Prof Govender holds a Doctorate in Entomology from the University of Pretoria. He has more than three decades of experience in higher education, particularly in research and innovation, having worked in various positions at leading universities in South Africa.
“Traditionally, the core functions of universities rest on three pillars, namely, teaching and learning, community engagement, and research. Now, if you look at all leading universities, their status and rankings are strongly driven by research. This is not to say that the other areas are of less value, but to generate knowledge and innovation, a university must have a robust research approach. Ultimately, meaningful and relevant research should contribute to socio-economic development of the country,” remarked Prof Govender.
His new position requires that he oversees areas of institutional planning, international relations, communications and marketing, project services, amongst others. Prof Govender is excited about this new engagement and placed emphasis on NUST’s research priority areas.
“Whilst the University promotes the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), we must be mindful that even if we are addressing a STEM problem, we can do so from a multidisciplinary perspective, so all disciplines or specialisations are important in research,” he said.
Prof Govender acknowledged that a global challenge facing academics is research funding. However, he cautioned that exceptional performance attracts better incentives; therefore if researchers develop a competitive edge, funding will become more accessible. “Awards attract awards,” he said.
Prior to this appointment, Prof Govender was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (de facto): Research, Postgraduate Studies and Innovation, at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in South Africa.