Renewal of Chair & Launch of Museum and Research Centre

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Attending the launch: L-R Prof Peter Tshisikhawe (Botany Department), Prof Stefan Foord (Chair Successor), Prof Natasha Potgieter (Dean: Maths & Natural Sciences), Prof Peter Taylor (Chair), Prof Dave Richardson (Co-Chair, Centre for Invasion Biology), and Prof Jan Crafford (Acting Vice Chancellor and Principal)

The SARChI Biodiversity Chair at University of Venda completed its first five-year cycle in August 2018. After a National Research Foundation (NRF) panel review based on a detailed self-assessment report from the Chair and external peer reviews, the NRF recently announced the successful renewal of the Chair for another five years (July 2018 to July 2023). This exciting news coincided with the hand-over of completed office spaces for the long-awaited Chair Museum and Research Centre. On Thursday, 05 July 2018 the University of Venda hosted the launch of the Chair Museum and Research Centre. The brief Launch took place at the University Auditorium as part of the programme of 45th Symposium on the Management of Biological Invasions attended by 160 delegates and co-organised by Univen and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).The Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Univen, Prof Jan Crafford announced the renewal of the SARChi Chair by the NRF and handed over the new Centre which is located on the second floor of the Life Sciences Building. It houses natural history collections, exhibitions and library and IT/GIS resources as well as offices for the Chair and his team of interns, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students. Many of the collections, books and exhibits were donated by present and former Univen staff members (notably Colin Schoeman, Ian Gaigher, the late Rod Baxter and Peter Taylor) and members of the public. The most famous display in the Museum is a bust and death mask of the late Professor Raymond Dart, discoverer of the first Australopithecus skull (the “Taung child”) in 1925 and donated by a local macadamia farmer who was a personal friend of the Dart family.