The core value of transparency has been promoted.
By Rt. Rev. Dr. Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa
The crave for higher education in Uganda has witnessed the birth of about 59 universities with 40 having provisional licence status, 9 private chartered status, 9 public universities and 1, Islamic University in Uganda established by Act of Parliament.
While some universities have closed in infancy and others after a decade, a few others like Bishop Stuart University have weathered the storm and not only received a charter but celebrated two decades of higher education service delivery. The BSU week, a yearly calendar event that was concluded recently is a celebration of the charter week through different academic and community activities that have distinguished the university as an institution that meets the needs of the students, staff and community.
Apart from the evangelistic crusades that attracted eminent evangelists like Dr. Peter Asiimwe and Dr. Ruth Senyonyi, the programme activities included a day long research dissemination workshop, a staff workshop, a mobile health camp and safe motherhood run which were presided over by Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, Executive Director National Drugs Authority. The painting of Zebra crossing in Mbarara, Kasese and Rukungiri towns by BSU students and staff was another community highlight activity.
Another exciting event of the BSU week was the exhibition of innovations by students in their professional fields of Economics, Art, Law, Nursing etc. Plenary sessions to address topics like Joseph’s generation model of Christian leadership, injustices in society and rebuilding our hearts for God’s glory were delivered. Alongside these sessions, counselling was offered to students in need. The BSU week was dotted with some Games and Sports, including the official launch of the game of golf for BSU students by Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, following donation of equipment by Hon. John Byabagambi.
The cultural gala which was graced by Hon. Prof. Kamuntu Minister of Tourism was a colourful display of different Ugandan Music, Dance and Drama creations. The climax student activity was a football tournament dubbed the VCs cup, which was won by the Department of Psychology. The vibrancy of BSU has been made possible by the visionary leadership of the Chancellor Prof. Mauda K Mugisha. Apparently her top leadership team comprising the University Secretary Mrs. Peace Tindyebwa, Finance Officer Mrs. Jane Bibangamba and Academic Registrar Mr. Ariho Abdon Rutega is dominated by females.
The promotion of the vision of the university, ‘our God reigns’ and the mission and objectives of the university as prescribed by Ankole Diocesan Synod, the vision bearers and proprietors of the University, has been the flag-ship of good service delivery. The core value of transparency has been promoted to an extent that in 2017 financial year, the university council led by Prof. Elly Sabiti offered all teaching and non-teaching staff a 13th pay cheque meaning that workers are paid for an extra month they don’t work for, as an incentive.
Such incentives are rare even in established Universities since what we often read about are shortfalls in funds leading to accumulated delayed payment of salaries and suppliers. Most recently the university purchased a one billion building facility on about 3.08 acres of land that has been turned into an executive home for Faculty of law. Construction of a six storied library and the four storied science laboratory with 36 rooms are underway. With all these developments, BSU is now classified under Medium Tax Payers (MTO) since it pays over 1.2 billion in taxes.
With the recruitment of about 10 fulltime Professors and 37 PhDs, and other professionals, the quality of staff is good. Coupled with infrastructural development in the 4627strong Student University, I see the biggest challenge as making use of the newly purchased 400m University Xerox 700i digital colour printing machine in rolling out publications and research dissemination.
Engaging in online dissemination of research carried out mainly by staff will be critical so that international web ranking agencies like webometrics can tap into the vibrant BSU publications, academic programmes and community service to feature alongside universities like Makerere University and Uganda Christian University which were most recently ranked first and second in Uganda.
The writer is The chancellor Bishop Stuart University and Chairperson UCU Council