EMS celebrates its successes

Posted on December 15, 2021

The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) at the University of Pretoria (UP) celebrated its staff and student achievements at a virtual ceremony on Monday, 13 December 2021.

The annual celebrations recognise the Faculty’s excellence in research, teaching and learning, as well as accolades achieved by staff and students.

The 2020 academic year presented academics and students an interesting challenge with the transition to online teaching and learning, which called for great agility and adaptability to successfully complete the year. Although this was challenging, the Faculty managed to shine and propel its vision and mission, said Professor Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, Dean of the Faculty of EMS during her welcome address. She lauded the tenacity and commitment of staff members for yet another successful year.

“The successes of the Faculty in the past year would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of our academic and professional staff. Thank you to every staff member that made the Faculty shine, despite the challenges of the year. You strove for excellence in your research, teaching and academic citizenship amidst a global pandemic. Your resilience and adaptability are truly commendable,” she expressed.

The COVID-19 pandemic created an opportunity for the Faculty to establish innovative digital tools in a quest to enhance teaching and learning methods and enable support to students in a new academic environment. Prof Theuns Steyn, Acting Deputy Dean for Teaching and Learning, said the implementation of digitally enhanced teaching modalities was one of the biggest teaching and learning successes in the past year.

  Profs Karin Barac, Theuns Steyn and Margaret Chitiga Mabugu during EMS virtual year-end celebration

Some of the digital tools which were successfully employed by the lecturers in EMS included the use of virtual reality (VR) technology to provide students with context and to develop their soft skills, the use of gamification software to promote risk and ethical awareness amongst students, and the use of e-filing software to simulate the real-world application of tax legislation. In addition to these, data visualisation software, supply chain management simulation software and interactive online competitive interplay software for strategic management simulations were also used by lectures. Prof Steyn presented the 2020 EMS Teaching Awards to four academics, Fanie Walters, Prof Hanneke du Preez, Tanya Hill and Prof Melanie Wiese.

Research in the Faculty has been thriving, said Prof Karin Barac, Deputy Dean for Research and Postgraduate Studies. “The Faculty increased its number of NRF-rated researchers to 40. The number of researchers with an H-index of 16 or more has increased to 18, and with EMS’ emphasis on publication in high-quality international journals, this figure will increase,” said Prof Barac. Her focus for 2022 is to bolster research outputs through numerous initiatives.

Prof Barac congratulated EMS researchers for placing Faculty on the global map through their recognitions from national and international bodies such as the Regional Affairs of the International Association for Energy Economics, the Economic Society of South Africa, and the South African Institute of Professional Accountants. She announced the 2020 EMS best researchers.

The Department of Taxation was awarded for the Most Improved Departmental Research Output. Dr Jesse Naidoo received the 2020 First Journal Article Publication Award. The 2020 Best Junior Researcher in Management Sciences was awarded to Dr Tinashe Ndoro and Prof Elizabeth du Preez. The 2020 Best Junior Researcher in Financial Sciences was awarded to Naomi Wilkinson. Dr Nicky Nicholls was awarded the 2020 Best Junior Researcher in Economic Sciences. The 2020 Best Senior Researcher in Management Sciences went to Prof Melanie Wiese, who recently delivered her inaugural lecture on consumer decision-making. Prof Annet Oguttu won the 2020 Best Senior Researcher in Financial Sciences Award, and the 2020 Best Senior Researcher in Economic Sciences Award was awarded to Prof Roula Inglesi-Lotz, who also recently delivered her inaugural lecture on international energy transitions and the role of institutions and market structures.

Prof Rangan Gupta won the 2020 Researcher of the Year Award. Prof Gupta, who has won the award for seven consecutive years since 2014, is one of two UP researchers listed in the prestigious Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers List 2021.

The student throughput rate is another highlight of the Faculty. This year, EMS produced 32 doctoral graduates, including nine staff members. These were part of the 2 583 students who graduated this year. Of these, 142 students graduated with distinction. Another highlight this year, is that EMS retained the number one spot in the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Initial Test of Competence (ITC) professional examinations and made history with the 2020 final-year group that achieved an unprecedented 100% pass rate in the April 2021 exams.

- Author Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences
Published by Refilwe Mabula

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