Change looms at varsity as Prof Kiama sent on leave

University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof. Stephen Gitahi Kiama when he appeared before the Public Investments Committee on Education & Governance at the Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The University of Nairobi is undergoing a leadership transition as Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama has been sent on leave, pending his exit.

According to an internal communication from the university's council chairman, Prof Amukoa Anangwe, the decision was made during a meeting on April 19, where Prof Kiama was given a six-month leave, effective immediately.

“The council resolved that the Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama Gitahi proceeds on leave effective April 19, 2024,” Anangwe said. In his place, Prof Ayub Njoroge Gitau, the Dean Faculty of Engineering, will serve as the Acting Vice-Chancellor.

“The University fraternity is called upon to support prof Ayub Njoroge Gitau as he discharges his new responsibility as the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi,” he stated.

Anangwe urged the university fraternity to support Prof Gitau in his new role. This development comes after a previous clash between Prof Kiama and the council over his leave days.

In September 2023, the council rejected Prof Kiama's attempt to resume duty, stating that their resolution to grant him leave had not been overturned.

Despite this, Prof Kiama returned to his duties, leading to further disagreement with the council.

“I have already spent the day visiting campuses and discharging duties in the vice chancellor’s office without prior variation/cancellation of your six months’ leave by the council,” Kiama said.

Prof Anangwe then termed the letter by the VC as "unprocedural, untenable and not acceptable to the council."

Prof Kiama had previously announced his decision not to seek a second term as Vice Chancellor after his initial six-month leave.

This change in leadership at the University of Nairobi coincides with a similar transition at Kenyatta University, where Vice Chancellor Prof Wainaina went on leave. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Waceke Wanjohi is acting VC while he is on leave.

Prof Kiama's tenure began on January 4, 2020, after being appointed by the university's council chairperson, Prof Julia Ojiambo, for a five-year term.

He had served as a member of the University of Nairobi Senate and University Executive Board since 2003 and 2016 respectively.

In 2003, he was appointed as the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.