Strict upbringing prepared me to handle student strikes, VC

As the first female Vice Chancellor and one of only a handful in the country, Maasai Mara Vice Chancellor Prof Mary Walingo takes ‘Hashtag’ through her journey of turning a grassroots institution into a national brand.

How has your journey in university administration been?

Before I joined Maasai Mara around 2013, I had worked with Maseno University from 1991 where I rose to the rank of Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance. 

From Maseno, I moved to Murang’a University College where I served as the first principal for a short stint. After that the position of the VC Maasai Mara University was advertised, I was shortlisted, interviewed and selected.

Just like other universities, student riots happened at the university. How did you tackle this menace?

I was born in a large family of 14 and my mother was a strict disciplinarian. She did not spare the rod whenever we erred and ensured that we were fully responsible for our chores and assignments. I have applied the same mantra at Maasai Mara and take action on intelligence before someone thinks of leading a strike.

What are some of the flagship academic projects you have initiated?

When I joined the university, we did not have curricula and we were using those from other institutions. We have since developed 56 academic programs for undergraduate, postgraduate and diploma level. Developing curricula is an expensive venture and we are glad we did it.

In addition, we plan to launch a medical as well as an engineering school. To achieve this goal, we have started with a nursing school with about 30 students. 

How do you ensure that the academic programs you developed are effective?

We have developed lecture-attendance monitoring tools where lecturers and class representatives are required sign for every lecture.

This is to ensure that students get value for their money and lecturers earn their sweat. We have also increased the number of senate members from the initial eight to 45 members to boost the bond between students and the administration.

What is MMU doing to realise internationally employable graduates?

We have developed exchange programs with universities in countries across the world where we expose our students to the outside world practices.

How are you addressing the accommodation challenge that all local universities are grappling with?

Accommodation is still a challenge but we are considering Private-Public-Partnerships to resolve the crisis.

We have completed a 850-capacity girl’s hostel, but are working on 4, 000-capacity hostel to fully-accommodate all our students.

What is the state of security at the university?

We have not had any insecurity incident lately. To further this drift, we have built a perimeter wall around the entire university and our modern gate is now complete.

This will ensure that intruders will not enter our university anyhow.

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Prof Mary WalingoMaasai Mara UniversityUniversity strikes