In Summary
  • What the UoN needs is a functional and fearless senate constituted by the best brains in the university which will help it to innovate as it finds its footing.

  • Such a senate will, in keeping with international best practice, be the sole decision-making body on all matters without undue influence from the VC, the ministry and CUE.

  • To enhance management, the university should review its administrative structure, which is clogged with too many deputy VCs, and do away with the money-consuming yet irrelevant baggage.

Since Prof Peter Mbithi was appointed as the seventh vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi in January 2015, the premier institution of higher learning has never been in as much celebration as it was when he was recently removed by the University Council.


This celebration can only be understood to mean that the professor’s administration is blamed for the many ills that are bringing down the university. And I think there is sufficient evidence on the ground that not everything went right then.

But whether it was Prof Mbithi’s lack of management acumen or external factors like poor funding or interference from the Ministry of Education and the Commission of University Education (CUE), it remains a matter of serious reflection.

It baffles me that among those celebrating Mbithi’s exit are professors of the UoN, who are presumed to be intelligent people. But I think that is based on the false assumption that the university can be salvaged simply by replacing one man. It will still be hard to find a professor of Mbithi’s calibre in any of the local universities.

These professors, therefore, ought to critically look elsewhere for what ails the university. After all, Mbithi’s successor could be worse or much less the same as him.

For the UoN to take off, four things must be done. First is to make fundamental changes, like in the recruitment of VCs. The requirement for an applicant to have held a senior management position at a university locks out top-notch managers. I am looking at a Bob Collymore that we could fish from the international academic waters.

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