In a significant move, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has taken steps to address the leadership vacuum in several Kenyan universities by appointing 13 vice-chancellors to institutions that had been operating without substantive heads. This development not only ends the speculation surrounding these vacancies but also brings forth a renewed focus on enhancing the quality of education and administration within these institutions.
The appointments come as a result of the retirement and contract expirations of former vice-chancellors. Machogu confirmed that the appointments were made subsequent to a thorough selection process, involving interviews conducted by the Public Service Commission (PSC), as well as consultations between his office and university councils. The selection process, although initiated when the PSC advertised the positions in February, remained shrouded in secrecy as the results were not promptly announced.
One noteworthy aspect is the ongoing push to amend the Universities Act, aimed at reinstating the role of appointing vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors to the university councils and the ministry. This proposed change is part of the recommendations put forth by the recently published report of the Presidential Working Group on Education Reforms.
The newly appointed vice-chancellors are set to usher in a new era of leadership and innovation across their respective institutions. The names include Prof Barasa Lwagula for Alupe University, Prof Peter Ng’ang’a Muchiri for Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Prof Joyce Jepkirui Agalo for Machakos University, Prof Dr Benedict Mwavu Mutua for the Technical University of Kenya, Prof Peter K Muriungi for Tharaka University, Prof James HP Kahindi for Pwani University, and Prof Linus Muthuri Gitonga for Karatina University.
Further, the list extends to encompass Prof Dr Nathan Oyori Ogechi for Kisii University, Prof Eng Douglas Shitanda for South Eastern Kenya University, Prof Thomas Kimeli Cheruiyot for the University of Eldoret, Prof Emily Achieng Akuno for Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Prof Charles O Omondi for Tom Mboya University, and Prof Eric Kipyegon Koech for Kabianga University.
These appointments signal the potential for positive change and improved governance within Kenyan universities. To support these newly appointed vice-chancellors in effectively leading their institutions, Mr. Machogu highlighted the upcoming training workshop, focused on enhancing their skills in financial management and people leadership. As the accounting officers of their respective universities, the new VCs will need to navigate complex financial responsibilities, collaborate with various university bodies, and ensure the institution’s overall success.
However, it’s important to note that these appointments occur amidst discussions about the harmonization of vice-chancellors’ salaries in public universities. The Presidential Working Group on Education Reforms has recommended a uniform salary structure, addressing the existing disparities where salaries range from Sh921,000 to Sh1,610,111 per month. This step aims to ensure equitable compensation for top leadership roles, regardless of the institution’s age or stature.