On behalf of University Council, Management and on my own behalf, I wish to welcome you to the start of Semester 1, 2017/18. I thank each one of you heartily for the contributions you continue to make to develop Kyambogo University into a great institution. Thank you and be blessed.
In a special way, I welcome the first year students who have joined the University. I thank you for choosing Kyambogo University as the preferred institution where you will derive the requisite skills and knowledge to tide you over the rest of your life. I want to urge you to work hard, not to waste time and to be focused on your goals. The achievements you register during your undergraduate period will form the foundation for your progression through life. So take advantage of this and acquire as much knowledge and skill sets as possible. The future belongs to those who are prepared. Your decision to choose Kyambogo University is a great privilege bestowed upon us as managers of this institution and our commitment is not to let you down.
Congratulations to KyU debating team
Hearty congratulations to the debating team for winning the East African University debate championship. They beat a number of Universities including Makerere University, Nkumba, UCU, University of Dar es salaam, and University of Rwanda. They beat Makerere University in the finals. The team has made us proud and we applaud them for this excellent performance. I will find time to host them to a dinner as a way of motivating them and encouraging them to continue the good work.
New additions to Management
During the course of the last Academic Year, Management has been boosted by arrival of new faces. Allow me to welcome Mr. Manano, Director Human Resources, Mr. Charles Okello, the University Secretary, Madame Mildred Tibananuka, the Dean of Students, Prof. Aaron Wanyama, acting DVC (AA), Dr. Peter Okello Ag. Academic Registrar. I wish also to inform you that I assumed office of the Vice Chancellor with effect from 15thMay 2017. I want to invite you be partners with Management in the development of the University.
Graduate fellows and new appointments
Council approved the appointment of graduate fellows and some new staff at different levels in various departments. This development should address some of the staffing gaps we have had for a number of years. I welcome these new staff members to the University and will have an opportunity to address them separately. I wish to urge Heads of Departments and Deans to utilize these new additions maximally. The graduate fellows are some of the brightest the University has produced over the years so do not shy from assigning them teaching positions, after all many of them have been part timing in Kyambogo University. I am aware of the Politics of hours and the fights over load allocations that have been going on. However, with salary enhancement that has been going on, these wars should be minimized and we all focus on delivering the best to our students and stakeholders.
In addition Appointments Board has promoted all deserving applicants to higher positions. Management recently recommended another set of applicants and they will soon be considered. We are committed to improving our systems to deliver services effectively.
While the academic staff situation is improving, the need to fill positions in non teaching areas remains critical. Due to limitations of the wage bill, management will continue to recruit personnel in critical areas to avoid stagnation and lack of delivery of services. This has created the need to have temporary employees whose status is being re-examined by Top Management and Appointments Board. There is no doubt that we need more personnel to manage the unprecedented expansion in student numbers and areas of engagement that the University is involved in for example, affiliated institutions, international relations and others.
New buildings by HEST project
I am glad to report that four new structures namely the Central Lecture Block, the Technical Teacher Education Complex, Science Multipurpose Complex and the Virtual Library are nearly complete and will be handed over to the University during the month of September 2017. However the furniture and other fittings will not be available until about December due to delays in procurement. Management is considering the possibility of using the large open spaces for large classes after the handover. In the meantime, chairs are being collected from areas where they are not supposed to be in order to have them in lecture rooms. Management will review the deficit and will propose to Council to buy chairs depending on the identified need.
Increase in student numbers
This year will see a marked increase in student numbers as a result of large intake in first year. This will no doubt create some pressure on our facilities, particularly lecture space, infrastructure especially sanitary provisions, lighting across the University, security and others. Management is working hard to ensure that these services are provided to avoid unnecessary riots and disagreements. Estates will continue to work on sanitary provisions, lighting, water and electricity. I want to urge everyone to utilize these facilities cautiously. It has been observed that vandalism of sanitary provisions by students is on the rise and the need to change from sitting to squatting pans in toilets especially for ladies has been noted and will be worked on. From time to time, Management will walk around to appraise itself of the challenges facing the students and staff of the University.
Security remains essential for everyone on campus. With large numbers, the University is a target to terrorists and arsonists. So I urge all of you to be security conscious. While we have hired private firms to provide security, you also need to be cautious and avoid risky situations like walking late at night alone through areas that are not well lit.
I wish to pay tribute to the student leaders, the cabinet of the guild and the GRC for the hard work they do to keep the student welfare issues in focus. By working with Management, many would be conflict situations have been addressed. The current guild leadership will come to an end in March 2018 meaning there will be another round of campaigning to elect a successor government. The candidates will therefore be working hard using all available means to outcompete their opponents. This may include giving promises that are not tenable and are likely not to go well with the need to maintain harmony. I therefore urge the current leadership to handle this process peacefully and prepare to handover government to the incoming cabinet. I have had the privilege to preside over these functions in the past and look forward to doing the same early next year. Management is available to work with the students and staff of the University to ensure a harmonious peaceful environment at campus.
I want to assure all of you that you have the best team of managers this University has ever had. You will soon agree with me as we go through this year. You will find management willing to listen at every stage so take advantage of raising your issues any time to the relevant University Officer.
Management will continue to engage government to secure more funding to recruit more personnel, to relieve the domestic arrears burden, to facilitate management of NTCs, PTCs and ECDs among others. I am glad to report that discussions have already started.
Management will also continue to develop policies for example Resource Mobilization Policy, Public Private Partnership Policy, Outsourcing of Catering Service, Policy on off campus learning centers and others. These policies will streamline University operations in concerned areas. Last week, Council approved the Policy on short courses and thanks to the team that worked on this policy. I want to urge you to acquaint yourself with this policy and start developing short courses as the University takes the lead in skilling Uganda. Through these courses, the University will secure funding to improve our facilities in key areas of Engineering, Vocational Studies, Science and Education. The situation will definitely get better with time.
I now want to invite all of us to commit ourselves to excellence in all our endeavors of teaching, research and outreach. Research capacity and output remains low in the University and we shall devise strategies to enhance them. These strategies may include regular training sessions, sourcing for funds, sourcing for professors to provide academic leadership and supervision of graduate students, training in capacity to supervise, development of faculty based journals to provide publication outlets, subscription to Research Africa database among others.
I want to invite all of us to consider ourselves as members of one Kyambogo team with a common vision and commitment to build a prestigious institution that is preferred by all stakeholders. There are already signs in this direction. We must all shun divisive tendencies of cliquism, sectarianism, gender biases and desire to target and fight particular individuals in management which may include Heads of Departments, Deans and Top Management. Let us all have a common goal and we develop strategies and activities to help us achieve that goal. Society is looking at us and waiting for our response and future generations will blame us for failing to lay a foundation for their prosperity. As we embrace the Hakuna Muchezo philosophy, let us commit ourselves to hard work. Through the sea of life, we shall encounter many sharks of different sizes. We should never give up but manage these sharks and swim to the shore with God being our help.
May I therefore conclude by wishing you plenty of blessings and favors as we build Kyambogo University and ask you to fasten your belts as we take off. The journey will be long and tortuous but we shall reach as long as we work hard and keep the team spirit alive.
Knowledge and skills for Service and for God and my Country.
Professor Dr. Eli Katunguka Rwakishaya, Ph.D