Yunus Ballim is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He is also Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Sol Plaatje University (SPU) based in Kimberley, South Africa. SPU opened in 2014, and is the first of two new universities to be established in post-apartheid South Africa, and is also the first university to be established in the Northern Cape Province.
His research interests include cement-based materials, and much of his work revolves around Wit’s strategic teaching and learning plan, which he developed in 2009 in consultation with his colleagues.
Yunus Ballim was born in the 1950s to a mother classified as colored and father classified as Indian, and grew up on the streets of Kliptown, Soweto. He was the only one of four siblings to be educated past Grade 10, and knew he wanted to be an engineer from an early age. He worked as a button dyer at Rand Buttons, Fordburg while studying science from textbooks and a twice-weekly help from a Wits tutor. He passed the national examinations in science and was subsequently accepted into Wits and used earnings he had saved since age 11 from working in his grandmother’s grocery shop to pay for his first two years at university. He won a bursary that enabled him to continue at Wits for his third and fourth years. He was politically active and was arrested in 1981 for burning the South African flag on campus.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and worked as a site engineer on bridges and projects including the Daspoort Cutting near Hartbeespoort. He returned to Wits for a Master of Engineering and then completed a PhD in cement-based materials: a subject he continues to research.
He became a Lecturer in Construction Materials (1992), then Associate Professor in Construction Materials (1999), and later Head of the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering. He was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2006.
Yunus Ballim was a workshop expert at the 6th International LafargeHolcim Forum for Sustainable Construction in Cairo, April 4-6, 2019.