Prof Kupe on The UP Way

Posted on July 05, 2019

We’re in the process of launching a fantastic new campaign over the next few weeks which brings together all the elements that make the University of Pretoria not only one of the world’s best universities, but also hold a really special place in our community’s heart. We caught up with Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, to find out more about The UP Way.
TV: Prof Kupe, what is The UP Way?
VC: The UP Way is our way of life at the University of Pretoria, it’s our focus on excellence and change. It is our way of teaching and learning, research, innovate, and the ways we have impact on society. It also about living a life that’s responsible, ethical, socially and environmentally conscious.
The UP Way is to continuously embrace excellence and change and co-creates inclusive, enabling and nurturing cultures that are necessary for a thriving institution that transforms society and makes a contribution to the world. It is who we are as a university and the aspirational and transformative impact which we have on society.

TV: What does The UP Way comprise of?
VC: The UP Way encompasses everything we do to produce a high calibre of graduates. Everything we do at UP seeks to be holistic and is driven by our values. This includes the support systems we have in place to help our graduates to finish on time. It’s how we teach and learn through the hybrid learning methodology where students learn in formal class, access additional class notes and resources online, or do their own research and enquiry and practice their skills in real-world through community engagement programmes. Our students and staff are critical, creative and innovative thinkers who have a transformative impact on the world through creating knowledge and embarking on innovative research.
Our way of life at UP is one in which we uphold the strongest ethical values in everything that we do, and practice tolerance, respect and acknowledge the dignity of everyone.
Of critical importance is the impact we have to transform society – by growing our community to become increasingly reflective of the global diversity of our society – so that we have South Africans from all backgrounds, Africans from our continent and people from the rest of the world who contribute diverse knowledge forms, ideas, views, skills and voices to our teaching and learning, research and social engagement. They should find us to be the warm, equitable and inclusive community that we are.

TV: How does The UP Way campaign fit into what we already do?
VC: The UP Way is a broad theme of excellence and change, perseverance and higher order thinking and our students and graduates are very capable of this. We also have numerous other support systems in place which each have their own campaigns, but are all essentially part of The UP Way of doing things.
This includes the call to encourage students to graduate on time (FLY @ UP), students to sign up for the free, online work readiness programmes (Ready for Work) or learn to start their own businesses (Entrepreneurship) on ClickUP.
Our students have access to a host of online resources available to them to study and revise at their own pace, as well as apply their knowledge practically (Hybrid Learning).
Our staff encourage students to give back to communities and apply their knowledge and skills in communities through community engagement projects which form part of our curriculum. This transforms and uplift communities and also makes our students aware of real social challenges. All of these qualities are part of our ethos at UP.
As a University, we are conscious of our environmental impact and have numerous greening initiatives, sustainable development and recycle (from waste to water) as much as possible and use renewable energy as well. 

TV: Each of these campaigns have a big impact on students, but what does The UP Way mean for staff?
VC: THE UP WAY is as much about students as it is about staff. It’s about valuing and creating enabling and nurturing conditions for staff to make a contribution to the success of the institution.
Every day we meet alumni who fondly remember their lecturers or a kind support service staff member who helped them. People remember these actions and gestures of kindness, and it is something they take with them on their journey.
Staff at UP are really efficient, I can safely say that it is an institutional culture to try to get things right the first time around. This isn’t always possible, but this culture of achieving excellence and going the extra mile for everyone is an amazing thing to be part of.
This is what our alumni around the world remember. It is the warmth, care, and the love and passion that our staff put into their work that makes UP such a special place. Even in trying circumstances, our staff have always tried to make a plan to do the best they can. This requires commitment and speaks to the heart and soul of what’s the essence of THE UP WAY, in turn this commitment and care inspires students and graduates to emulate which has an added transformative element in the workplace, businesses and society by imbuing these environments with our UP ethos and our UP Way of thinking, living and being.
TV: What do you want to see from staff with regard to The UP Way?
VC: Embrace it! It’s who we are, it’s what we do, it’s how we make today matter, it’s how we impact the future through the excellence that we reach for today, it’s how we innovate and change lives and it’s simply our ethos. I’d love to see more staff wear our name with pride and to understand that unlike many other universities, UP is truly a home. It’s not just classrooms where students have a lecture and go home. It’s the entire experience of excellence and achieving success at UP and the care and concern that everyone has for each other that uplifts and inspires us.
- Author Shakira Hoosain

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