Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Reflection on day one

Monday 2 July was my first day as Dean of Informatics and Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (http://www.cput.ac.za/). Like Jan van Riebeeck I am also keeping a diary of my voyage to the Cape of Good Hope. The purpose of this blog is to keep a record of what is happening in the first few days. Also there may be some of my friends, past students and colleagues who might want to know what is happening. Then of course it is for those who will be working with me now - to give them an idea of what is happening so that they can plan, and comment, and generally engage in discussion about the future of the Faculty.

So, the first day is over, and what an exciting experience it was.

It started with an SMS from Juan pointing out to me that there was an amazing sunrise, and a full moon. They had even arranged a break in the wet Cape winter for the Pretorian.

Juan and I greeted with a hug - considering that we had already been corresponding for two weeks, and she had had to do a huge amount of phoning and organising.

She had already put me into contact with Retha, Johann, CV and Colin.

The view from my office is amazing!

Then I got a hug from Mel. She was just happy to see me and couldn't believe I could start so quickly. Both vice rectors came to call! Mandla Tshabalala and Anthony Staak came to welcome me, and it was good to hear of student affairs, and also to get an initial briefing of how things work.

Then we got to do real work, with a long meeting with CV Botha.

The good news is that the Faculty is running well. There are still some post-merger blues to deal with, but they are less, rather than more, and they are administrative rather than "political".

The most encouraging aspect of the day was to learn that the staff are ready for, and looking forward to, embarking on the challenge of developing a research tradition in the faculty. There's none of this "I was appointed to teach, why should I do research" stuff.

Then there's the question that everybody's asking: "What are you going to do with the Faculty?"

So, here is my end of day one reply:

1. I am going to work very hard to establish a culture of research.

2. I am going to re-examine the work loads of lecturers, particularly in terms of teaching and admin, to free up research time for them. The workload will be reduced if we re-think our teaching practices and make it more efficient. We need to think DVD, iPod, SMS, Web. The admin will be reduced if we can automate systems, and make use of more assistants. And the money for the assistants will come form ... subsidies generated from research outputs!

On a more personal note. I am sleeping stoksielalleen in the little 3 bedroomed cottage, with a duvet and a pillow, and my sleeping bag as only cover. And it gets so cold that the cold actually sticks to your skin. But when the move arrives the heater will arrive with it and then I will be able to thaw.

The car arrived late on Monday evening, so now I can drive with the top down when the sun shines, and enjoy the luxury of the ever-present Cape scenery.
And that is the story of Day One. Tomorrow: The great entrance lobby debate...


Dr Pam Miller said...

Welkom in die Cape. Keep up with the blog. (I have added you to my Blog Reader.) Hope to make contact soon.

Markus said...

Hallo Johannes!

Interessante strategie vir die fakulteit. By Rhodes streef ons na die teenoorgestelde: aiming to establish a culture that values teaching as a legitimate academic activity! Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Loer tog so af en toe in by Cheryl daar by UCT. Kan steeds nie glo dat sy nie meer by Rhodes is nie.

Mooibly en geniet die Kaap.


rob said...

Welcome Johannes and Franci I hope the settling in goes okay...

go well
Rob Mckay

Johannes Cronje said...

Thanks, Markus for your comment!
I don't think that I am not valuing teaching. I just think that we are teaching too much, and students are learning too little. You will remember that I made you guys do all the work when you were in my Masters' classes - I want to develop similar strategies of ensuring that students learn by doing, and that lecturers learn from students by way of reflective practice - a form of research in itself.

Johannes Cronje said...

Thanks Pam and Rob for your good wishes. I will be in touch soon!

Jenny Tibbits said...

Dear Prof Jan van Riebeeck II, Don't repeat the past error of JvR 1's days of 'BNL' (Before nano-learning)... ditch the 'Black and White" and go rainbow with sound!