Bidding Farewell to a Phenomenal Leader

It was a bittersweet moment today (Wednesday, 30 September 2020) as the institution bid farewell to outgoing Faculty of Education Dean Professor Mncedisi Christian Maphalala.

A proud alumnus of the university, Prof Maphalala said his departure comes with mixed emotions as the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) has played a major role in his career. It was in this institution that he obtained his teaching qualification. He also started his academic career here in 2005, left in 2010, only to return again in 2016. In the past four years, the academic has undergone a swift progression. He re-joined the university as a full professor in 2016. Shortly after, he was promoted to acting deputy dean for teaching and learning before assuming his position as Dean of the Faculty of education in 2017.

While the news of Prof Maphalala’s exit came as a shock to UNIZULU Vice-Chancellor Professor Xoliswa Mtose, she could not help but celebrate with him and, most importantly, give him credit for the tremendous work he has done in his tenure as Dean.

“You have made valuable contribution to the Faculty of Education and for that we will forever remember you. You have served this institution with wisdom, with respect and the humility that is in you. Your return to the university in 2016 was a confirmation that we believe in developing our own timber and today I want to say that we are planting you where you are going but you will return to this university once more,” she said.

Referring to him as a “visionary leader”, Prof Mtose took the liberty of highlighting a few of Prof Maphalala’s achievements. “I can say that you managed to increase staff research capacity and the development of staff in the faculty. You generated research outputs by promoting co-publishing, in particular. Your mentoring skills and supervision skills made such great impact for that faculty. You nurtured emerging scholars (and) promoted knowledge dissemination through encouraging students to attend conferences and present papers and attend seminars, particularly masters and doctoral workshops.  We have seen the fruits of the work that you have done,” she reminisced.

Honoured by the kind words, Prof Maphalala expressed his gratitude to both Prof Mtose and the entire UNIZULU family for the continued support. He acknowledged with pride how his latest period with the university has propelled him to grow as an individual, scholar and academic leader.

“What has given me the greatest satisfaction over the course of my tenure as the dean was to see the spirit of camaraderie in the Faculty of Education. We saw a number of colleagues graduating with PhDs; we increased, together, the colleagues; we increased the supervision capacity in the faculty; (and) we saw the increase in the number of master’s and doctoral students who graduated with their qualifications. We also saw an increase in the number of research units in the faculty. But, also seeing our undergraduate programmes getting accreditation- that was the greatest satisfaction for me. We could not have achieved what we achieved without the support of the colleagues. Indeed, the foundation was laid by the previous deans. The Vice-Chancellor herself was the dean in the faculty and also Prof Sibaya. My job was to run because the plain fields were levelled by the two deans who came before me,” Prof Maphalala said.

He added that he is excited at the prospect of new opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in his new role.

– Naledi Hlefane


Prof Mncedisi Maphalala, the outgoing Dean of the Faculty of Education, receives a token of appreciation from Professor Xoliswa Mtose, the Vice-Chancellor of UNIZULU.