After months of watching and waiting, Makerere University has finally got a Chancellor. Prof. Mondo Kagonyera takes over the chancellorship from Prof. Apolo Nsibambi. The new Chancellor will now embark on the daunting task of steering a university that is currently a shadow of its past
Qn: There is confusion regarding the position of University Chancellor. What is his role?
Ans: A chancellor is a titular head of any university. His role is mandated by the provisions of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act. It says that a chancellor shall preside over ceremonies, mainly the graduation and from time to time request the Visitor (the President) to institute commissions of inquiry into university matters. In my view the role of the Chancellor is ceremonial, but also involves being an advisor to the university. The day-to-day running of the university is the responsibility of other organs, headed by the Vice-Chancellor - these include faculties, schools, and colleges. The University Council handles major policy matters, including financing, while the Senate handles matters academic.
Qn: What prompted you to join the race for Chancellor?
Ans: I spent a major part of my life as a university teacher. By the time I left Makerere in 1988, I was Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. I love knowledge; I adore it because I realise it is through knowledge, professional, technical, academic and otherwise that society can achieve meaningful development. So I cherish being involved in with academic institutions in any form.
Vying for chancellorship was not my original idea. There are people in the academia, Private Sector and Government who thought I could make a useful contribution to Makerere as a Chancellor. I appreciated the trust these people had in me and willingly accepted to make myself available as a candidate.
Qn: What is your vision for Makerere University?
Ans: The university already has a vision which is to be a centre of academic excellence. Its mission should be to design and offer courses which contribute to the development of professional skills, technological know-how and to build the character of students and prepare them to participate in the development of the country. I hope to continue supporting these.
Qn: The university has undergone a serious image crisis. How, as the Chancellor, do you hope to help improve the otherwise tainted image of the University?
Ans: Makerereâ€™s image today is not a crisis. Rather it is a matter of concern. Obviously there are
challenges. One cannot pretend otherwise. Just like in the private sector, there should be a well-defined governance culture which must be implemented to the letter - rules which must be followed.
Qn: What do you regard to be the most critical challenges facing Makerere?
Ans: There is need for improvement both in the academic and social values of the university. I have heard people talk about financing. I donâ€™t know. I believe that it is not a question of money but how you handle that money. There are issues concerning governmentâ€™s and studentsâ€™ financial contribution. Academic standards are also an issue. Some people have said that degrees offered in Mukono, Nkozi and some other universities are better than those offered at Makerere. As a leader, though, I wouldnâ€™t go by what people say. I rely on concrete evidence.
Qn: How best can do you think these challenges be handled?
Ans: Any organisation can only succeed with proper structures in place as well as teamwork. The Visitor, Ministry of Education and Sports, civil society, private sector, academic, administrative staff and students all have to work together to improve the university. I look forward to the co-operation of all these people in making Makerere realise its vision.
Qn: As a lecturer, dean and chairperson of the Universityâ€™s Appointments Board, you played a key role in the affairs of the university at different levels. How responsible do you feel for some of the problems facing the university now?
Ans: The university has rules. The important thing is to appoint the right people for the right tasks. When I headed the appointments committee, I and my team did our best to appoint the right people. The problems that are currently happening are normal occurrences that should be handled by instituting practical control measures.
Qn: You were elected to this position after a long and controversial process. How does that make you feel?
Ans: Questions concerning the process should be put to the people that handled the process. I did my part and satisfied all the requirements.
Qn: What experience do you bring to your new position?
Ans: I have spent forty years in public life. I have over 30 years experience of teaching at Makerere University, where I was a lecturer in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine since 1971. I became Dean of the same faculty and eventually chairman of the universityâ€™s appointments committee. I have served in various positions in government as minister - Animal Industry and Fisheries (1988-91) and General Duties in the office of the Prime Minister (1999-2001) - and Member of Parliament (Rubabo Constituency).
Qn: Where do you envision Makerere University in the next four years of your tenure as Chancellor?
Ans: I would definitely like to see Makerere in a better state. It should be able to attain the standards of comparable universities elsewhere or even do better. Like I said, during my days as a lecturer, Makerere was the best university in the region. I would like it to regain its top position.
Makerere to regain top position â€“ Kagonyera