Nawangwe voted new Makerere VC

Friday, 30 June 2017

After a three months’ search, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe has been voted by Makerere University Council as new vice chancellor.

Nawangwe beat two other professors, Venansius Baryamureeba and Edward Kasujja Kirumira to the job. In a council meeting held yesterday chaired by Council chairman, Dr Charles Wana-Etyem, 16 members voted in favor of Nawangwe, four supported Baryamureeba and two for Kirumira.

According to a source who attended the meeting, council also agreed to send only Nawangwe’s name to the chancellor, Prof Ezra Suruma, who according to the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, is supposed to appoint the vice chancellor. 

In a congratulatory letter to Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu said, “I write to extend congratulations upon emerging winner of the search process for the next vice chancellor of Makerere University. This is to affirm my support as we transition through the remaining two months of my tenure as VC.”

Yesterday’s meeting came on the heels of the Wednesday Senate meeting that adopted the report of the Vice Chancellor Search Committee, which ranked Nawangwe ahead of his competitors. 

Prof Barnabas Nawangwe

According to sources that attended the meeting, some members tried to resist the three names, arguing that none of them ticked the boxes for being vice chancellor.

“Baryamureeba left this university in protest and even started his own university to compete with Makerere. He even took our teachers; how can he then turn around and seek leadership in the same university he has been criticizing in the newspapers?” a source quoted one Senate member as saying. 

One member reportedly wondered how Kirumira, who he claimed has failed to manage a college, can then seek to lead the whole university.

“Nawangwe has been part of the system they say has failed to manage the university, he was very poor at presentation and he has been disrespectful to the vice chancellor, Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu and other university officials; how is he going to unite the different cliques he has been part of,” another member who attended the meeting but declined to be named for fear of victimization, said.

The search committee led by Irene Ovonji-Odida received four applications for the post. Prof Elisam Magara was rejected on ethical grounds.

“Based on the eligibility criteria, all four applications had the required documentations. However, [Magara] was not shortlisted because he did not meet the eligibility criteria relating to integrity due to a pending disciplinary case,” the search committee report read in part.

To arrive at the best candidate, the committee held meetings, interviews, analyzed documents and held public presentations for the three candidates who were shortlisted.

The committee also assessed and scored candidates in three stages; assessment of their applications and other documents, face-to-face interviews and public presentations including a public debate.

On all the criteria assessed, Prof Nawangwe emerged the best with 77 per cent followed by Prof Kirumira with 70 per cent and Baryamureeba coming third with 64 per cent.

However, the committee noted that whereas the catchment area for the possible applicants was extensive, the position attracted relatively few applicants, a trend similar to other positions of academic nature at Makerere and other universities.

The committee thinks this could be partly due to the unattractive terms and privileges that come with the position compared to the duties and assignments associated with it.

“Makerere University should put in place an attractive package for the VC position and other academic leadership positions,” the committee recommended.