Greetings from the 2017 HELTASA executive team and a warm welcome to a new member Dr Luyanda Marhaya from University of Venda (Univen) who joined the HELTASA family as executive member in 2016 during ICED/HELTASA conference. In February 2017 we appointed a deputy-chairperson, Dr Langutani Masehela (Univen), to complement the chairperson’s role. Langutani has already proven to be quite an asset to the executive team with her wise perspectives and commentary. We also saw the need to enlist the assistance of a few members who volunteered to be co-opted onto the Special Projects team. These members will be introduced in our next newsletter, so watch this space.

We started 2017 off with a bang in the Mother City with our first executive meeting held at UCT where we met to plot and plan and take the vision of HELTASA forward. We made great strides in this gathering but most significantly was the new approach to meeting procedure that we employed. We engaged with a simple but profound question: what is your theory of change? This allowed individual members to reflect and participate in authentic ways that enabled each of us to feel empowered enough to use our voice and positionality to express our vision and commitment to the HELTASA and the teaching and learning project in higher education. In fact we wrote a piece in The Conversation on this very topic, using our experience of the executive meeting to raise the issue of traditional meeting procedures and how they can be re-vitalised for us to engage more humanely with members. We hope to carry this thread through to our engagements with you, our HELTASA member.

The executive team has been pretty busy in the last two months.

  • Langutani and Luyanda chaired and convened a Teaching and Learning Day at Univen on 16 March.
  • Our very own Vanessa Merckel (Exec member: Critical Dialogues Portfolio) was the key note speaker at the Univen Teaching and Learning Day. See attached for overview of event and Vanessa’s presentation.
  • Our finance person Dr Delysia Timm presented a poster at the Achieve The Dream 2017 conference from 19 to 24 February in San Francisco. This conference was attended by a South African delegation of Siyaphumelela institutions. DUT is a participant in the Siyaphumelela student success Kresge funded Project.
  • Our SIG convenor, Dr Masebala Tjabane has been liaising with the new SIG convenors to HELTASA and is overseeing plans for this year’s SIG events.
  • Our secretariat Dr Karin Woolf has been doing a sterling job of keeping us on track, minute by minute while Nomfundo Siqwede has been and still is the backbone and memory of all things operational and logistical.
  • Langutani (CHE Awards portfolio) and I attended the CHE/HELTASA National Teaching and Learning Awards last month to discuss the awards criteria among other important issues. Please see a related article by Kasturi Behari-Leak and Sioux McKenna on this topic.
  • Kasturi also attended a DHET CHE Steering committee meeting on a new joint project between HEA (UK) and DHET entitled National Accreditation of University Teachers. Details of this will follow as the project unfolds.
  • Last but definitely not least, the DUT conference team convened by Ms Nalini Chitanand is ready to launch the 2017 HELTASA Conference website. Please save the date for the 2017 conference that takes place in warm and balmy Durbs’ by the sea from 21-24 November. You can’t miss this so register, sign up and start preparing your presentations for a productive engagement on the theme: ‘Higher education well-being: Transcending boundaries, Reframing excellence’

So a lot has been happening and we do hope that you can find a place and space to add your voice to the conversations and discussions that are surfacing. Your participation via FB or on our website will mean that we can strengthen our discourses on teaching and learning in the sometimes challenging contexts we experience and so become the agents of change that higher education so desperately needs.

That’s all for now but let’s keep talking.

Onwards and upwards, always


HELTASA Chair (2017) on behalf of the Executive Team