27 October 2023 | Story Samkelo Fetile | Photo SUPPLIED
Prof Brownhilder Neneh
Prof Brownhilder Neneh, newly appointed Vice-Dean for Research Engagement and Internationalisation.

The University of the Free State (UFS) proudly announces a momentous stride towards enhancing its research excellence and international partnerships with the appointment of Prof Brownhilder Neneh as the Vice-Dean for Research Engagement and Internationalisation. This esteemed scholar, renowned for her outstanding contributions to academia, is poised to assume a pivotal role in shaping the future of research at our institution.

An illustrious academic odyssey

Prof Neneh is recognised as one of the top 2% most-cited researchers globally, standing at an impressive 9th place in the Stanford-Elsevier Ranking, a highly esteemed metric of a researcher's scientific influence. Her academic journey has been marked by a series of achievements and accolades.  A distinguished academic currently serving as the Academic Chair within the Business Management Department at the UFS, Prof Neneh’s commitment to educational excellence and innovation has been duly recognised. She was a visiting scholar at the University of North Carolina in 2022, and she was part of Erasmus mobility program at the Fulda University of Applied Sciences in Germany, demonstrating her commitment to global academic engagement. Her dedication to teaching and learning excellence was acknowledged when she received the Teaching and Learning Award in 2018, followed by the recognition as the Best Senior Researcher in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences in 2019. In the same year, Prof Nene was awarded the prestigious Emerald Literati Award for a highly commended paper published in the African Journal of Economics and Management Studies. In 2023, she was once again named the best senior researcher in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

Furthermore, Prof Nene co-edited a textbook titled "Foundations of Business Management in South Africa, 1st Edition" by Cengage. Her primary research centres on nurturing entrepreneurial competencies and behaviours, particularly among students and women entrepreneurs. Her work employs cutting-edge scientific methodologies to comprehend the entrepreneurial phenomenon and assess the effectiveness of interventions, ensuring that her recommendations are grounded in evidence and bear practical implications for students, women entrepreneurs, and the broader business community.

Prioritising research engagement and internationalisation 

Prof Neneh enthusiastically embraces her new role and the opportunities it affords. She states, “I look forward to working collaboratively with my colleagues within the faculty, postgraduate students, and international partners to create a vibrant and impactful research environment.” Her resolute commitment to advancing research engagement and internationalisation is evident, and she is eager to contribute to the ongoing success of the faculty in these critical areas. “I am thrilled to be part of a dedicated team that is already doing a great job in terms of research excellence and global engagement”.

In response to her appointment as Vice-Dean, Prof Neneh expressed her profound sense of honour, saying, “I am fully committed to bringing about positive change and utilising my expertise to advance research engagement and internationalisation within the faculty.” Her appointment heralds a new era of academic excellence and global collaboration at the UFS, and we can anticipate significant contributions from her leadership in this pivotal role.

As the Vice-Dean for Research Engagement and Internationalisation, Prof Neneh's portfolio will serve as a cornerstone for realising the university's Vision 130. Her responsibilities will encompass various critical aspects aimed at promoting and facilitating research excellence and global engagement within the faculty. These include recognising and celebrating exceptional research accomplishments, faculty publications, and innovations, formulating and implementing the faculty's research strategy, fostering international partnerships, and ensuring the academic community remains engaged with global research and innovation trends. Additionally, Prof Nene will oversee the effective communication of research findings to both academic and non-academic audiences through publications, conferences, and knowledge transfer activities.

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