By Auxilia Katongomara/Bongani Ndlovu
The National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has described its late founding Vice Chancellor Professor Phineas Mogorosi Makhurane as the springboard from which most careers kick-started.
Prof Makhurane who was the first Zimbabwean to hold a PHD in Solid State Physics died last Saturday at Mater Dei Hospital aged 79 after battling diabetes and hypertension for a long time.
The institution said the revered academic ably embraced the concept of change management in higher education by launching the first science and technology based university in the country, building on the needs and achievements of polytechnic education.
In a statement on behalf of the Nust alumni, the institution’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Gatsha Mazithulela said Prof Makhurane was instrumental in kick starting numerous careers.
“For the Nust Alumni Prof Phineas Makhurane as the founding Vice-Chancellor of the institution holds a very special space in our lives. He represents the founder of the springboard from which our careers took off.
“In the first intake of Nust (1991) the university was still small enough for a Vice-Chancellor to know a great number of students almost in the manner of a headmaster of a school knowing all his students.
“I believe that the first intake was forever cast into a very special bond with the Vice-Chancellor to an extent that I know a number who eventually became friends with this academic giant as his influence continued to shape their careers even after they left Nust,” said Dr Mazithulela.
He said it is unusual that an alumnus can claim such a direct experience to a Vice-Chancellor especially from an undergraduate point of view.
“This example alone is one of many that can be related in terms of how Prof Makhurane paid attention to detail in the success of the university up to taking a personal interest in the career fortunes of former students.
“Today I stand as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university that Prof Makhurane founded and this is not a coincidence but an example of his vision being translated into reality by us the alumni,” he said.
Dr Mazithulela said the Nust Deanery said it is saddened by the untimely passing on of Prof Makhurane who pioneered and spearheaded the teaching and researching in STEM in the country.
He said the vision and rationale was to devolve academic executive decision making to Deans of Faculties, who are domiciled at the academic coal face where; teaching, learning, research and community engagement occurs.
“Of late, the Faculty of Commerce had seen it fit to engage the late Prof Makhurane and recall him from retirement to restructure the mentorship programme for PhD students, an indication of his reverences as an academician,” he said.
Prof Makhurane is also credited with proposing and perfecting the industrial attachment model of university education which has produced impeccable results in terms of hands-on managers for industry and commerce.
Meanwhile, the family of the late Prof Makhurane said a funeral service would be held at the Bulawayo Amphitheatre on Thursday from 9AM ending midday. Family spokesperson, Mr Joshua S Mpofu, said the memorial service was being held ahead of Prof Makhurane’s burial on Sunday.
“We are inviting everyone to come in their numbers to celebrate the life of Prof Makhurane through a memorial on Thursday. This is being done because on Friday we shall travel to the rural home in Gungwe in Gwanda South for his burial on Sunday,” said Mpofu. He said during the service, Prof Makhurane’s family has requested people not to wear political party regalia.
Bulawayo Minister of Provincial Affairs Cde Judith Ncube and members of the provincial Joint Operations Command (JOC) yesterday visited the family of the late Prof Makhurane to pay their last respects.
Cde Ncube described the late Prof Makhurane as a beacon of knowledge whose immense contribution is not confined to Zimbabwe but across the borders as well.
“We are here to be with the family during this trying time as we mourn uBaba uMakhurane. We are here representing Bulawayo province to pay our respects to the family. It’s painful to lose a loved one, especially losing a father figure but it’s God’s will and time,” said Cde Ncube.
“If you look at the late Prof Makhurane he was a fatherly figure in the Makhurane family, a fatherly figure in Bulawayo, a fatherly figure in Matabeleland South and Zimbabwe at large. If we are to call people who benefitted from Prof Makhurane they would fill up this homestead because of his works dating back to the liberation struggle and after independence,” said Cde Ncube.
“He dedicated himself to working for the country. He retired working for Zimbabwe, even after retirement from Nust he was assisting the institution and seconded to some boards because of his wisdom and knowledge.
“He respected the duties assigned to him, as Bulawayo and Zimbabwe we want to appreciate the immense contribution by Prof Makhurane”. Cde Ncube said the legacy left by Prof Ncube at Nust has seen it grow into a reputable academic institution over the years.
The Bulawayo City Council mourned Prof Makhurane commending him for the visionary leadership that resulted in the construction of the country’s second university in the early 90s.
“The City of Bulawayo joins the Makhurane family, Bulawayo community and the nation of Zimbabwe in mourning and celebrating the life of the illustrious educator.
“Bulawayo recognises the role he played as the founding Vice Chancellor of Nust and his contribution in the building of the present day Nust,” said the local authority in a statement. The Chronicle