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Professor Khathutshelo Percy Mashige is the new Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences at UKZN.
‘I am proud and ecstatic,’ said Mashige. ‘I felt I was in with a chance of being appointed but was a bit anxious and apprehensive about it.’
He aims to encourage and support staff within the School to get involved in high impact national and international collaborative research. ‘My goal is for us to produce top class undergraduate students in our programmes to ensure we remain relevant and competitive,’ he said.
‘I also want our community service involvement to be all about sustainable systems creation to help grow our resources,’ said Mashige. ‘In addition, I aim to put measures in place to ensure the financial sustainability of the School, such as supporting increased quality research outputs, improved operational efficiency, encouraging social entrepreneurship, and linking continuing education with the development of an allegiance from our alumni,’ said Mashige.
He said new challenges kept him motivated. ‘I may not be able to help everyone but I feel I am a good listener and am very approachable.’
Born in Limpopo, he was involved in a motor accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury and quadriplegia. Mashige rose above this serious life disruption in a variety of life domains, including being awarded a Masters in Optometry degree followed by a PhD in Philosophy in Health Sciences from UKZN.
He completed the Ocular Diagnostics Certificate from the New England College of Optometry in Boston in the United States and the theoretical component of the Ocular Therapeutics course offered jointly by UKZN and the State University of New York (SUNY).
He was the Head of UKZN’s Optometry Department from 2007 to 2013, serving in a variety of leadership roles at the University including being a member of the Senate and the College of Health Science Transformation Committee.
Mashige, who boasts more than 20 years’ teaching experience in optometry, is involved with the regulation and advancement of optometry education being Chairperson of the Education Committee of the Professional Board for Optometry and Dispensing Opticians.
He is the Chief Executive Officer of the African Vision Research Institute (AVRI), which works to reduce the burden of blindness and visual impairment in Africa by conducting research that is relevant to disease control, human resource development and infrastructure development.
He is the Chairperson of the online institute and enterprise development service provider: the Global Institute for Entrepreneurship and Ethics, and a founding member and Chairperson of the Community Self Mastery Coaching Institute, which focuses on teaching and empowering the youth, women, men and families with core values, practical tools, techniques and strategies for sustainable integration of positive mind sets and behaviours into daily living.
Mashige is a recipient of the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Grant and is a Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership (DRILL) Fellow.
He is an Associate Editor for the BMC Ophthalmology journal and serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the South African Health Review journal.
A National Research Foundation-rated scientist, he has published more than 70 articles in peer-reviewed national and international journals.
Mashige, an avid sportsman prior to his accident, enjoys watching sport and spending time with friends and family. He is proud to have an extremely supportive family who are excited about his academic achievements.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini