July, vice-chancellor Professor Njabulo Ndebele hosted an official welcoming dinner for the first two intakes of the university's New Academic Practitioners Programme (Napp).
Launched in 2004 by the Centre for Higher Education Development (Ched), Napp serves as a support structure for newcomers to academia at UCT. In addition to an introduction session and a later retreat, Napp also hosts workshops on topics related to research, and teaching and learning. These are presented either by Ched or the university's Research Office.
Since the programme was started, it's served more than 50 such "new" academics.
In no way does Napp take over responsibility for the academics, stresses Jeff Jawitz, programme convenor and senior lecturer in the Academic Staff Development Group at Ched. That onus still lies with heads of departments.
Instead, Napp acts as a resource that both the academics and their HODs can use to help the new arrivals find their feet.
"What we've been trying to do is put more emphasis on the relationship between the newcomer and the head of department, and trying to find how that can be developed," says Jawitz. "What we did was create a kind of support environment to help that along."
And it appears to be hitting the spot. "We've learned a lot from the Napp, and the newcomers say it's been a great support," reports Jawitz.
As becomes the goals of the programme, both academics and heads of departments attended the dinner - the first of its kind - hosted by the vice-chancellor in July. (The evening included a short play - Waiting for Thandiwe - scripted and directed by UCT graduate Lulama Masimini.)
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