The grant of full professorship titles to nine University of Nairobi top scholars has turned the spotlight on the process of promotion of academic staff.
At the heart of it is the stringent criteria set out by the Commission for University of Education in 2015 and the extent to which it takes into account the various facets of dedicated scholarly excellence.
In 2019, the university’s new Council, led by Prof Julia Ojiambo, walked into a mess of delayed promotions, partly occasioned by leadership wrangles at the top, but also exacerbated by the narrow interpretation of the promotion criteria, which had seen many stagnate at current positions.
Of the nine new full professors, five are from the University’s School of Law, starting with the Dean himself, Prof Kiarie Mwaura, Prof Albert Mumma, Prof Ben Sihanya, Prof Musili Wambua and former Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai.
Two are from the university’s Institute of Development Studies - Prof Winnie Mitulla and Prof Karuti Kanyinga. The other two are Prof Genevieve Wanjala from the department of educational administration and planning and Prof Paul Odundo from the department of educational communication and technology.
The university also minted three new Associate Professors - Prof Owiti Abiero K’akumu (Department of Real Estate and Construction Management), Prof Elizabeth Anne Bukusi (School of Public Health) and Prof Joseph KN Kuria (Department of Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology & Parasitology).
“We found a lot of pending stuff and we are trying to redress them. It’s an ongoing process with everything being done overboard. If you want to know more about the process kindly contact the corporate affairs office,” Prof Ojiambo told the Saturday Standard.
The university also promoted 15 lecturers into senior lectures. These are Dr Lucy Jemutai Tirop, Dr Joseph Muiruri Kamau, Dr Evanson Muriuki Muriithi, Dr Patrick Maluki, Dr Eng Simpson Osano, Dr Eng John Mwero, Dr David Gitonga Nyamu, Dr Peter Karimi, Dr John Mwangi, Dr Evans Nyaboga, Dr Gerald Juma, Dr Ruth Mugo-Kahiga, Dr Timothy Maonga, Dr Sylvia Opanga and Dr Anitah Kiamba.
According to the CUE guidelines issued under the reign of former Education CS Jacob Kaimenyi, to earn a full professor title one must achieve six criterion weighted to the score of 100 per cent.
They must inevitably have a PhD, at least three-year teaching or research experience as an associate professor, at least 60 equivalent publication points since attaining associate professorship and at least 40 of these from refereed scholarly journals.
Also they must have supervised at least five post-graduate students to completion, two of whom must be doctoral students, have registered with at least one professional body and finally have attracted research or development funds as an associate professor.
Of the 100 per cent score, the research and publication criteria scoops the most points at 65, followed by teaching and instruction 15, professional consulting 10, administration 5 and community engagement 5.
It is understood that when the university called for applications, a number of the candidates, initially through an online platform which automatically weighted the candidates and granted the scores, overshot the 100 per cent score, owing to their proficiency and portfolio.
Complications arising from what was considered a ‘constricted criteria’ that missed to account for experience and profile of some of the candidates led the Council to resort to manual process in which the nine qualified.