Former Egerton University Vice Chancellor Prof Rose Mwonya has formally handed over office after the completion of her five-year term, paving the way for a competitive recruitment of a new head of the institution.
Speaking when she confirmed the handover, Prof Mwonya disclosed that she had handed over the leadership baton to the Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Isaac Kibwage early this week. The ceremony was witnessed by the Council Chairman Amb. Dr. Hukka Wario and Prof Alexander Kahi, DVC Academic Affairs, among others.
The handover will facilitate preparations for the recruitment of a substantive Vice Chancellor in line with the statutory provisions.
Typically, a Vice-Chancellor acts as the Chief Executive Officer of the University and is appointed by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in consultation with the University Council.
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Egerton University Council Chairman Amb. Dr. Hukka Wario confirmed the expiry of Prof Mwonya’s term as Vice-Chancellor on 12th January, 2021, and thanked her for her service. During her tenure which began in January 2016, Prof Mwonya has presided over key reforms at the university.
“Council accords her its best wishes, respect and kind regards for the future and looks forward to her continued support of Egerton University as an Alumnus,” Said Amb. Dr. Wario.
On her part, Prof Mwonya described her tenure as challenging yet satisfying as she had managed to oversee crucial reforms and diversify Egerton University’s funding base. This year, Egerton University has once again topped the charts in Kenya, Africa, and in the world in the January 2021 webometrics ranking that scored universities on ‘Impact’, ‘Openness’, and ‘Excellence’.
In the most recent rankings, Egerton University is presented as high-flying and is ranked as the best university in Kenya and 5th in Africa in the area of Impact.
The Impact Rank that measures academic web presence, open access initiatives, and the transfer of scientific and cultural knowledge generated by the universities to the whole society, shows Egerton University’s ability to harness its digital capabilities thereby seamlessly propagating quality education to the masses.
Prof Mwonya identified other key reforms including the nursing of the earlier technically insolvent Egerton University Investment Company Limited (EUICO) to good health as part of the strenuous efforts undertaken by the university administration in the last five years. Now in good operating health, the enterprise, she says, at full capacity and utilization, should earn the University at least Ksh 50 million annually in net profit.
“Saving the company was, therefore, critical and urgent. The first step was to change the management and tap the head of the Department of Agriculture to lead the revival. Through this effort, EUICO has been turned around, and its risk of liquidation has been eliminated. From the annual loss of Ksh 60 million in the fiscal year 2015/2016, the company made a profit of Ksh 3.1 million in the fiscal year 2018/2019. The external debt has been reduced to Ksh 21 million, and the business units are on course to serve and benefit the University.” Prof Mwonya said.
This year, the reopening of the Agricultural focused university she however noted has been undertaken under a cloud of financial uncertainty arising from a funding gap.
In the last financial year, Egerton University she disclosed had been underfunded to the tune of Ksh 932. 2 million, adversely affecting its operations.
The underfunding gap, she added represents a capitation non-allocation for 3,822 students under the government’s Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) funding model and is almost a third of the university’s annual budget.
“This occasioned a funding gap that has kept the University reeling with a myriad of financial challenges. I have been following up this issue with the Ministry of Education in consultation with the National Treasury, and hope for a favourable resolution soon,” she assured.
She added: “Now we embark on the next phase of on-campus learning for all our students. I want to call on the spirit of resilience that has seen the University make significant progress in academics and research over the last five years as we reopen amidst an on-going global pandemic. Egerton University topped Kenyan Universities and ranked fifth in Africa in the Impact category in January 2020’s Webometrics ranking.”
Prof Mwonya explained the achievements had been attained despite the financial challenges facing Kenyan Public Universities. For the last four years, the National Treasury decreased university capitation by an annual compounded rate of 26%. The reduction coincided with the precipitous drop in the number of self-sponsored students (SSP) that was a reliable revenue stream.
Egerton University she said, has already taken important steps to broaden its funding base, especially in the area of academic research. Over the last four years, the University has significantly expanded donor-funded research, starting with the flagship World Bank-funded Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM).
Total cumulative research funding over the period stands at over KES 2 billion, with 25 significant projects currently funded. These programs have been critical in maintaining Egerton University’s continued drive to remain a world-class university.
An important aspect of the University’s capacity to attract and retain funding has been the faculty’s exemplary hard work and the disciplined financial management of research funds.
The University has also revived the almost 3000 acres Ngongogeri Farm together with ARC Hotel and Lord Egerton Castle, which are managed by Egerton University Investment Management Company (EUICO) turning the enterprises to profitability after years of crippling losses and inherited debt. These enterprises should generate significant income for the university and provide practical education to students.