Embattled University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kiama has said he will phase out suspension and expulsion of students.
Prof Kiama made the announcement yesterday as he outlined radical reforms he plans to undertake at UoN to improve services at the institution.
He was addressing first year students at the university’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Kiama is stamping his authority just weeks after taking over even as the tussle over the position continues between Kiama and Prof Isaac Mbeche. The latter was appointed acting VC by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.
Kiama said he has started meeting heads of department to implement his vision to transform the university.
Since the contention over his appointment began, Kiama has been operating from the 19th floor of the University of Nairobi Towers, which houses the council chairperson’s office and council boardroom. The official office of the VC is located on the 18th floor of the building.
Kiama had earlier accused Mbeche of locking his official office two days after a labour court reinstated him.
The reforms announced by Kiama centre around improved learning and teaching and students' welfare.
“We had the practice of suspending students before they are heard. This is a practice of the past. Everybody is entitled to fair administrative action and any student must be listened to before any action is taken,” Kiama said.
The VC further noted that under his tenure, the university will develop mechanisms of nurturing and reforming indisciplined students.
Kiama also encouraged students and staff to voice their opinions and reassured them of their freedom of expression.
“Because I have served in this university for quite a while, I am aware that the university community has been subjected to fear, that people, whether students or staff, are unable to express themselves freely because something will be done to them,” Kiama said, noting that his administration will not intimidate those who speak out.
“We have to continue exercising the spirit of freedom. I want you to be able to express yourselves. Feel free, don’t keep quiet and ensure you get the service you paid for,” he said, encouraging the students to speak out, even against lecturers and professors who fail to attend class.
Kiama also announced that he will be undertaking financial reforms, to ensure the university’s expenditure is aligned to the university’s core functions. He also said he intends to transform UoN’s governance structures.
The function was attended by deputy vice-chancellors, principals and other academic staff.
Early this week, Kiama sent Mbeche on compulsory leave.
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