The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) integral role in the revival of the South African Association of Senior Student Affairs Professionals (SAASSAP) was recently acknowledged during the body’s inaugural annual awards ceremony.
Pura Mgolombane, the executive director of UCT’s Department of Student Affairs (DSA) and SAASSAP secretary general, received the National Executive Committee (NEC) Special Award for his commitment to and excellence in fulfilling his role at SAASSAP. UCT also received the Affiliation Award for being the university with the most SAASSAP members.
“The next step is to make sure that UCT’s participation increases,” said Mgolombane. “We as UCT’s DSA want to showcase the work we are doing in support of Vision 2030. This includes advancing transformation, social and financial sustainability and excellence in various areas of DSA, namely: financial aid, student wellness services, student development and student housing and residence life.”
“Ultimately, as DSA we want to liberate the soul for well-being and flourishing. Hence our motto: “3R=F [Ad Infinitum]. That is to say: Rekindle the dying embers of the soul; rehabilitate the soul in order for the soul to radiate. Once the soul radiates, we will flourish ad infinitum.”
The inaugural SAASSAP Awards were preceded by a two-day roundtable in which delegates discussed issues with and best practices for student affairs and services in higher education.
Both the awards and roundtable were a huge milestone for the association, which Mgolombane described as having been in an intensive care unit (ICU) prior to 2019, when it was revived by a group of passionate student affairs professionals from various universities.
“It was crucial for the sub-sector that SAASSAP be resuscitated.”
“The NEC at the time wasn’t functioning as it should,” he explained. “But during a leadership development conference here in Cape Town where we met as deans, executive directors and directors, it was decided that it was crucial for the sub-sector that SAASSAP be resuscitated.”
In 2019, a follow-up meeting was held at the University of Pretoria where the revival was put into motion and, later that year, during an annual general meeting, the new NEC was elected.
Mgolombane was elected as secretary general and has been working tirelessly ever since to ensure that SAASSAP becomes a vibrant, context-driven and world-renowned, professional association for student affairs.
During his term, which ends in 2024, membership has increased from a dismal few to 25 out of 26 South African universities.
During his announcement of Mgolombane’s special award, SAASSAP President Sibusiso Chalufu said: “This office of yours is actually the engine of this organisation. It’s been more than two years to get this organisation out of the ICU that it was in. It was just a question of pulling the plug and it could have been gone.”
Mgolombane concluded: “We and our industry colleagues are very excited that SAASSAP is up and running and that we are starting to see the fruits. It’s really an important vehicle for sharing ideas and growing as student affairs professionals.”
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