Wits University announced that top nuclear physicist, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, is the 15th Vice-Chancellor and Principal on Thursday.
Professor Vilakazi will take the reins from out-going VC Professor, Adam Habib, from January 1, 2021.
Professor Habib leaves Wits at the end of the year to lead the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
“It is an honour for me to have been appointed to this prestigious position,” said Professor Vilakazi.
“I am committed to working with my esteemed colleagues, fellow academics and smart, savvy students to create new knowledge, and to develop the high-level skills required to move South Africa, and our economy forward. We also need to continue to develop the originators, innovators and critical thinkers who can help us solve the problems of the 21st Century,” he said.
According to the institution, in a statement, Professor Vilakazi is globally recognised for his knowledge of physics and nuclear research.
“He was instrumental in establishing South Africa’s first experimental high-energy physics research group at CERN focusing on the development of the High-level Trigger for the CERN-ALICE experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
He has also served as a visiting scientist at the Atomic Energy Commission and Alternative Energy in Saclay, France,” reads the statement.
Isaac Shongwe, Chairperson of the Wits Council, praised the incoming VC for his world-class academic background.
“Professor Zeblon Vilakazi is the epitome of a world-class researcher who is globally recognised for his scientific work, and for his contribution towards developing higher education in Africa. He is a truly talented individual who is an inspiring exemplar for all Africans.
“We are confident that Professor Vilakazi will ably lead Wits to its centenary in 2022 and beyond, steward a new vision for the academy, and reinvigorate the academic project in a higher education context that is rapidly changing,” said Shongwe.