File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

MAKHANDA - Vice-Chancellor of the Rhodes University, Dr Sizwe Mabizela on Thursday warned graduates to serve the world with honour and virtue, avoiding the trap of unbridled pursuit of personal gain and gratification.

Addressing a multitude of graduates and the university's alumni at a prestigious ceremony -- the first of six graduation events running from Thursday to Saturday in Makhanda, formerly Grahamstown -- Mabizela cautioned against the betrayal of public trust.

"Whatever choices you make in life, never elevate personal ambition or single-minded pursuit of material or financial gain above everything else. There is no honour in the abuse of public trust for private or personal gain. Never allow the lure of instant gratification or convenience to cloud your good judgement," he said.

"Whatever the future holds for you, always strive to be the best that you can possibly be. Always strive to live a life of virtue, a life of consequence. However you choose to define success, fulfilment or happiness, never forget who you are or where you come from. Never forget those who have supported you; those who have stood by you through all your ups and downs."

Mabizela warned the graduates, as they initiate their roles in the public and corporate sectors, to always respect the communities they serve.

"However you choose to define success, fulfilment or happiness, never fail to treat others with respect, kindness and decency. However you choose to define success, fulfilment or happiness, never fail to pause once in a while to assess what it is that really matters in life and take time to appreciate little things in life," said the celebrated mathematician.

"In all that you do, may you be guided by the values of social justice, empathy, integrity, honesty, compassion and human solidarity. Always endeavour to brighten the corner where you. You have so much to offer the world! Never for a moment doubt your capacity to make a positive change in our society. Never allow the fear of failure to drive you into the safety and placidity of inaction," Mabizela emphasised.

"When I became the vice-chancellor of this great university I made a public commitment that we would make quality and transformative education to academically capable young people of our country accessible and affordable regardless of their financial circumstances."

Mabizela announced that the 2019 graduation ceremonies would be the final ones for some of the Rhodes University's top officials.

"Our deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Student Affairs, Dr Chrissie Boughey, and our public orator, Distinguished Professor Paul Maylam, will relinquish their roles in the course of the year 2019. Both of them have served our university loyally and with great honour, dedication and distinction for many years," said Mabizela.

"On behalf of our Chancellor [Justice Lex Mpati], council and the entire Rhodes University community, we wish to convey to you both our heartfelt appreciation and deep gratitude for all that you have done for our university. Our university is much the better for the immense contribution you have made over many years. We wish you well in the next phase of your ever-unfolding future."

A total of 2 321 graduates will be capped at the Rhodes University's ongoing three-day 2019 graduation ceremony in the Eastern Cape province.

This year, the respected university is churning out 89 PhD graduates, which include a 77-year-old botanist Yvette Van Wijk, who will be getting her postgraduate doctoral degree (PhD) in Botany. 

The Makhanda-based institution is this year celebrating a new record of 30 PhD degrees for the faculty of humanities, up from the previous record of 26 achieved last year.

University spokesperson Velisile Bukula told African News Agency (ANA) that the faculty of science has produced 38 PhD graduates, the faculty of commerce has three, the faculty of education having 16 PhDs, and the faculty of pharmacy has produced two graduates.

African News Agency (ANA)