Prof Pillay appointed to steer Theology and Religion
6 March 2018
Prof Jerry Pillay has been appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, with effect from 1 March 2018.
Prof Pillay joined the University of Pretoria in 2014 and has been the Head of the Department of Church History and Church Polity since 2015. He completed his BTh (Hon) and MTh (cum laude) at the University of KwaZulu Natal (formerly known as the University of Durban-Westville). He obtained a PhD at the University of Cape Town and in 2013 and was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Reformed University of Debrecen, in Hungary. He is widely recognised for his involvement and leadership in the ecumenical movements in South Africa and abroad and has a well-established profile as an international speaker and researcher.
As dean, Prof Pillay aims to build on the foundation and progress that has already been established in the Faculty. “My task would be to create a conducive environment for contextual and relevant research that would address significant issues in South Africa, Africa and the world at large.”
These issues include global poverty, economic challenges, water crisis, climate and environmental challenges, migration, racism, religious violence and justice, to name a few. Prof Pillay plans to encourage interdisciplinary, trans- disciplinary and collaborative research on these and other topics.
His vision is to direct integrated and holistic teaching and learning that encourages diversity, inclusivity, Africanism, and opportunity to engage with different challenges. Under his leadership, the Faculty will steer interactive, participatory and hybrid learning, using teaching methodologies that would encourage students to engage on challenging issues.
“I will continue to address the matter of transformation in the Faculty as I look at the issues of diversity, employment equity, gender imbalances. We have changed the Faculty name to Theology and Religion. We will look at possibilities of how we can work with other faiths, mainly in the area of research. For example, the issue of religious fundamentalism and violence is concerning. How can we address this together?,” he says.
Prof Pillay adds that students at all levels of study are the Faculty’s greatest priority. “To use the words of the Apostle Paul, ‘They are our crown and joy.’ As the new dean, I am committed to listen to our students, address their needs, shape our teaching and learning to help them grow personally in knowledge, exposure and experience. We want to produce the best academics, pastors and people who would help make a difference in society.”
The Faculty wants to offer its students the best possible training, so that they are well-equipped to meet the challenges they are confronted with in their respective fields of interest and profession. Prof Pillay asks the students to participate fully, put their passion into learning, be open-minded to new things, be prepared to be stretched and challenged, and embrace diversity.
“I encourage students to seek opportunities to mix with and learn from students of different cultural and racial backgrounds, exercise due diligence in your studies keeping to your assignment dates and studying for your exams. My dedicated and highly trained lecturers are ready to journey with you and give you their best – equally you should be motivated to do the same. Your success is our achievement! Have a great year of study!”
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