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University of Zululand: Vice Chancellor

Prof. Rachel Vuyiswa Gumbi

Prof. Rachel Vuyiswa Gumbi is the fifth Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zululand. She is the first woman to hold this position at the University of Zululand.

Prior to this appointment since May 2003, Prof. Gumbi was Chief Director: Human Resource Development, at the National Department of Health between 1996 and 2003.This position also entailed that Prof. Gumbi was to monitor the application of the Equity Act, Human Resource Management Policy Parameters, Education and Training of Health Personnel (multidisciplinary, health profession liaison with Health Councils, professional associations, non-governmental organizations, employee organizations including unions). Support of the provinces regarding resource planning including Human Resources. Between 1998 and 2000, Prof. Gumbi continued to serve the University of Zululand as a member of its Council.

This officer holds the following diploma’s and degrees : Registration as a General and Psychiatric Nurse, Midwife, Nurse Educator, BA (Curationis), majors in Nursing Administration and Community Health, Masters in Community Health (University of Liverpool, UK), research in Maine, USA, Doctor of Literature and Philosophy (UNISA).

Dr Gumbi’s illustrious academic career started at the University of Zululand where she worked as a lecturer, and was soon promoted to senior lecturer in the department of Nursing Science. In 1988 she took the position of Professor and Head of the Departments of Health Education and Nursing Science at the University of Transkei.

Mavi first qualified as a teacher but never taught for even a month! Her first work experience began in 1961 when she trained and worked as a registered nurse, General and Psychiatry and a registered midwife. By 1975 she had worked her way up to become a tutor at King Edward VIII Hospital’s College of Nursing.

Prof. Gumbi’s achievements include acting as advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and currently chairs the Global Advisory Group on Nursing and Midwifery (the six regions of the world). She also became the first Black President of the South African Nursing Council, a position she held from 1995 to 2003. The following are some of her awards over the years: British Council, Kellogg Fellow, South African Medical and Dental Practitioners Award for Leadership and the Chicago State University’s Award for Leadership in 2003, Black Management Forum (BMF) Award 2006 for Leadership and Transformation, July 2007 Dr Manto Tshabalala Award for Leadership in Health.

Her appointment to serve in various Boards has given her a broader scope re: the leadership acumen. She served, amongst others, in the Oliver Tambo Fellowship, the Medical Education for South African Blacks (MESAB), the Medical Research Council, Global Human Resource Forum (WHO) etc. Prof. Gumbi is well travelled in Africa, Canada, USA, UK, Europe, India, Asia etc. and has also visited and trained in a number of overseas institutions and countries. She has addressed both national and international audiences.

Prof. Gumbi’s drive has resulted in her establishing numerous rural and urban community empowerment initiatives, including being one of the founder members in the University of Transkei Community Partnerships resulting in four health centres with resource facilities for education, community empowerment and experiential learning for health personnel. An avid researcher and scholar, Rachel is passionate about, and is in the forefront of, the current debates related to the transformation of the Higher Education sector in South Africa. Her research interests are understandably rooted in the fields of health, personnel education, primary health, interactive education, leadership in public service and education, empowerment of the youth and women.

The eight years of policy-making have contributed to her management and leadership attributes which have been a pillar for the success story in the reconfiguration process of this rural based higher education institution as a team effort with the University Council, colleagues, students and the community (local, national and global); with support from the Government (national, provincial and local).