Wits University shines as a beacon of hope for South Africa, thanks to the dedication of you, our global Wits community. Despite global and local challenges, our accomplishments inspire optimism. We disbursed R1.4 billion in financial aid, scholarships and bursaries, thereby impacting on thousands of students, and unveiled groundbreaking infrastructure projects like the Wits Brian and Dorothy Zylstra Sports Complex. Research flourished while relevant initiatives like the Wits Innovation Centre emerged.

Adapting to new educational landscapes, including the use of AI, we embraced technology, whilst ensuring academic integrity and critical thinking. Our programmes, like the Afretec Digital Transformation Programme thrived. Sustainability and governance remain focal points, with clean financial audits and a strong leadership team ensuring our grounding.

As we bid farewell to 2023, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to you. We wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday season and thank you for always holding Wits close to your heart. A special word of thanks goes to those who donate so generously to Wits – your support goes a long way!

Watch Prof. Zeblon Vilakazi, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal reflects on the 2023 academic year.

Legacy Celebration and Sports Milestones

This year Wits celebrated many centenary sports milestones which began with the groundbreaking of the Wits Brian and Dorothy Zylstra Sports Complex. Spearheaded by a R200 million legacy investment from the Zylstra family and the Skye Foundation, this state-of-the-art facility aims to blend research, training, and clinical practice. Comprising of the Zylstra Sport and Health Building, the Zylstra Aquatics and Rowing Centre, and a 44-bed elite athlete residence, the Complex will serve as a lasting tribute to the University's legacy.

The main grandstand of the Wits Football Stadium was renamed in honour of Professor Ronnie Schloss, a luminary in South African football history. His commitment to sport, football and students, was acknowledged by Raymond Hack and other football greats at Wits.
Through the generosity of a proud Witsie family, 2023 also saw the establishment of an exciting R10 million endowment, encompassing the spirit of academic and sporting collaboration at Wits.  The endowment supports deserving “missing middle” students who are stars in their respective sporting codes at a Wits Sport, Provincial and National level, and who also perform well in their science-related studies at the University. Four rising sports stars were supported in 2023 through this amazing initiative with many more to benefit as the University boldly moves into the next 100 years.
Wits University's campuses also came to life during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Final screening at the Wits Rugby Stadium. The exhilarating victory of the Springboks brought together students, staff, and families, fostering a sense of national pride and unity. Jerome September, the Dean of Student Affairs, expressed how Wits, like the victorious Springboks, embodies a commitment to excellence. The screening provided a memorable break for students before the final exams, creating an electrifying atmosphere filled with cheers, laughter, and collective celebration.
Celebrating Wits' rich sporting legacy, the Wits Sport 100, 1922-2022 book, authored by Jonty Winch was launched at the Wits Brian and Dorothy Zylstra Sports Complex groundbreaking ceremony. This captivating publication encapsulates a century of remarkable achievements in Wits Sport and features legendary Wits athletes and trailblazers. Wits has produced athletes who became the world's best over 100 meters, the marathon and the ultra-marathon. Men and women emerging from the university have not only climbed Everest, but set world records for extreme deep cave and sea diving. If you are interested in a copy of the book please e-mail purvi.purohit@wits.ac.za

Trailblazing Alumni, Climate Advocacy, and Interdisciplinary Initiatives

Wits University celebrates the inclusion of two alumni, Pelonomi Moiloa and Shakir Mohamed, who featured in TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People in Artificial Intelligence. Moiloa, the CEO of Lelapa AI, is recognised as an innovator for her work in language technology, focusing on under-represented South African languages. Mohamed, the Research Director at Google DeepMind, is acknowledged as a thinker who pioneered generative AI models. Both alumni, representing diverse expertise, grapple with ethical questions and social challenges posed by AI.

In another feat, Wits takes the lead in climate action as Prof. Nithaya Chetty chairs the IUPAP Working Group on Physics for Climate Action. The group focuses on evidence-based approaches, global collaboration, and integrating green economy principles into education. A strong Wits delegation was present at COP28 where they participated in multiple events, including two major research projects – the Top 10 Climate Insights and the Global Tipping Points Report – read more on the Climate, Sustainability and Inequality site. 
Wits welcomed the inaugural cohort of the WESAF Doctoral Programme, fostering interdisciplinary research for African sustainability. The programme, a collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, aims to address continent-wide challenges through research in civil engineering, food science, and fine arts.

We also celebrate those global medical pioneers that came before us through A Century of Achievement: South African Contributions to Global Medicine 1890-1990 co-authored by Rochelle Keene and Cedric G Bremner. The book describes the contributions made by 138 South African doctors and medical scientists from 1890 to 1990. Five Nobel Prize winners feature amongst those honoured in the book.  If you are interested in a copy of the book please e-mail Justine.Dangor@wits.ac.za

Celebrating Wits University's Remarkable Year

The Zola Wits Dental Clinic inauguration is the culmination of persistent efforts that endured challenges, including the pandemic and structural renovations. Its impact transcends mere healthcare provision; it symbolises a paradigm shift towards community-based learning, emphasising the importance of holistic education and service to society. Thank you to the Stanley, Marion, Paul and Edward Bergman Family Foundation for their kindness in making this clinic a reality.
In a historic tribute to Professor Margo Steele an exceptional leader whose legacy in the School of Accountancy led to a transformative donation of $10 million from an anonymous donor. This contribution will be used for teaching, research, students, and infrastructure development.
Celebrating Prof Margo Steele's 90th Birthday
Furthermore, the partnership between Wits University and Sibanye-Stillwater reached new heights with the unveiling of the Wits Sibanye-Stillwater Innovation Bridge and the announcement of an additional commitment of R51 million from Sibanye-Stillwater to the Wits Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.
The arts were also celebrated at Wits through the inaugural Vice-Chancellor's Music Concert, a captivating showcase of talent and creativity featuring renowned artists and exceptional students in the Wits Chris Seabrooke Music Hall
African Rainbow Minerals extended its support to Wits University through a generous donation of R20 million, fostering research in critical areas like water, energy, and digitalisation. This collaboration reflects a shared vision for addressing societal challenges through knowledge, innovation, and sustainable development.
As Wits University continues to evolve and make significant strides, these milestones affirm its unwavering dedication to excellence, innovation, and community engagement, marking a truly remarkable year in its distinguished history.

Love thy Neighbour... it could be a Witsie

The chances of your neighbour or your work colleague being a Witsie are pretty high. Our research team dug deep into social media platform LinkedIn and found that although most of our alumni on LinkedIn (134 718) appear to still be in South Africa, more than 30 000 are outside South Africa, and 22 000 of these are in three geographies – UK, USA and Australia, concentrated in several key cities: London, Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, New York, LA, etc. LinkedIn as a social media platform may not be a true reflection as it is not for everyone, but it has given us a glimpse into Witsies creating new worlds for themselves and making an impactful difference across the globe. Future editions will include more interesting stories around our global alumni footprint.

USA – Highlights of the year

2023 was a great year of American Witsies getting together and celebrating their common Wits spirit and their strong South African bond.
Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University, and the Wits Advancement Team visited Texas in September 2023, connecting with Witsies in Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Prof Vilakazi also made use of the opportunity to meet with key strategic Wits Partners and Friends – the Perot Museum, the University of Texas System, NASA and Brown University. See photos of the Texas Reunions here.
The Wits Fund Inc hosted a rooftop Alumni party in New York City on 2 October 2023, where Stanley Bergman, the Chair of the Fund was joined by Jane Levy, the President of the Fund, other board members and eighty Witsies for a great night of South African food, treats and music provided by Rabbitt – the South African rock band formed in 1972 and well known to Witsies of that era and to the world for their hit song “Charlie”.
During his speech, Mr Bergman assured everyone attending that every dollar that is donated to Wits goes a long way in supporting the work that the university does:

“You can be sure that if you give a dollar to Wits, it multiplies to a lot of Rands.  And that money will be well managed.  The team at the Wits Fund, and the leadership of the University will ensure that the money is well spent.  Wits is one of the most transparent institutions in South Africa.  And yes, there are problems in the country but there are challenges around the world.  If we are here in the United States, we have a responsibility to give back to South Africa.  Please remember where you come from, please remember the faces of the people that you grew up with, the people that make you feel at home, and the country where you were born.”
As part of regular 2023 get-togethers, Witsies in Austin and San Antonio (Texas), and in Seattle (Washington State), also got together throughout the year for some great food, wonderful conversations and a chance to make new friends.

Australia – Highlights of the year

As 2023 concludes, Australian Witsies fondly recall a bustling year filled with remarkable nationwide highlights. Our virtual tour, led by Wits Director of Alumni Relations, Peter Maher, made a spirited start. Throughout the year, our incredible alumni community hosted memorable events, including boardroom breakfasts with luminaries like Stephen Koseff and Ari Mervis, and webinars featuring Stanley Bergman and Emeritus Professor Margo Steele in honour of her 90th birthday celebration.

Hybrid events added zest, featuring alumni like Professor Mervyn King SC and Captain
Dr Paul Luckin AM. The year closed with a delightful supper in Melbourne and brunch in Sydney with Professors Steve Tollman and Kathy Kahn, founders of the MRC/Wits-Rural Public Health and Transitions Unit.

Sponsoring the screening of "George Bizos: Icon – A Champion of Justice" at the Sydney Greek Film Festival was a success, and a final webinar on the 14th of December will delve "Behind the Scenes" with the filmmaker Jane Thandi Lipman, Alexi Bizos, and funder George Georgiou. Exciting events await in 2024, supported by our new Australian Wits State Advisory Committees, promising another fantastic year.

Medical Witsies in Australia meeting with Professors Stephen Tollman and Kathleen Khan to learn more about the Wits Rural and Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit
Witsie cocktails with Captain, Dr Paul Luckin AM in Brisbane
Boardroom lunch with Ari Mervis in Melbourne
Stephen Koseff launched the Wits Australia Melbourne Chapter
Melbourne Witsies connecting
Witsies in Australia supporting Wits with big smiles and enthusiasm
A packed room with Judge Mervyn King sharing his insights with other Witsies in Sydney

UK – Highlights of the year

As the snow starts falling in parts of the United Kingdom our hearts are filled with Witsie and South African warmth as we look back and reflect on a great year with lots of visits and collaborations.

Professor Taole Mokoena, Dr Makobetsa Khati, Professor Wim de Villiers, Professor Lynn Morris
Professor Lynn Morris, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation visited the Oxford laboratory in which she completed her PhD supervised by Prof Siamon Gordon during her 40th reunion of her class at Oxford University in September 2023. Whilst in London Professor Morris also met with her counterpart at University College London (UCL), Professor Geraint Rees, to plan the extension of the already active partnership between the two universities; and engaged with Dr Fiona Perrot-Humphrey at Rothchild and Co. and Professor Colin Bundy, a Trustee of the Wits Foundation UK and former Wits Vice-Chancellor.

Peter Bezuidenhoudt, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Lynda Murray and Shakir Mohamed

To end the year on a high note, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, visited Wits Electrical Engineering Alumnus Shakir Mahomed, who is the Research Director at Google Deepmind and also selected as one of Times Magazine's Top 100 Leaders in AI.
Professor Vilakazi also visited the University of Edinburgh, to strengthen the many valued partnerships between the two universities, and to attend the prestigious occasion of Ms Reeta Roy, CEO and President of Mastercard being conferred with an Honorary Doctoral Degree.

The last lunch engagement for the Vice-Chancellor in London this year was to meet with some great Witsies and Friends of Wits. The goodwill, support and collaboration with Wits from the UK warmed all hearts on one of the coldest days this December thus far.

Richard Bradley, Anton Ossip, Allen Zimbler, Fiona Perrott-Humphrey, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Philip Lindop and Mark Byrne


A Snapshot of 2023 Highlights Across the Globe

Dinner with Witsie CEOs
Meeting with top Law Firms in South Africa – ENS Africa and Webber Wentzel – strengthening collaborations and obtaining valuable insights

Meeting with Jonny Copelyn at his offices in Sea Point
Dr Mark Slack visiting Wits Campus and the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre
Witsies enjoying the New York City Alumni Party
Thabiso Tenyane visiting Wits Campus
The Mining Qualifications Authority Team meeting with Prof Thokozani Majozi to strengthen partnerships and collaborations
Barry Swartzberg and the Discovery Vitality Team on Campus
Forging cross-continental partnerships with the University of Texas System

An inspiring dinner with South African Banking CEOs
Visiting Robbie Menter in Dallas
Strengthening ties with the Perot Museum in Dallas
Meeting inspiring Witsies in Houston, thank you Nehal and Radina Badal and Robert Daugherty
Welcomed with open arms at the NASA Space Centre in Houston
Reconnecting with Randy Best in Dallas
The Annual Wits Founders' Tea
Paulo Cavalieri and Ivan Pentz visiting Wits and meeting Professors Zeblon Vilakazi and Ian Jandrell
An inspirational dinner with Bursary and Scholarship Donors
Moss Mashishi visits Professor Zeblon Vilakazi
David Brink proudly receiving his Wits Sport 100 Book
Wits Reunion in Umhlanga, KwaZulu Natal Province
A Wits delegation visiting the Renergen Virginia Gas Project, headed by Stefano Marani
Discovery pioneers and leaders, Adrian Gore, Barry Swartzberg and Dr Maurice Goodman, enjoying a visit by Professors Zeblon Vilakazi and Jon Patricios and Jerome September
Wits Reunion in Polokwane, Limpopo Province
Prof Jim Gates' family enjoying their tour of the palaeosciences vault
Former 80's Men's Residence students Clive Favis, Mark Stiller and Chris Naidoo rediscovering their campus and paying homage to Phineas their old residence mascot
Richard Came and Charles Rowlinson visiting the Wits Great Hall and the School of Electrical and Information Engineering's Free-Space Optical Communications Laboratory
The Zylstra brothers meeting some of the students supported by the Wits Australia Bursary Programme
Launch of the SAPPI Chair in Climate Change and Plantation Sustainability
Doug and Carolyn Smollan delighted at receiving their Wits Sport 100 book
Wits Australia Representative, Lawrence Jackson, visiting the Wits Zola Dental Clinic in Soweto
Peter and Sarah Wharton-Hood visiting their alma mater and blown away by the projects and programmes at Wits
Jacob Modise enjoyed reminiscing over his student days as he stood on the Great Hall steps and looked out over the Library Lawns
Arthur and Charles Goldstuck rediscovering the wonders of Wits and awestruck by the Robotics, Autonomous Intelligence and Learning Lab
Launch of the Standard Bank Chair in Africa Trust Infrastructures
Marion Bergman visiting to open the Wits Zola Dental Clinic in Soweto
Dr Reuel Khoza and Nkateko Khoza making it a family affair on their visit to Wits Campus
Pofessor Zeblon Vilakazi meeting up with Dixit Joshi, Steve Collis and Mpumi Zikalala at the World Economic Forum
Fani Titi and Lesley-Ann Gatter all smiles at Investec as partnerships are strengthened
Always a pleasure to meet with our Wits UK Trustees Bill Frankel and Colin Bundy. Thank you for your service and dedication to Wits!
Gary Setzer, Shaul Koren and Wayne Gaddin visiting the School of Oral Health Sciences' Phantom Simulator Heads Laboratory
Launch of the Absa Chair in Future Energy at the Business School
Wits Cape Town Reunion, Western Cape Province
School of Construction Economic and Management Reunion

Visit us at

South Africa https://www.wits.ac.za/givingtowits/
United Kingdom https://wits-uk.org/
United States of America https://witsfund.org/
Australia https://wits-au.org/

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