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VC’s last term – a solid foundation for tomorrow


The NMMU Council announced on 22 February that Vice-Chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz has indicated that he will not be seeking renewal of his contract at the end of 2017 as he wishes to pursue other professional and academic interests. Council was made aware of his decision at the start of his second term of office, in January 2013. 

VC’s last term – a solid foundation for tomorrow.


Professor Swartz served as VC for two successive and successful terms from January 2007, a role and position that he has held with great distinction. He also has the distinction of being the longest serving VC currently in South Africa and has brought a wealth of experience in regard to higher education, research and innovation, as well as social change.

During his terms of office, NMMU scored a number of landmark achievements that took the University well beyond the challenges associated with the ‘merger’ years. Some of the major achievements include:

  • Growth in overall student numbers from 22 661 in 2008 to over 27 848 in 2016, whilst graduation numbers rose from 4464 in 2008 to 6258 in 2016;
  • Massive increase in postgraduate student intake, from 2914 in 2008 to 4162 in 2016;
  • Research output productivity rose from 504 838 to 897 857 total weighted research output units from 2008 to 2016, with 12 new prestigious Research Chairs, two A-rated; nine B-rated and dozens of C-rated scientists joining NMMU’s ranks;
  • Total number of permanent staff grew from 1524 to 2154 in the same period, with numbers of black staff rising from 42.3% to 59.7%, and women comprising 56.8% and men at 43.18% of total workforce in the same period;
  • Total recurrent income in 2008 stood at R1.063b, by 2015 this rose to R2.052b, a 93% increase in revenue; total fixed asset value rose from R1.404b to R3.026b by 2015, registering a 115% increase over this period;
  • Total financial aid contributions, in the form of bursaries and loans, rose from around R250m in 2008 to over R600m by 2016;
  • Expansion of NMMU with the formation of a new Ocean Sciences Campus, and with this, attracting over R1.2b worth of new marine and maritime investment commitments to date;
  • Converting NMMU’s Bird Street Campus into a dedicated Arts and Culture campus, with a new Art Gallery, to support the creative arts sector;
  • Successful campaign to establish South Africa’s 10th Medical School at NMMU by 2020;
  • Modernisation of the Missionvale Campus and the George Campus, on the back of over R350m of capital investments from 2008 to date;
  • Securing ministerial approval of a name change to Nelson Mandela University, key to repositioning and rebranding the University globally.

Under his leadership, NMMU launched over fifteen (15) cutting-edge centres and institutes aimed at discovery, application and innovation in the natural and human sciences. In the humanities, these include CANRAD (Centre for Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy), Centre for Community Schools, (CIPSET) Centre for Post-School Education and Training, FishFORCE Academy, Refugee Rights Centre, Family Business Unit, Govan Mbeki Maths Unit, and (SAIMI) the South African International Maritime Institute.

Over the last decade Prof Swartz raised well over R2billion.  This new funding paved the way for the most far-reaching capital expansion in property, plant and intellectual capital since the original creation of the University. Examples of these, to name a few, include three new Libraries, one Science Complex, a new Business School, two Engineering Buildings, one new Education Complex, a Biokinetics Complex, an Atomic High Resolution Centre, and three large Lecture Hall complexes in Port Elizabeth and George. His personal fundraising campaigns, climbing mountains in Peru and Japan, to raise money for needy students also set him in a unique league as a university leader.

Alumni Association President, Dr Randall Jonas stated that Prof Swartz is a visionary of rare ilk. As VC he recognized that Alumni is a very important stakeholder group that represents NMMU’s global footprint and was responsible for the establishment of the Alumni Relations Directorate to ensure that alumni interests are represented and relations with this permanent stakeholder are strengthened.


Telephone: +27(0)41 504 3935 | Fax: +27(0)41 504 2574 / 1417 | E-mail: alumni@mandela.ac.za

PO Box 77000 | Nelson Mandela University | Port Elizabeth | 6031 | South Africa

© NMMU 2011