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Kiama takes over from Mbithi as new varsity vice chancellor

By Graham Kajilwa | January 6th 2020

The University of Nairobi has confirmed the appointment Prof Gitahi Kiama (pictured) as the new vice-chancellor.

Prof Kiama, who will serve for a term of five years, is expected to report today.

Kiama’s appointment follows rigorous interviews by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on December 18, last year.

Eight candidates were shortlisted for the interviews, among them Prof Isaac Mbeche, the university’s acting vice chancellor and deputy vice chancellor in charge of Finance, Planning and Development.

Others were Prof  Benard Njoroge, Prof Solomon Shibairo, Prof Patricia Mbote, Prof Madara Ogot, Prof Kareithi Ruth Wanjiru Nduati, and Prof Elijah Omwenga.

University council chairperson Prof Julia Ojiambo yesterday confirmed the appointment of Prof Kiama in a memo addressed to all university stakeholders.

She said the process of recruitment had come to an end. “In concluding this elaborate process, the Council of University of Nairobi has appointed Prof Stephen Gitahi Kiama as vice chancellor for a five-year term effective January 6, 2020,” reads the memo.

It adds: “On behalf of the council, I take this opportunity to thank the PSC, council colleagues, the Ministry of Education, the entire university fraternity and particularly the chancellor for according the recruitment process and respective facilitative instruments and agencies a chance.”

Prof Gitahi is replacing Prof Peter Mbithi, whose term the council refused to renew. He takes over from Prof Isaac Mbeche who held the position in an acting capacity following Mbithi’s exit.

“I also wish to thank Prof Peter Mbithi and subsequently Prof Isaac Mbeche for discharging the duties of the Office of Vice Chancellor in substantive and acting capacities respectively,” added Ojiambo in the memo.

Mbithi had written to the university council seeking a second five-year term, which the council through Ojiambo rejected, citing the amendment of the Universities Act which restricts the powers of the council.

The amendment of the Act shifted the powers to the PSC on appointment of vice chancellors and other senior administrators in institutions of higher learning.

The miscellaneous amendments in the 2012 Act came into force on January 18, 2019.

Unlike previously when applications and appointments would be made directly to and by the council respectively, the new law dictates that interested candidates send their applications to the PSC.

It is at the PSC where candidates are interviewed, vetted, and with consultation with the university council and Education Cabinet Secretary, a name is selected and the appointment made.

The new UoN VC now has a tough responsibility of keeping the university at the top as a prestigious institution of higher learning not only in Kenya but in the East and Central Africa region as well

Mentioned adversely

The university has in recent times not been shy of questionable publicity, with the Auditor General’s report revealing a Sh1.4 billion dent in its revenue.

The university was also among those adversely mentioned for failing to submit statutory contributions amounting to millions of shillings to the Kenya Revenue Authority, National Hospital Insurance Fund, National Social Security Fund and Saccos.

Also, with the tough reforms imposed on universities by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha, stakeholders will be keen to see Prof Kiama’s innovative ways of raising revenues amid dwindling self-sponsored student numbers.

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