Professor Zeblon Vilakazi new Wits vice chancellor
After months of speculation on who will take the reins from Professor Adam Habib as the vice-chancellor and principal, it was yesterday announced that Vilakazi would lead the university from January 2021.
He becomes the institution’s fifteenth Vice-Chancellor. Vilakazi is the current vice-principal and deputy vice-chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Studies at Wits, a position he held since April.
He joined the university in 2014 as the deputy vice-chancellor for research and postgraduate affairs. He also chairs South Africa’s National Quantum Computing Working Committee which seeks to develop a Framework for Quantum Computing and Quantum Technology-driven research and innovation in South Africa.
He is also instrumental in ensuring that Wits and other African universities have access to quantum computing networks.
Habib is leaving his position in December, and joining the United Kingdom-based School of Oriental and African Studies in January 2021.
This week, Vilakazi led the announcement that a team of Wits researchers were working with those from Oxford University and other parts of the world on human trials to try to find the vaccine for Covid-19.
Isaac Shongwe, Chairperson of the Wits Council, said: “Professor Zeblon Vilakazi is the epitome of a world-class researcher who is globally recognised for his scientific work, and for his contribution towards developing higher education in Africa.
“We are confident that Professor Vilakazi will ably lead Wits to its centenary in 2022 and beyond, steward a new vision for the academy, and reinvigorate the academic project in a higher education context that is rapidly changing.”
On his appointment, Vilakazi said: “I am committed to working with my esteemed colleagues, fellow academics and smart, savvy students to create new knowledge and to develop the high-level skills required to move South Africa, and our economy forward. We also need to continue to develop the originators, innovators and critical thinkers who can help us solve the problems of the 21st Century.”