College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Meet UKZN’s New Deputy Vice-Chancellor & College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Head

Professor Albert Modi has been appointed as UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal with effect from 1 August 2018.

The appointment, which is valid for a fixed term of five years, was recently announced by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, who congratulated Modi, saying, ‘I welcome Professor Modi to the University Executive Management and wish him every success during his term of office. Professor Modi has both the experience and the qualifications to continue the good work of the College. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College is the highest academic leadership position within the University’s College structure and is responsible for leading the academic, teaching and research strategy and realising the academic mandate of the University.’

Modi has been the Dean and Head of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences from 2011 to 2016. He was employed by the then University of Natal in 1996 and has been associated with UKZN since then. Before joining the University, he was provincial agronomist for PHI-Hibred International, a job that exposed him to the agronomy and rural development issues. He has also worked as a CEO of the Moses Kotane Institute for Science and Technology, which he established in 2008 while he was an adjunct Professor at UKZN. His agronomy research focuses on traditional/indigenous crops.

‘This appointment is a major milestone in my life and those who supported me purposely or unknowingly,’ said Modi. ‘Regarding my journey as an academic, researcher and leader, it confirms that it is not enough to judge us by our success in life. It is more fulfilling to consider the number of times we stumbled and failed, but managed to achieve our goals for the benefit of others in our lives. This appointment does not come as a surprise to me. I believe that the University started to trust that I can be a leader, when I was given an opportunity to be the Dean of the largest School in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, I was able to achieve the goals set by the University. My participation in the development of the UKZN Strategic Plan allowed me to be an Acting DVC who is able to set achievable short and long-term goals through collective leadership. I am thankful to the University Council for showing confidence in me. This will allow me to achieve the College strategic goals, which I set with my colleagues,’ he said.

Modi has spent the past 22 years working first as an agronomist for Pioneer PHI-Bred International and then as an academic agronomist focusing on Crop Science. He established a Seed Science and Technology curriculum and attracted postgraduate students to the former University of Natal (now University KwaZulu-Natal). His interest in rural development also led to the establishment of a Sustainable Community Agriculture curriculum. He is an NRF-rated (C2) scientist and a regular reviewer for national and international ISI journals and institutions of higher learning.

Key issues related to the strategic direction of the College and its Schools such as visibility; efficient service delivery and leadership; responsibility and accountability; high level research strategy; staff workloads and wellness, facilities and curriculum revision to suit South African and global requirements for innovation and economic development; as well as efficient financial management form part of Modi’s focus areas. ‘I will achieve these goals as a captain of a ship with a crew that is willing to support me. I am human. I will respect to gain respect. I will be rewarded more for the greater achievement of the team and less for personal achievements. I have full confidence in the academic and support staff. I know that we shall put the students at the centre of our business model to achieve what all the UKZN stakeholders expect of us,’ he said.

Words: Sinegugu Ndlovu