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NWU Excellence Awards

2021-2022 | Live Event
24 November 2022
18:00 PM

Provinces    3 Units    1 Awards Ceremony

The Event
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About the NWU Excellence Awards

Excellence is one of the NWU's values, which the University believes is vital to achieving its vision of being a world-class institution of higher learning. Our core business values have its DNA. 



This yearly award ceremony is among the most treasured occasions in our university calendar. It honours all our excellent academics across our three legs of the core business: Research and Innovation, Community Services and Teaching and Learning.  This auspicious occasion not only allows NWU to celebrate the achievements of these academics but also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the preceding year and address the whole community. 



We have many reasons to celebrate. This academic year has brought stability to our patterns of research, teaching, learning and community engagement, allowing our staff to interact in person with colleagues and communities and to be able to teach face-to-face. Thanks to technology, this year has also seen upgrades and transformations in teaching practices and improvements in engagement and experience. We have also joyfully watched as our students graduate in person after the Covid-19 pandemic put a screeching halt in ceremonies. As things are slowly returning to normal, it is worth reflecting on and celebrating the achievements of the past academic year. 



Through these awards, the University wants to applaud colleagues' fortitude in the face of complex changes. We want to acknowledge our dedicated staff for being able to continually adapt to the demands, remain resilient and successfully integrate technology and other demands into their teaching methods. As a result of your dedication the NWU can continue to seamlessly deliver excellent education amidst the mounting pressure of severe load shedding while also contributing to solutions to the crisis that faces us. 


These awards acknowledge the commitment of staff to making this University a dynamic and excellent place of research, learning and community. You truly enacted the University's ethos of excellence and integrity. These awards embody the values of excellence in teaching and learning, research and community engagement performance. These awards symbolise sacrifices, a positive attitude and commitment on your part. 


As we continue to build a culture of excellence in the University in line with our values, these awards should inspire the entire university community to excel. Ralph Marston once said, "Excellence…is not an act, but a habit." thank you for making excellence a habit. 

The Awards

Research and Innovation Awards

The NWU Excellence Awards in the domain of Research and Innovation recognise outstanding achievements of various categories of academics, from young and upcoming to emerging and seasoned, including academics with new and upgraded NRF ratings. The excellent performance of postgraduate students, our next generation of scientists, is celebrated by awarding the Vice Chancellor’s medal for the best master’s degree student in all Faculties to acknowledge efforts of study leaders and other academics in creating and sustaining a nurturing environment for these students. The S2A3 award for the best master’s degree is granted to a student in one of the three (3) Faculties: Engineering, Health Sciences, or Natural and Agricultural Sciences. 

Community Engagement Awards

Community engagement is part of our core business and is integrated into the university’s annual performance plan, our purpose and dream. The North-West University aims to make “an ethic of care” and “continuously contributing to social justice” part of our DNA and the graduates we deliver.

As such, we do not focus on charity only but aspire to enhance what our external partners are doing by utilising our expertise to find solutions to challenges faced by our communities. In fact, North-West University's core business activities can only be regarded as significant and sustainable if we, as the academic partner, succeed in actively engaging with our communities of interest and communities of practice to ensure that both the university’s expertise and the rich experiences of the people we serve are put to best possible use. Our drive towards sustainability goes beyond just focussing on ‘going green’ and has strong emphasis on social improvement and engagement that can empower our communities. One way of obtaining more permanent impact on the research agenda at the university can be through organising research activities based on the requests for advice from the user groups. Moving towards a stronger more scholarly approach for community engagement, a final renewing activity is the development of new course modules within community-oriented research and development, that is supported by teaching and learning.

NWU Teaching Excellence Awards

The North-West University (NWU) is renowned for Teaching Excellence; producing winners of the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) Distinguished Teaching Excellence Award in collaboration with the Council of Higher Education(CHE): National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards.  This is indeed a display of the most esteemed and celebrated university teachers in South Africa.  With a standing and continuous strive towards excellence in teaching and learning, the NWU was ranked as one of the best Teaching and Learning performing universities in South Africa. At the NWU, academic members, as university teachers, are invited to showcase excellent teaching contributions, by participating in the diverse NWU Teaching Awards yearly. 

Six new teaching awards were implemented in 2021.


The rationale for diversifying the teaching awards was to embrace diversity to create a platform for a larger group of academics to display their excellence in various fields of teaching and learning practices. More so, excellence in teaching is measured in various forms through these new awards. Embracing diversity in the teaching awards further contributes toward the inclusion of teachers in the university community and celebrates the uniqueness of each university teacher while remaining respectful of different cultures and teaching practices.  

The six new types of teaching awards include Faculty Teaching Award, Teaching with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Award, Innovation in Teaching and Learning Award, Online Teaching Award, Novice Teacher Award, and the University Teaching Excellence Award (UTEA).  As NWU Teaching Awards are part of the rewards and recognition programme, the value of excellence in all endeavors is shared, striving towards the achievement of high-quality standards in all doings that meet personal, university, community, as well as social expectations. In doing so, the NWU Teaching Awards promote and sustain a passion among academics for continuous learning, professional development in their career, as well as innovation in teaching and learning while maintaining a positive and productive work ethic, striving toward outputs and contributions that improve the quality of teaching and learning. In addition, we use it as an evaluative pedagogy to deepen our understanding of challenges and successes in the learning, teaching, and assessment space in the university arena.

The Categories
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The Speakers


CLAIRE Mawisa  


Claire is a seasoned broadcaster with a media career that spans 27 years and yields extensive experience in the television and radio sectors. She is a skilled master of ceremonies, public speaker, facilitator, media trainer and television presenter. After a successful modelling career Claire has been hosting television shows across several channels. She’s built a radio career both on and off the microphone at several radio stations. She serves as a Board Member of RX Radio and Ibis Reproductive Health and is also a World Wide Fund SA Ambassador. Claire is currently an investigative journalist on the popular current affairs programme Carte Blanche.

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Principal and Vice-Chancellor – North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Former Chief Executive Officer: National Nuclear Regulator, Centurion, South Africa


Just recently, on 01st June 2022, Dr Tyobeka was appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the North-West University in South Africa. In this role he acts as the Chief Accounting Officer responsible for the execution of the University’s core business, namely, teaching and learning, research and innovation, as well as community engagement. The North-West University is the third largest university in South Africa, and is ranked amongst the top seven universities in the country.
Prior to this appointment, Dr Tyobeka was appointed by the Minister of Energy as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Nuclear Regulatory of South Africa since September 2013, a position he held until 31 May 2022.

He started his nuclear career 22 years ago as a reactor Physicists at Eskom Enterprises, the South African Electricity Utility Company, before moving on to the roles of Senior Physicist at Eskom Enterprises, Chief Nuclear Engineering Analyst at PBMR Pty Ltd and Nuclear Engineer and Unit Head: Gas-Cooled Reactors at the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA in (Austria, Vienna). During his tenure at the IAEA Dr Tyobeka was also involved in the IAEA team that advises Member States in the development of new nuclear power programmes. He was involved with countries in Africa, South East Asia, Europe and Latin America. He has also been a visiting Scholar at the Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (Netherlands) and the International Research Associate (Idaho National Laboratory, USA).
Amongst many high profile national and international leadership roles; Dr Tyobeka was the Chairperson of the Council of the North-West University; since March 2017 until March 2022. He previously served as a Member of the University Council, including being a Chairperson of NWU Council’s Transformation Oversight Committee and Executive Committee of Council since November 2014.

Additionally Dr Tyobeka, as an internationally acclaimed nuclear engineering expert currently serves as the Member of the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG) appointed by the IAEA Director-General for the period 2016 – 2020. He also serves as a Chairman of the Regulatory Cooperation Forum under the auspices of the IAEA. He is also a member of the IAEA’s Technical Working Group on Nuclear Knowledge Management. In May 2017 at the International Atomic Energy Agency Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Dr Tyobeka was elected President of the 6th Review Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Safety of Spent Nuclear Fuel Management and Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (Joint Convention). He presided over the 6th Review Meeting during the period 21 May till 01 June 2018 and will continue to serve in this capacity for a three year term.
Dr Tyobeka was also appointed by the Minister of Trade and Industry as member of the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction for a period of five years, from 01 July 2019 to 30 June 2024.

He holds a Master’s degree and a PhD in Nuclear Engineering both from the Pennsylvania State University, USA, a Master’s degree in Applied Radiation Science and Technology from North-West University, South Africa, a Master’s degree in Management specializing in Project Management from Colorado Technical University in the USA, and a Bachelors’ degree in Physics and Chemistry from the North West University in South Africa.

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PROFessor LINDA du plessis


Professor Linda du Plessis is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Planning and Campus Business affairs of the North-West University (NWU).  She is also the Vice-principal.  After starting her career in Information Technology as a programmer, she left industry to teach in the higher education sector. She obtained her Master’s degree in Information Technology in 1994 and in 2002 she completed her PhD at the then PU for CHE and a second Doctorate at the University of Bath (UK) in 2020.  She has served as a speaker at various national and international conferences;  postgraduate students are guided and served on the editorial board of academic journals; and are also a member of the South African Institute for Institutional Research. In 2009, she joined the North-West University. She is passionate about education, believes firmly in lifelong learning and was recently honoured by Emerald publishers for her contribution to leadership.

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Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele is the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the North-West University since July 2021. He is a medical scientist with a PhD in Medical Virology. He is an elected member of Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and National Research Foundation C1 rated researcher. His research publications cover epidemiology, vaccination control of infectious diseases and strengthening immunisation services and policies. Prior joining the NWU, he was the Vice President for Research at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) (Oct 2014 to Jun 2021). He was a full-time academic at MEDUNSA (later University of Limpopo Medunsa Campus) in various capacities: Professor and Academic Chair of the Department of Virology and National Health Laboratory Service (2005 to Sep 2014) and Co-Director of the SAMRC/Diarrhoeal Pathogens Research Unit, which is a WHO Rotavirus Regional Reference Laboratory for Africa (2010 to March 2018). He trained, supervised and mentored several Post-Doctoral, Doctoral and Master students as contribution towards developing the next generation of scientists. He currently serves as the Vice-Chairperson of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) Board ( (since June 2020), member of WHO Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) Polio Working Group (2016-present), South African NITAG (National Advisory Group on Immunisation – NAGI) and South African National Task Force (NTF) for Laboratory Containment of Poliovirus.


He is the former member of Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 vaccines and the Committee for Medical Science of Medical and Dental Professions Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa. He previously served on various governance structures: Vice-Chair of The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership Association Board (EDCTP (May 2019 to May 2022); Vice-Chair of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R (May 2015 to Nov 2020); Founding Board Member of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI Oslo, Norway (Nov 2016 to Mar 2018); Board of Directors of the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation NPC ( (Apr 2018 to May 2022); Founding Board member of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) (Oct 2017 to Sep 2021); Board member of the South African Veterinary Council - category of non-veterinary representative (Aug 2004 to Jun 2010); member of Oversight Committee of the Network for Education and Support in Immunisation (NESI at University of Antwerp, Belgium (2014 to Oct 2019); and Non-Executive Director, Clinical Research Centres SA (Pty) Ltd (now Synexus Clinical Research SA), (Nov 2002 - Mar 2005).

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The North-West University Council appointed Prof Sonia Swanepoel as the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Community Engagement and Mahikeng Campus Operations during its meeting on 18 November 2021. She will serve a three-year term.

As an industrial psychologist, Prof Swanepoel has extensive knowledge and experience in various areas of teaching and learning, research and innovation, community engagement and management.


Before her appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, she was Executive Dean of the NWU’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences for four years.  Prof Swanepoel has also previously served as the Executive Dean of the former Faculty of Commerce and Administration in Mahikeng.

She conducted consulting for various companies both nationally and internationally and held various positions at the Tshwane University of Technology, including that of dean and head of department.  She also was a lecturer, senior lecturer and principal lecturer at Technikon Pretoria from 1982 until 2003.

Prof Swanepoel holds BCom and BCom Hons degrees in Personnel Management MCom and DCom degrees in Human Resources Management from the University of Pretoria as well as a Higher Education Diploma from UNISA. In addition she completed the Assessor Training Program of City and Guilds Training and Consultancy in London.          


She is part of various professional organisations, including the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the Psychology Association of South Africa for Industrial Psychology.

She was the chairperson of the higher-education committee of the South African Board of People Practices (SABPP) from 2011 to 2015. In addition, Prof Swanepoel was a SABPP board member until 2015 and is a chartered human resources professional of this organisation.

Prof Swanepoel has presented many articles at international conferences and published various articles and reports in accredited journals, as well as in other journals. She reviews articles for international journals and conferences.

Through her guidance and mentoring, nine students have obtained their PhD degrees and 16 their master’s degrees. She examines PhD’s and Masters degrees for various universities. She reviews programmes for the Council of Higher Education (CHE) both nationally and internationally.

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Professor Robert John Balfour read English and History for a BA, a BA Hons in English (1993), and an HDE in 1994 at Rhodes University. He read for a Masters degree in English and Education at the University of Natal which was completed with distinction in 1995. Balfour was made the recipient of a Commonwealth Trust Scholarship in 1997 and completed his doctoral degree in English language (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University in 2000). Working initially English Studies (creative writing and applied linguistics) at the University of Natal, he was in 2004 appointed as Acting Head of School at a critical phase in the post-incorporation of Edgewood Teacher Training College with the University Faculty of Education.


Appointed in 2005, as Head of the new School of Languages Education (at the University of KwaZulu-Natal), Balfour went on to transform the School, during two terms as Head of School, before being appointed as Registrar to St Augustine College of South Africa from 2008-2010. He has held three fellowships at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies at the University of London (2003-5), Clare Hall at Cambridge University (2003), and the Institute of Education at the University of London (2014). He has edited three collections of academic essays in three international language journals, published in five scholarly books, edited five books on education, language, and literature. The book on literary-cultural studies Culture Capital and Representation (with Palgrave, 2010) was received with critical acclaim. In 2015 the book, Education in a new South Africa: crisis and change was published by CUP.


Focusing on language learning and literacy, rural education, and post-colonial literature he has also featured widely in the popular press for perspectives on multilingualism and education. In 2011 he was appointed as Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education Sciences on the Potchefstroom Campus of NWU before being appointed as DVC (Teaching and Learning) in mid-2017. A co-edited book on Self-directed Learning in the era of the Covid-19 Pandemic: research on the affordances of online virtual excursions was published by Aosis Publishers in 2022.

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The Entertainment

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The University Choir was founded in 1955, and since 2012 the choir has been under the inspired direction of Kobus Venter.


The overarching aim of the choir is threefold, namely to serve the broad cause of good choral music, to give students the opportunity to hone their talents and develop as balanced people, and to inspire the sense of God’s proximity.

People have an innate need for music – therefore the PUK-Choir regularly performs at different types of events: formal concerts, informal performances, weddings, funerals, festivals, competitions, ceremonial events, church services, etcetera.


The choir annually undertakes a concert tour in the RSA during the month of July or November, and concert tours abroad every three years.


The main aims of the tours are the forging of cultural ties, the introduction of South African as well as traditional music in foreign countries, and the broadening of our students’ horizons in relation to other cultures and art.


Various sound as well as television recordings have been made by the choir, and these are often broadcast. Over the years numerous recordings have been made for the SABC, as well as regular recordings for CD’s.  Nine CDs have already been released. Libera Mé has won the SAMA-prize for best SA Choir Recording, and Kyrie won the Geraas-award for best Choral Album. In 2014 the choir won two gold medals at the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia and two more in 2018 in Tshwane. The choir was awarded the sought after Publikumspreis at the 54th International Competition of Choral Singing in Spittal an der Drau in 2017. In 2019 they were the winners of the Prague Advent and Christmas Choral Festival with Eben’s Prize.


The PUK-Choir is a choir that strives to make good music – to sing well goes without saying, but the core is to give heart, content, to the music. In this way music binds us together, moves us, and is our humanity and music served.


Viva Musica!

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“Good rewards are the results of the hard work you put in in everything  you do, ‘good luck’ is for those who do not work hard but always rely on luck to get through”

Prince Gontse Motaung was born and bred in Pretoria, recently based in Gauteng Province Waterfall City . A hard working individual and Leadership orientated. Prince is a graduate of the North-West University, where he received his Bachelor of Social Science in Political Science and International Relations in 2016 and also received his Honours of Social science in International Relations/Political Studies with distinction in the year 2017 at the same institution. He currently holds a Master of Social Science in International Relations from the same Institution. He is currently doing his PhD in Security Studies and Management at NWU Potchefstroom Campus. He is a former Lecturer in the School of Government Studies at the Mafikeng Campus. Prince Equally served as the NWU SRC Institutional President in 2016 after serving in different students bodies.


His Dancing career started with the North-West University Mafikeng formerly known as Dance-Club now DanceSport in 2014.Where he competed as a beginner, winning 1st position in most of his sections, and later competed in both novice star open section championships, winning 1st position in 2019.His biggest  highlights include participating in the Arnold Classic Africa Competition from 2014 to 2018, winner at the Annual Rumba in the Jungle International dance festival, winning 2nd  position  and 3rd position team overall at the annual USSA 2019 tournament as a dancer and assistant Coach. Prince has equally performed in many events with the NWU and outside which includes the SATMA Awards from the year 2014.He is currently the Head Coach and equally a competitive member of the North-West University Dance-Sport which has recently scooped the best overall team of the year award at their recent awards and equally awarded the best Coach of the year for the year 2020. Tonight Prince Motaung is accompanied by his current Dance Partner Ms Thandiwe Mqhedlani who is a Bachelor of Education FET phase in the North-West University.

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