Reflections on the Next Generation Professoriate

23 August 2019 | Story Robert Morrell. Photo Ricardo Adams. Read time 5 min.
NGP members gather at one of their quarterly writing retreats, Mont Fleur, July 2019.
NGP members gather at one of their quarterly writing retreats, Mont Fleur, July 2019.

The Next Generation Professoriate (NGP) is nearly four years old. It was formally launched in September 2015. It has now grown from its original 35 to 45 members. It is a support initiative for mid-career staff, those at the senior lecturer and associate professor levels. The goal is to elevate members to associate and full professor status. Another aim is to impact institutional culture. Emerging from the Rhodes Must Fall movement were critiques of UCT’s institutional culture. Many black staff members felt unacknowledged by or disconnected from the University. NGP’s mission was to address this situation.

Since its inception 19 members have been promoted, 4 to full Professor and 15 to associate Professor.  Issues of institutional culture have been addressed by developing a cohort approach that gives members many opportunities to connect with one another. These opportunities include four three-day writing retreats each year, quarterly meetings, monthly writing spaces, support workshops for writing ad hominem promotion narratives and leadership training. In addition, each NGP member meets with the NGP director, Dr Robert Morrell, every six months to discuss progress towards agreed milestones. The activities have built capacity and productivity giving members a better chance successfully of applying for promotion. The programme was favourably reviewed in 2017 by Sharman Wickham and is currently being evaluated to analyse its strengths and areas for improvement.

Members of NGP have come to regard it as a safe, trusting and friendly space. Among the comments recently made are:

  • I love that NGP is a safe space to deal with the whole person. Thanks for creating and fostering the space that it has become.
  • Thanks for your selfless effort put into the programme
  • My participation in the NGP has finally made me feel that I belong at UCT - 30 years or so since my first contact with this university as an undergrad student!
  • Thanks to you and the NGP cohort, I always felt comfort in conversation during the lows.

In this issue we introduce three new members of NGP:  Shahieda Adams (Occupational Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences), Aneesa Vanker (Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences) and Sumaya West (Accountancy, Faculty of Commerce). We also introduce Snazo Sidodo, the new NGP administrator.

NGP members contribute to UCT’s transformation in many different ways. Associate Professor Anwar Jardine (Chemistry) writes about the importance of building the next generation of scientists at school level and how to give them a taste of green chemistry.

Members have been innovatively involved in curriculum change with Associate Professor Manya Mooya (Construction Economics and Management) and Dr Corrinne Shaw (Mechanical Engineering) leading the way in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment. The industry of members has been recognised in awards. Associate Professor Ameeta Jaga (Organisational Psychology) has been awarded the UCT-Harvard Mandela Fellowship which she will take up while on sabbatical in 2020. Associate Professor Freedom Gumedze (Statistical Sciences) has become an Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Statistics and is preparing for his sabbatical by forging stronger links with UK colleagues.

NGP members having been contributing to UCT’s international profile by attending conferences all over the world. Dr Nomonde Mbatani (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) was in Colombia, Associate Professor Ameeta Jaga was in Malta and Dr Zarina Patel (Environmental and Geographical Sciences) was in Sweden and the United States.

Dr Robert Morrell, Director of NGP, recently published a book on Southern Theory which raises questions about global knowledge inequalities and identifies and analyses the long reach of colonialism and imperialism.

Finally, this issue turns to the road-running activities of members. The NGP has developed a tradition of early morning runs at its writing retreats and takes pride in the achievements of Freedom Gumedze finishing his second Comrades Marathon and Zarina Patel completing her 100th Parkrun.

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