Government announces major changes in 6 public universities

A new beginning.

The new vice chancellors fills the positions that were left vacant after the exit of previous heads, after the expiry of their two-year term.

The six, Kenyatta University (Prof Wainaina), University of Embu (Prof Njiru), Machakos University (Prof Irungu), Rongo University (Prof Gudu), Kirinyaga University (Prof Ndung’u) and Murang’a University (Prof Nyariki) have been assigned new VCs following intensive interviews.

As at July last year, at least nine public universities were being run by vice-chancellors in acting capacities. This made it almost impossible to make critical decisions for the institutions. The appointments were made by immediate former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on January 26.

Kenyatta and Moi Universities, for example, were among the institutions with acting vice-chancellors as well as seven other universities that received their charters in October 2016.

Kiambu County-based Kenyatta University was unable to recruit a vice-chancellor since 2015 when recruitment kicked off while hiring at Moi University was nullified early last year due to conflict of interest.

Political leaders in the area were pushing for the selection of locals to lead the institution, while the Ministry of Education had picked Prof Laban Ayiro to head the institution after the exit of Prof Richard Mibey, following the expiry of his two-year term.

In September 2017, however, the then Education CS Dr Fred Matiang’i extended the appointment of Prof Laban Ayiro by six months.

A section of North Rift leaders few days later, stormed Moi University main campus premises in Kesses, Eldoret to protest against the appointment of Prof Ayiro as the institution's acting Vice Chancellor. However, Dr.  Matiang’i defended the appointment of Prof. Ayiro, saying he followed the law in the whole process.

6 months of service

Other institutions with acting vice-chancellors are, Co-operative University of Kenya and Taita Taveta University.

Best human resource practices require that those in acting capacities hold the positions for about six months during which time the appointing authority should put in place a mechanism for competitive recruitment.

At Kenyatta University for instance, the process to recruit a vice-chancellor had not been concluded following the retirement of Prof Olive Mugenda in March last year. Prof Paul Wainaina, who has been acting since then, is now the new VC.

According to the Universities Act 2012, the recruitment of Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellors and principals of constituent colleges must be done through a competitive process by respective councils that are appointed by Education Cabinet Secretary.

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