Prof Nthabiseng Ogude, who took office as TUT's vice-chancellor and principal on August 1, has extensive experience in strategic leadership positions in the tertiary education environment, including appointments as deputy vice-chancellor (academic) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, dean of research at the former Technikon SA, director of academic affairs at the South African Universities' Vice-Chancellors' Association (SAUVCA) and head of the chemistry department at Vista University's Soweto campus.
She is the former vice-principal for teaching and learning and student affairs at the University of Pretoria. Ogude has taught at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, supervised postgraduate students and published papers in accredited journals. Her research interests are in the areas of science education, university leadership development, women in science and academic management leadership.
She is a 2006-2007 American Council on Higher Education fellow, a member of several professional organisations and serves as chairperson and member of a number of university committees, as well as external committees and councils.
In an interview with e-TUTor, Ogude said it is an honour for her to serve an institution such as TUT, especially at this time in South Africa's history, when education is facing many challenges.
"A university of technology like TUT has a crucial role to play in the delivery of medium- and high-level skills to meet the economic and developmental needs of the country. One instance where the university can play an important role is to assist further education and training colleges to function properly."
Ogude acknowledged that TUT has faced many problems in the past few years, but believes that the time has come for the university to once again take its rightful place in the southern African higher education landscape.
"We cannot deny the problems that exist. I have previously been employed at an institution that went through a merger, therefore I understand the difficulties that the TUT community is experiencing. However, there are many pockets of excellence and outstanding staff at TUT who should be recognised and motivated to excel even more. Embarking on a campaign of changing the staff morale will be one of my first priorities.
"I would like to invite each and every staff member and student to join me on this exciting journey to create a shared TUT identity and to instil a sense of pride in everyone involved with this great university. Through effective management and leadership, combined with a clearly defined strategy, we will steer TUT in the right direction and galvanise the university around a common goal, vision and culture," she said.
She said that although these changes are not going to take place overnight, part of the challenge is to set attainable and measureable goals and to celebrate achieving them.
In response to a question how she would describe herself, Ogude said: "I'm a passionate South African who believes that education can change the country. Many people before us – including my own parents – have made huge sacrifices to ensure that our country's children receive a good education. My parents always said 'we can't leave you anything, but we will leave you an education'. Therefore, if I can choose a legacy for myself, it would be to create an environment conducive for as many young people as possible to also receive an education."
Ogude said TUT has immense potential and that she would like the entire university to think like a winning team.
"I can envision TUT as a university with a very different public profile, a university that is known for its excellence and that is a leader in many fields, a university that really empowers people to realise their dreams."
As a woman in leadership, Ogude said she would like to encourage all female colleagues and students at TUT to celebrate their role in society during this women's month of August 2012 and to spur them on to even greater achievements wherever they venture.