New Dean of Students appointed

The new Dean of Students says her passion for student affairs led her to CPUT.

Prem Coopoo, a seasoned student developer with a master’s degree in social work, joined CPUT last month.

She intends to develop a holistic student development plan and that starts with coming up with a framework that will guide each of the departments reporting to her on what is expected of them.

“Everyone needs to know that we need to be student-centred and contribute to student success and not hinder it. Each one should ask themselves ‘are we promoting student success or are we hindering it?’ ”

CPUT is a good institution which is robust with strong union involvement,” says Coopoo who has previously held the position of Dean of Students at both Wits and the North West University in the last 14 years.

During her reign CPUT students can expect a supportive and responsive environment which is proactive rather than reactive.

“They can also expect strict adherence to the university’s rules because we need to assist them with acquiring certain soft skills and if we don’t enforce compliance to our rules we won’t be helping them develop the right skills not only for the world of work but also life in general.”

She adds that students will have an opportunity to become the good citizens of the world. “We will provide the programmes but the responsibility lies with the students to grab the opportunity to grow and develop, so they can expect a positive student experience throughout their career at CPUT and beyond.”

She says that the university would like for its graduates to return for postgraduate studies or be involved in university life as alumni.

The dean is interested in creating “high performing residences”. These should be places of learning where students have a 100% chance of excelling academically and personally, where no violation of any residence rule will be tolerated.

“CPUT must encourage student activism through affiliation with clubs, organisations and student societies with very clear outcomes.”

Security in Service

Newly appointed Director of Risk and Protection Services Gavin Solomons has quickly become a familiar sight around CPUT Campuses.

Solomons has visited all the CPUT campuses but is basing himself in Bellville for the moment to do his own long term assessment of needs and shortcoming, working alongside campus protection officers as they control access to that campus.

Though he started during recess, Solomons was thrown in on the deep end when he had to make a presentation to protection services employees in only his first week.

He used it as an opportunity to ask them how they want to be perceived and what their own goals were for campus protection services.

He sees this as his starting point as he reviews standard operating procedures dealing with everything from campus evacuation plans to guidelines for bringing more women into the campus protection services’ management structures.

“The whole idea is to make a better CPUT,” said Solomons.

His first job was as a security guard so he has insight into what it takes to guard a building in the dark or be the one running towards the loud bang.

Solomons took up this particular CPUT job because he relishes the challenge of changing how people view the institution, seeing it as so much more than just making sure campus protection officers are posted at optimal vantage points.

“It is to minimise risk and liability against the university. It’s not just guarding the property and buildings, but the brand. That is what risk assessment is and if we work here we are all brand ambassadors of CPUT,” said Solomons.

He comes to CPUT from Cape Town City’s Traffic Services where he managed traffic enforcement and flow management. He had originally started in law enforcement in 1990.

Solomons experienced the #FeesMustFall protests first hand as a student since he completed his Masters degree in public management at CPUT in 2017.

He graduated with a thesis entitled ‘Measuring the Performance of the Integrated Development Plan in a selected Metropolitan council in the Western Cape, South Africa’ and has already started planning his PhD studies working out a universal code of conduct for public servants.

Now that he is working at CPUT though Solomons is considering using what he learns on the job as possible research material, maybe even working out a model for campus protection services that would serve as a blueprint for other South African universities.

Written by Theresa Smith

New appointments

The finance structures of the institution have been given a vital boost thanks to two recent Director level appointments. Gregory Otieno takes over the Procurement reigns while Vincent Jones will be the first Director of Internal Auditing appointed at CPUT.

The recent protest action and the impact of a 0% fee increase in 2016 will see all departments tightening their belts making both their portfolios even more critical to the smooth financial management of the institution.

Otieno says he is excited to join the higher education sector since the bulk of his experience to date has been in corporate procurement fine tuning his expertise in logistics, supply chain and operation management.

“Having worked within the private business environment I longed for an opportunity to expand my experience within the public space and CPUT offered that opportunity. My impression of CPUT as an institution is that it comprises a society of great minds and people,” he says.

Far from being a number cruncher working behind the scenes Jones will be an integral advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on all issues of potential financial risk to the institution.

He brings 12 years of internal audit, risk evaluation and governance and forensic investigation skills to his new position and joins CPUT directly from National Department of Trade and Industry where he spent seven years in a Director position.

“Since the university never had an in-house Internal Auditor, I am looking forward to applying my knowledge and experience in establishing internal auditing practices and to develop a vision for a strategic internal audit process, addressing the key strategies and risks facing the institution.”