RUGUNDA EYES SOROTI UNIVERSITY TOP POST
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda must be one of those lucky Ugandans that were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. How else can we explain the latest news reaching our desk from Soroti University in Teso sub region showing he is headed to become its pioneer Chancellor? It’s the only public/government University in Teso and by law, each academic institution of that standing must have a Chancellor who is the 2nd most powerful person there after the President (law calls him Visitor).
Soroti University, which is commencing academic programs anytime soon, must have one and the work of Chancellor among other things is to preside over ceremonies like graduation. He/she also appoints top University officials like the Vice Chancellor and his Deputies. He is also the immediate contact person through whom the University top management and governing Council interact with the government.
For Makerere’s case the Chancellor is former Finance Minister Ezra Suruuma and Prof JM Sebuwufu for Kyambogo. To be able to have the VC and other officials substantively appointed, Soroti University must have a chancellor and the matter is urgent because the President and Education Minister Janet Kataha are tired of foot dragging that has for years characterized the Soroti University project.
Stakeholders must make in put in who eventually takes the job and two names have so far been floated. One is former Makerere DVC the elderly Opio Epelu and the other is Prime Minister the amiable Ruhakana Rugunda. There must be one chancellor and not two. Neither is there provision for Deputy Chancellor at that level. Each time stakeholders, mostly sons and daughters of Teso, have met on this matter; Rugunda’s name carries the day. They appreciate Epelu is a son of the soil but his biggest undoing so far is frailty and old age. As for Rugunda he is being favored for many reasons including the fact that his posting will raise the profile of the University given his position in government.
The other selling point is that he is a peace maker and therefore capable of inspiring reconciliation amongst University staffers who from day one have always been divided into very antagonistic camps. “He is also distanced and there is no way anybody will reach him to promote intrigue of backstabbing colleagues in top management,” said one of the stakeholders we spoke to for this article.
“Being the leader of government business, making him chancellor will also harness resource mobilization efforts besides giving the University the national character.” It’s also thought that being the big man he is, Rugunda will give strategic leadership to SU without fear or favor for anyone because he can’t be blackmailed or compromised by anyone.
Already a good number of dons have been recruited and it’s almost 50 of them now on ground. These will soon convene to determine deans for the different faculties and it’s from these deans that a pioneer Senate will be constituted. Senate plays a crucial role in determining the Chancellor. National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), the regulator, has so far accredited 5 academic programs after a very rigorous vetting exercise focusing on infrastructure, ITC services and availability of staff to teach those courses.
The five courses approved so far include Computer Engineering and Science Education among others. The process is on to accredit medicine as well. The gigantic infrastructure that cost government billions of shillings is already in place and the University can take on more than 3,000 students using the facilities at ago. Many of the administrative staff have also been recruited and are in place save for the Academic Registrar James Gregory Okello who was last week apprehended and charged with theft of the University bull.
State House hopes that the University project will cow the opposition groups in Teso that have been telling people Museveni hates them since his government hasn’t given them any major project in the last 30 years. The first major assignment Rugunda will undertake as Chancellor will be to oversee the appointment of the substantive Vice Chancellor and his deputies since the current three officials holding these posts are just in acting capacity.