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Rhodes University
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Donovan Neale-May
Chairman of the Board of Trustees

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Funding Needs

Dear Rhodes University Alumni

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to render face-to-face learning and teaching impossible for the foreseeable future. We have had to devise ways, with a complete sense of urgency, for teaching and learning to continue remotely.

As you would recall a Covid-19 Relief Fund was launched by the university in April to mitigate some of the financial challenges that we may face as we enter this unchartered territory. We have been heartened by the support and generosity of our alumni who have rallied behind the cause across the globe. The fund has generated just over R400,000 to date and we continue to receive donations on a daily basis and we remain indebted for this act of kindness and ubuntu.

At this stage the vast majority of our students would still be expected to continue learning remotely and support to ensure that no student is left behind is of paramount importance to the university. We would like to request that you continue to help us navigate the space. Any financial contribution would go a long way in helping us continue the rollout of flexible remote/online teaching and learning.

Donations can be made to the following bank account

Account name: Rhodes University
Bank: First National Bank
Account Number: 62145508894
Branch: Grahamstown
Branch Code: 210717
Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ
Reference: COVID-19 Relief Fund + Initials and Surname
Email POP to development@ru.ac.za

Regards and stay safe


Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela introduction to Isivivane Fund

20th October 2017

Dear Honorary Life Governors and Board of Governors

In June this year, we launched the Isivivane Fund, the largest and most ambitious fundraising campaign in the 113-year history of Rhodes University. We have set ourselves a target of raising R1 billion in 10 years; reflective of the harsh reality that our needs and those of our students far exceed available resources.

This fund is an integrated approach to building and maintaining life-long relationships with stakeholders based on unique partnerships and is inspired by the Zulu saying “ukuphosa itshe esivivaneni” (to throw one’s stone on a pile or monument) or to make a personal contribution to a great common cause. It calls on us to ask what we stand for, what institutional commitments we will make to define who we are and who we will be decades and centuries from now.

Today I want to share with you my belief that the Isivivane Fund will enhance and enable Rhodes to educate tomorrows leaders today. When I was installed as Principal and Vice-Chancellor, I made two important commitments.

Firstly, to make sure that Rhodes University is accessible to students from rural and working class families and

Secondly, that I would make it my personal mission to ensure no academically deserving student who is in financial need is turned away from Rhodes University. This is no longer my commitment but that of our University and we believe that students with academic ability and will to succeed should be able to obtain a Rhodes degree. This is not a public relations exercise but a commitment that we want to be a university that is fully committed to accepting and supporting the most deserving students, regardless of their financial backgrounds or circumstances.

We are challenged to meet the demands of change - change that comes at us with increasing speed and unpredictability. This fund presents us with the opportunity and the necessity to seize the future in ways that will fulfil Rhodes’ enduring promise to our students and our society. Seizing that impatient future is the goal of the Isivivane Fund. For me, the real triumph lies in our ability to honour and rival the efforts of those who have bequeathed this exceptional institution to us, and to strengthen it to an extraordinary one.

As fellow Governors, I ask you to be part of that CHANGE by casting your own stone on the cairn and create a motivating vision for the future. As a South African taxpayer, you will be issued with an appropriate tax receipt which will entitle you to a tax rebate at the end of the 2017/18 Tax Year (28/02/2018).

There are various ways that you can contribute to this cause:

  • Isivivane Fund Ambassadors - Open the doors for University in your companies or other companies/trusts/foundations/philanthropists that support Student Financial Aid.
  • Contributing to Isivivane’s Endowerment Fund to increase our SFA reserves and be able to award scholarships in perpetuity after 10 years. We encourage our Senior Management, Council members, BoG, and Trustees to give through this fund.
  • Contributions can be done as follows:
    • Monthly over 10 years (from R500 per month)
    • Yearly over 10 years (from R5000 a year)

Please download the pledge form and I sincerely hope that you will accede to my request. For more information please contact our Development & Fundraising Manager, Mr Qondakele Sompondo q.sompondo@ru.ac.za; 046 603 7015.

I hope I can count on you.
Dr Sizwe Mabizela

Download Pledge Form(PDF)


Fundraising For Life Science And School Of Languages Projects

There are significant opportunities for Old Rhodians to assist two major fundraising projects in the fields of life science and languages. Both will significantly elevate the role played by the university in the advancement of South Africa's global competitiveness in life science innovation and the improvement of multilingualism and cross-cultural understanding across the African continent:

Life Science Leadership & New Facilities

New Life Sciences HubRhodes University has a strong reputation for undertaking advanced and relevant life science programs, based on an interdisciplinary approach to education that values scholarship, research and development, and service opportunities. Since its inception, the Science Faculty has managed to provide an outstanding educational experience for students, even as facilities have aged.

Much of the challenges facing humankind have changed in the last few decades and have impelled Rhodes to engage in research that is more relevant and will offer workable, low-cost and effective solutions to the various environmental, health and other issues affecting us as members of the global community. Rhodes research activities are now dedicated to responsible and sustainable development, in an effort to be one of the world's top knowledge producers.

Currently, the Science Faculty houses the first ever DST/Mintek-NIC sensors Innovation center on the continent, as well as three other NRF/DST SARChi Chairs. In recent years, the Rhodes life science departments have attracted increasing numbers of talented young researchers. Newer areas of study such as Bioinformatics have been developed, especially in applied research and growth of biotechnology at the post- graduate level.

Another exciting and important initiative is the development of an MSc in Forensic Evidence, which is an inter-faculty collaboration that builds on the strengths of Entomology, Commerce and Law. While the Rhodes research expertise has kept up with relevant issues, its existing facilities can no longer support this rate of growth or deliver the level in interdisciplinary scientific interaction that the research programs demand.

It has become necessary to construct a state-of-the-art Life Sciences hub that will provide collaborative interdisciplinary simulations spaces that will help prepare students to work in an ever more complex research environment, underpinning South Africa's move towards a more knowledge-based economy.

Such a new space will also offer an inter-disciplinary collaborative facility that will provide an ideal environment for students to conduct relevant research, which will increase the country's competitiveness in science and innovation, under the supervision of several A-rated scientists. The complex will also provide for revitalized teaching spaces that will use the latest technology and can support hands-on activities, as well as promoting innovation and outreach to serve the wider community.

The 2011-2013 Rhodes enrolment plan approved by the Department of Higher Education and Training prioritizes growth at the postgraduate level, especially in sciences. To this end the Department has made available R178.09 million for the construction of a new Life Sciences building. Additional funding is being sought to cover the R20 million still needed to complete the project.



World-Class School of Languages

New School of Languages BuildingThe vision for the School of Languages is to become the leading School of Languages on the African Continent. In particular, this will relate to the teaching of African languages and the promotion of Multilingualism. There will also be an emphasis on globalization and the place of particularly African Languages within a globalizing context.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Training in their Language Policy for Higher Education (November 2002) recognizes that a key and necessary priority for South Africa is a knowledgeable and highly skilled graduate that is well equipped not only to respond to societal needs but to actively contribute to the social and economic development of our culturally and linguistically diverse country.

The School of languages places particular emphasis on the development and provision of appropriate teaching programs and support materials for the development of academic literacy amongst students who have English as an additional language.

The total cost of the new School of Languages building is expected to be R55.32 million, including construction, furniture & and equipment. A substantial funding commitment of R49.788 million has been made by the Department of Higher Education and Training. The balance will need to be raised through foundation grants, private sector sponsorship or alumni donations.





Manager of Alumni Relations at Rhodes University.

How is Rhodes handling and prioritizing the growing number of financial aid requests from students?

  • Sound academic performance
  • Proven financial need
  • Willingness to make a minimal financial commitment to the University to pay fees
  • Mostly South African citizens
  • Signing of the acknowledgement of debt in instances where the family is unable to settle fees in full by the end of the academic year. This is done to ensure that academically sound students are permitted to progress to the next academic level so that the University is able to collect the funds once they have graduated and secured permanent employment.

In addition to the above the University’s Isivivane Fund makes it possible for the University to tap into new money predominantly from the government SETAs which was not the case in the past. In the previous academic year R7.3 million was raised via Isivivane from the various SETAs to assist 64 students with funding ranging from R80,000 to full funding.

The Vice-Chancellor also provides a guarantee for students with strong academic performance for them to be able to register. The guarantee is not in monetary terms but rather a waiver for them to be able to register on the strength of their academic performance. During the course of the academic year some of those students are able to secure full funding through our fundraising efforts.

Download full interview PDF


The Neilen Locke Coaching Award

The Neilen Locke Coaching Award, made possible by a generous donation from U.S. Old Rhodian Donovan Neale-May, will be awarded to an individual who has been an outstanding coach for Rhodes University for at least two years. Sports Clubs may nominate and advocate for their coach using the qualities listed below as a guideline.



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