the institution to reflect on its past and brainstorm innovative ideas for its future.
Former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Peter Clayton emphasised the importance of collaboration with local schools to ensure the success of this large-scale project. Local schools will play a significant role in celebrating Rhodes’ achievements and democracy.
One major point of discussion was budget management, a critical aspect of deciding how to allocate funds to various departments and prioritize spending.
The 120th-anniversary celebration seeks to establish a connection between 1904 and 2004 and beyond, bridging the past, present, and future, all in partnership with dedicated alumni.
Jacobs, emphasised that Rhodes University aspires to influence society’s trajectory for more than just the next 120 years. To mark this milestone, he encouraged supporters and graduates to participate in the year-long festivities.
Jacobs also announced that next year, Rhodes will celebrate the launch of the Tebello Nyokong Institute of Nanotechnology, named after the renowned scientist, Prof. Nyokong, who has received global recognition for her groundbreaking work.
Jacobs also mentioned ongoing legacy construction projects at the Rhodes campus, aimed at restoring, developing, and beautifying the aging infrastructure. These projects include a R200 million construction at the Chem-Pharm building and a R90 million construction next door.
Ian “Monkey” Edwards, a Rhodes University alumnus, stressed the importance of reflecting on the past, engaging with the present, and shaping the future according to the school’s new Individual Development Plan. The university also plans to use this celebration to raise funds to support financially struggling students.
Anne Williams, an enthusiastic alumnus, encapsulated the general sentiment: “I’m a proud alumnus, and I can’t wait for Rhodes University’s 120th anniversary next year. It’s a wonderful journey that connects generations.”
Mabizela expressed his excitement, saying, “I look forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with our entire Rhodes University community.” His vision and leadership are the driving forces behind this celebration. “Together, we will work to create a brighter future for our institution and society.”
The local community can anticipate a magnificent and historic 120th-anniversary celebration that will fill everyone connected to Rhodes University with pride. It will be a year full of festivities and teamwork, marking a significant milestone in the university’s history.