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Makerere University Set To Get New Deputy Vice-Chancellor For Finance & Administration After Seven-Year Vacancy

Prof. Mugisha on left beat all his competitors

There is a sense of relief among Makerere University staff as they prepare to welcome a new Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration after a seven-year vacancy.

The position has been vacant since 2017, when Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the previous holder, was appointed Vice-Chancellor. Since then, Uganda’s oldest institution of higher learning has relied on acting deputies to fill the role, including Professor William Bazeyo, Dr. Josephine Nabukenya, and later Professor Henry Alinaitwe.

The long wait might finally be over following the University Senate’s search committee’s completion of its assessment and selection process, where Professor Anthony Mugisha, a Professor of Veterinary Sciences and Socio-economics, emerged as the top candidate, surpassing three other contenders.

According to the report of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Search Committee 2024 submitted to the University Senate, six candidates initially applied for the position. However, only three—Professor Henry Arinaitwe, Associate Professor James Bruce Kirenga, and Professor Anthony Mugisha—met the qualifications and proceeded to face-to-face interviews and public presentations.

Results from the report indicate that Professor Mugisha scored highest with a composite score of 79.88%, derived from 47.64% in face-to-face interviews and 32% in public presentations. Professor Henry Arinaitwe, the acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, followed closely with a total score of 77.20%, comprising 45.6% from face-to-face interviews and 31.6% from public presentations. Associate Professor James Bruce Kirenga came third with a score of 75.70%, earning 44.7% in face-to-face interviews and 31.0% in public presentations.

The search committee, consisting of Associate Professor Godfrey Akileng, Associate Professor Arthur Kajungu, Associate Professor Saudah Namyalo, Associate Professor Dorothy Kabagaju, and chaired by Associate Professor Eria Hisali, concluded that all three candidates were suitable for the position. The committee presented its findings to the University Senate for final consideration.

“Based on the above satisfactory performance, the search committee found the three candidates, namely; Prof. Alinaitwe Mwanaki Henry, Associate Professor Kirenga James Bruce, and Professor Mugisha Anthony, suitable for the position of second deputy Vice-chancellor. The search committee is presenting them to the senate for its consideration,” reads part of the search committee’s report.

Our reporter understands that upon receiving the report, members of the Senate went to polls. According to the results, Professor Mugisha emerged as the best overall candidate, after polling 31 votes, beating Professor Arinaitwe by one vote, while Associate Professor Kirenga managed 10 votes.

Following these developments, several University Senate members, speaking on condition of anonymity, applauded the search committee and commended its transparency. They urged the University Council to respect the Senate’s decision.

“For a long time, the Senate had not received such a professional and thorough report,” one source told our reporter on condition of anonymity. “I hope that Professor Mugisha’s victory will be respected,” the source added.

“We congratulate Prof. Anthony Mugisha for winning and emerging as the best candidate. We commend the Search Committee and the University Senate for the job well done. We pray that the University Council will respect and approve the decision of the Senate,” another source said.

If appointed, Professor Mugisha’s victory will mark the end of his ten-year quest for the position. He first vied for the role in 2013 but lost to Professor Nawangwe. In 2017, Mugisha again lost and subsequently challenged Professor William Bazeyo’s appointment in court.

According to the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001 as amended, each public university shall have no more than three Deputy Vice-Chancellors, who shall be appointed by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the University Senate with the approval of the University Council. The second Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s major roles include overseeing the finances and administration of the University and being responsible for its planning and development.

The position fell vacant in 2017 after Professor Nawangwe was elevated to Vice-Chancellor. Professor William Bazeyo, who was the Dean of the School of Public Health, was appointed acting second Deputy Vice-Chancellor by Chancellor Ezra Suruma. In 2018, Professor Bazeyo was appointed on a permanent basis after beating Professor Mugisha. However, Mugisha challenged this appointment in court, arguing that the search committee had overstepped its mandate by recommending only Professor Bazeyo.

In June 2019, Justice Musa Sekaana quashed Professor Bazeyo’s appointment. Despite this, Professor Bazeyo was re-appointed as Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor shortly after. In October 2020, Bazeyo withdrew his candidature amidst questions about his academic credentials. Subsequently, Dr. Josephine Nabukenya and later Professor Henry Alinaitwe served as acting Deputy Vice-Chancellors.

Acting appointments are expected to last no more than six months, according to Public Service Standing Orders. Any period beyond six months without an extension is null and void, making the current situation technically illegal.

URN

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