Major changes as UoN moves to fill new positions

uon Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kiama

University of Nairobi (UoN) Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kiama. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

University of Nairobi Vice-chancellor Stephen Kiama has made appointments to positions created in recent reforms that merged functions and abolished some positions at the institution. 

Prof Kiama said no staff had lost their jobs in the reorganisation and that those affected by the changes would be integrated into the new structure of the university.

Prof Julius Ogeng’o is the new associate vice-chancellor (Academic Affairs) while Prof Margaret Jesang Hutchison will be acting associate vice-chancellor (Research, Innovation and Enterprise). 

Prof Rose Adhiambo Nyikal is the acting executive dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Prof Robert Rukwaro (acting executive dean, Faculty of Built Environment), Prof Jackson Kivui Maalu (acting executive dean, Faculty of Business and Management Science) and Prof Isaac Jumba (executive dean, Faculty of Education).

Prof Ayub Gitau will be the acting executive dean of the Faculty of Engineering, while Prof James Machoki was named executive dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

And Prof Winifred W Kamau is now the acting executive dean, Faculty of Law, Prof Francis Mulaa (acting executive dean, Faculty of Science and Technology), Prof Ephraim Wahome (acting executive dean, Faculty of Arts), Prof Mohamud A Jama (acting executive dean, Faculty of Social Sciences) and Prof John D Mande (acting executive dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine).

The acting chief operations officer will be Brian Ouma, who will be in charge of administrative support services and report directly to the vice-chancellor. 

Last week, the university council abolished five deputy vice-chancellor positions and replaced them with two positions of associate vice chancellors.

All colleges at the university were also abolished and their functions reorganised around 11 faculties, in a move the UoN Council chairperson, Prof Julia Ojiambo, said would weed out “duplication and functional overreach”. 

The positions of principals and deputy principals were scrapped. The faculties will now be headed by executive deans, assisted by associate deans.

“The process has carefully integrated those currently serving in leadership positions. We’ve already engaged all staff whose positions are affected and agreed on how they can continue serving the university. No member of staff both academic and non-academic has lost their job,” Prof Kiama said in an address to the university. 

Meanwhile, student leaders at the university have vowed to protest every Wednesday until their demands for reduction of tuition fees are met.

They argued that an increase in tuition fees announced by Prof Kiama is illegal, saying it went against the provisions of the university’s customer service charter.

Three student leaders were on Wednesday arrested and briefly detained at Central Police Station in Nairobi on allegations of causing disturbance following demonstrations against the recent fee increment. 

“This fight is one that we are in for the long haul. Every Wednesday, we shall go to the streets until our demands are met. The university must be open to dialogue. We gave them a 48-hour ultimatum on Monday but they did not respond. Once there is no response, the only way we can handle this is to take to the streets,” said Mr Eddie Mwendwa Mutua, the University of Nairobi Students Association (UNSA) president. 

The students demanded a structure that would ensure fair representation of both students and staff in the Senate.

“We also want the vice-chancellor to clearly state the dates for resumption of physical learning and immediately end the partnership with Telkom Kenya Limited,” said Kenya University Students Organisation (KUSO) secretary-general George Reagan.

Mr Reagan pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and make tuition free in public colleges and universities.

He further called for increment of the current allocation to the Higher Education Loans Board and reduction of interest rates on student loans.

“This will ensure every qualified Kenyan can access education regardless of the income levels of their families,” Mr Reagan added. 

There was an uproar earlier this week when the University of Nairobi more than doubled tuition fees for postgraduate and self-sponsored students.

Fees for a master’s degree course in liberal arts was raised from Sh275,000 to Sh600,000. Tuition fees for degree courses like commerce, economics and law under the self-sponsored programme were increased by up to 70 per cent and will cost about one million shillings. 

According to Prof Kiama, continuing students will not be affected as the new fees will apply to new students joining the university from July 2021.