President Paul Kagame on Tuesday made appointments to the administrative positions for the University of Rwanda, officially setting off the work of the newly-established university.
Most of the appointments in the senior management of the university are seasoned scholars who have extensively contributed to the improvement of higher learning institutions where they previously worked.
A good number of them are also well known elite Rwandans or dedicated friends of Rwanda and advisors to President Kagame who have recently contributed to the development of the education sector in Rwanda or have recently been involved with designing the newly created University of Rwanda.
Also appointed were principals of six Colleges that are affiliated to the UR which will incorporate specific similar study programmes in former public institutions of higher learning.
They include Dr Papias Musafiri Malimba for the College of Business and Economics (to incorporate former School of Finance and Banking (SFB) and programmes in the same field based at other institutions), and Prof. George Njoroge for the College of Education (to incorporate the former Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) and programmes in the same field based at other institutions).
Dr Malimba has been the vice rector academic affairs and the acting rector of SFB, while Prof. Njoroge has been the rector of KIE.
Dr Laetitia Nyinawamwiza, who has been the vice rector in charge of academic affairs at the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, was named Principal for the College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Dr Phillip Cotton for the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Usta Kaitesi for the College of Arts and Humanities, while Dr Manasseh Mbonye was named principal for the College of Science and Technology (apparently to incorporate the former Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (Kist) and programmes in the same field based at other institutions).
Prof. Mbonye has been the Acting rector of the National University of Rwanda, while Kaitesi has been acting deputy dean for research at Faculty of Law, the National University of Rwanda.
In other appointments, the Board of Governors for the new UR were also named; most of them accomplished researchers, leaders and academics, as well as top managers of private and public institutions.
The Board is chaired by Prof. Paul Davenport, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) which is made up of high profile advisors to President Kagame. Dr Diane Karusisi, an expert in asset management and statistics is the vice chairperson of the board.
Minister Biruta yesterday said Prof. Davenport, who is a former president of the University of Western Ontario in Canada, did initial studies to establish the University of Rwanda.
“We think he will be helpful in the beginning to kick-start the process. He will give the university a good orientation,” Dr Biruta said.
The University of Rwanda, which will gradually run 10 current public universities and institutions of higher learning in the country under one roof, is intended to be a ‘world-class’ higher learning institution.
By merging resources that were scattered at different institutions, it is hoped that the university will improve the quality of education and effectively respond to current national and global needs, Rwandan education officials have said.
“Our university has to grow. We think science and technology is a priority but we also clearly need to teach skills in mining, aviation industry as well as knowledge in other fields,” Dr Biruta said.
The new University of Rwanda will tentatively have its headquarters at newly built structures at the campus of former SFB in Kigali, according to Dr Biruta.
Dr Mike O'Neal (Chancellor)
Dr Mike O’Neal, a seasoned academic leader and former president of the US-based Oklahoma Christian University, was appointed to the post of Chancellor of the University of Rwanda.
Dr Mike O’Neal under whose leadership the Oklahoma Christian University started supporting some Rwandan bright students to study there through partial financial support and admissions is described by the Minister for Education, Dr Vincent Biruta, as “a friend of Rwanda.”
Although he will not be involved in the daily management of the University of Rwanda, he will be there for it as an advocate for its advancement.
Prof. James McWha (Vice-Chancellor)
The real daily management of the University of Rwanda will be handled by veteran academics Emeritus, Prof. James McWha, who was named vice-chancellor, and Prof. Nelson Ijumba, who is the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for academic and research affairs.
Prof. McWha was until last year the vice-chancellor and president of the University of Adelaide, Australia, while Ijumba has been deputy vice-chancellor for research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
They were both described by Minister Biruta as competent people who were chosen by the Rwandan leadership through a competitive process whereby an international call for qualified applicants was made and they emerged successful.
Dr Phillip Cotton
Prof. Cotton is a family doctor by training. He has been Professor of Learning and Teaching in the School of Medicine at Glasgow University where he was deputy head of the undergraduate school. He served on Scottish Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) as international lead and on UK Council of RCGP, as well as being a member of the International Committee. His Masters in education focussed on transformative education.
His doctoral thesis is on accountability in health care, and his Masters in education focussed on transformative education. He is co-editor of ‘Practical General Practice’ which is an evidence based approach to medicine, and is co-author of handbook of empathy-based communication skills.
A career planner, financial manager, and lecturer with 10 years of experience under his belt, Rubingisa was appointed UR’s Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of finance and administration. He has been the Vice Rector for Administration and Finance at the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry since 2011.