Copyright 2018 - #

MAK VC Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe visits CAES

A group photo of the VC (center-forward) together college staff after the meeting.

In the afternoon of the 20th March, 2018 Management, academic and non academic staff of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) converged at the conference Hall, School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio engineering, to interact with Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe on his maiden visit to the college since he assumed power as Vice Chancellor Makerere University.

The Vice Chancellor   was accompanied by members of the University Management including the Director Estates and Works Department Mrs. Christine Kakeeto, Deputy Director Directorate of Research and Graduate Training Prof. David Owinyi, and the Acting Director, Human Resources Mrs. Dorothy Zaake.

Prof. Nawangwe was installed as the 11th Vic Chancellor on 14th September 2017 and has been holding consultative meetings in various colleges.

The objective of the college meetings is to map out strategies on how to rebrand and improve quality of service, academic reform, administrative and financial restructuring and sustainability as well as institutional Human resource development.

The Vice Chancellor and his team was welcomed by the Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha flanked by his Deputy Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga and the three Deans, Prof. Johnny Mugisha for the School of Agricultural Sciences, Prof. John Muyonga for the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio engineering and Prof. Mnason Tweheyo for the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences.

In his remarks, Prof. Nawangwe re-echoed his campaign strategy for a better Makerere University titled , “Unlocking Makerere University pontential”, and the need to reposition the University to more decisively contribute to Uganda’s development agenda.

The Vice Chancellor - Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe delivering his address

Nawangwe told CAES staff that Makerere University is a top black university, best university outside South Africa, with the highest quality of staff ranked 2nd research university - a no mean achievement that should not be taken for granted.

Nawangwe described the CAES as a model college and thanked staff for the work done to uplift the profile of Makerere University.

The VC implored staff to be mindful of their role entrusted upon them by the citizens.

‘What is going to be our contribution to Uganda and Africa? We need to know that we have been given the responsibility by the people of Uganda to develop the university and let us not destroy it.

We know the economy is not good and we are asking government to increase funding so as to utilise these best resources on Makerere Hill”. Nawangwe said.

On Rebranding and Quality of Service Delivery, the Vice Chancellor noted that even if the university has some challenges, Makerere is highly respected.

He challenged staff not only to keep that name built over time but, strive to elevate it.

Prof. Nawangwe re-emphasised that re-branding is every staff responsibility and more particularly offices that interface with students directly must serve these clients well.

He said Management has embarked on re-training staff in customer service beginning with top management and unit heads.

He said the college of education and external studies has been mandated to provide pedagogical trainings to all lecturers to improve the way they handle students.

“How we relate with others is the way the public perceives our relations. If academics do bad things, they disappoint many people.

How do you associate with customers especially students because these are people we send out?

A cross-section of staff listening in to the VC's address

There are concerns about the treatment of students by support staff and their welfare that makes them feel not worthy.

These young people are going out and will be ministers, so you need to handle them well,” The CEO advised.

Under academic reforms, the Vice Chancellor informed the meeting that management has taken measures to improve examination process to ensure timely marking, release of marks and issuance of transcripts.

Prof. Nawangwe also reported that Management would like to have every staff member have profiles on the website.

“We have circulated the format. This is good for staff. Colleagues from other universities will be contacting you because it is the modern way of doing things”, He said.

The Vice Chancellor said the university will continue restructuring and removing non-viable evening programmes.

Nawangwe said in a bid to move towards a research led university; it will be much easier for Makerere to focus more on graduate training than growing a large number of undergraduates.

“ The visitation committee made a recommendation to make Makerere a research led university. Why should we be building a large number of undergraduates? If we organised ourselves and focus on research, we can make a bigger contribution to our economy.

I am glad that CAES is second to CHS. In Makerere, CHS accounts for 46% of the research and CAES 25%. Why shouldn’t other colleges with even larger numbers of staff and students lead in research”? We need to change because research will transform the way things are done and transform the economy”, The Vice Chancellor stated.

Prof. Nawangwe explained that management was lobbying government to appreciate that Makerere contributes 80% of all PhDs in the country and should be handled differently. He explained that Makerere has the capacity to produce more graduates if government intervenes to finance graduate training.

On Resource mobilisation, the Vice Chancellor said an Endowment Fund had been introduced to mobilise resources to contribute toward university activities. He added that the fund had started with contributions towards building the Students centre. He implored staff to contribute generously.

The other mobilisation effort according to Prof. Nawangwe was the establishment of the Mak Holdings Company Ltd geared towards investing in university prime land in Makindye, Kololo and Katanga among others.

The intention he said, is to safeguard the university land, build hotels, student accommodation and teaching facilities that would more than double the university revenue.

On the Collegiate system, the Vice Chancellor reiterated management commitment to decentralise to make colleges more responsible and efficient. He noted challenges of financial decentralisation saying, a lot of money was buried in the incentive.

He said, the incentive could not be sustained given the meagre university revenue with other pressing bills for contracts, part time staff, water and electricity bills among others that were creating a debt every year.

He said the financial base was also crippled by the fall in student enrolment citing CoCIS where the student numbers fell five times and by a half in CoBAMS.

Nawangwe added that by decentralising power to the colleges, they can continue with managing evening programs if they choose.

Establishment of Research and Grants Office. The Vice Chancellor expressed happiness with the operationalisation of the grants office in the CAES. He encouraged staff to use the available staff to strengthen its operations as this would help in mobilising resources for the college.

Under Administrative and Financial Restructuring and Sustainability, the Vice Chancellor said Council has been going through the Rwendeire Report and made a response to be put in the amendment of the law.

He said management had reservations on three issues including the appointment of the Vice Chancellor by the Minister as undemocratic; Principals and Deans not electioneering and; specifying the number of people on committees that should be left to the university.

Prof. Nawangwe said management introduced three management committees to involve more people in management issues . They are;

  1. The Central University Management Committee consisting of 16 members,
  2. The University Management Consultative Forum which in addition to the Top Management Committee includes the Chief Security Officer, 3 MUASA Representatives, 2 MASA Representatives, 2 NUEI Representatives and 3 Guild Council Representatives.

Pledge to support the renovation of the soil Science laboratory; The Vice Chancellor noted that the CAES has the best Soil laboratory which was left out of the African Development Bank Project (AfDB) project. He pledged to explore ways of renovating this laboratory.

In his remarks, the Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha welcomed the Vice Chancellor and his team to the CAES. He highlighted points that make CAES unique as a big contributor to the Vision and Mission of Makerere University.

Prof. Bashaasha reported that the CAES has 170 academic staff (of which 25 are full professors and 33 Associate professors, 12 administrative staff and 152 support staff. 14 are for MUARIK and 10 for MUBFS.

The Principal  described the CAES as a key strategic college in the university defined by its diversity across disciplines and value chains spanning from pure agriculturalists, economists and extensionists; Foresters, environmentalists and Geographers to Food Scientists including agricultural engineers and scientists in Food and Human nutrition.

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha addressing the congregation as the VC (right) looks on

“ We also happen to be at a vantage point for food security in the country and this places us in a strong position in the university and country. We are in the centre of innovations, the most recent being the New Maksoy 6N variety among others” Bashaasha said.

Bashaasha also reported that the CAES has several Centers of Excellence with the most recent being the Makerere University Regional Centre of Excellence in Crop Improvement(MaRCCI) funded by the World Bank. Others are MUCCRI, NBDB, Mountain Resource Centre, FTBIC which support academic activities.

Due to the college diversity Prof Bashaasha said, the CAES has close to 200 projects bringing in between 10-6million USD, a strength in terms of resource mobilisation.

“ We do lots of Graduate training. Graduate programmes pay a lot of money to the university, so we are well aligned to the university strategy.

Another advantage point we have is skilling Ugandans in the area of value addition and contribution to youth employment.

We have students all over the region where we draw private students”, The Principal reported.

He said although the college is largely financially independent and able to pay 36 workers and buy some infrastructure, more support is needed from the centre.

“Everything we are doing is in line with the strategic vision-re-brand and improve quality of service, academic reform, administrative and financial restructuring and sustainability and Human resource development”. Prof. Bashaasha said.

The Principal pledged college commitment to support the university leadership as possible as they can.

Speaking on behalf of CAES staff a senior member and oldest serving Prof. Elly Sabiiti Nyabombo congratulated Prof. Nawangwe upon his appointment as Vice Chancellor following the competitive process.

Prof. Sabiiti giving his remarks, as CAES management team (sitted) looks on (right to left: Prof. Bashaasha - principal, Prof. Goreeti Nnabanoga - Deputy Principal, Prof. Johnny Mugisha - Dean of SAS, Prof. John Muyonga - Dean of SFTNB, and Prof. Mnason Tweheyo - Dean of SFEGS

Prof. Sabiiti described the Vice Chancellor as a result oriented person who responds pretty fast to issues /requests and, a welcoming leader with a smile.

He was optimistic that at the end of this maiden visit to CAES as Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nawangwe will be in a better position to know what CAES is, its achievements, challenges and plans to achieve during his term of office and beyond.

Prof. Sabiiti welcomed the Vice Chancellor to CAES and assured him of CAES support particularly in advancing the proposal of a research led university he ( Prof. Nawangwe) is advocating for.

“The evidence is in the Annual report 2016/17 where a total of 164 refereed publications were produced by staff. This has been achieved through resource mobilisation and collaborative research partnerships by staff with institutions all over the world.

Our leadership here led by Prof. Bashaasha and his team support staff in this effort.

Due to good performance by CAES staff in accountability and research outputs (graduate students and publications), it has attracted many donors to support us and this is a big plus to the university.

CAES has a strategic Plan 2011-2021 where all the strategies are clearly documented”, said Sabiiti.

Prof. Sabiiti informed the meeting that the CAES has a long and successful development journey since 1922 when it started offering a certificate in agriculture, then a diploma and a degree program around 1961 and today with several degree programmes managed by highly trained Ugandans.

He explained that the college has centres of excellence composed of team of experts engaged in research and innovations in specialised fields including climate change, waste management, water resources, crop breeding, agro processing etc which makes CAES unique and well positioned to push the research agenda.

Professor Sabiiti however observed that although the CAES has a strong and dedicated human capital doing a great job, the numbers are few.

He added that the promise that was made during the creation of colleges to create more specialised courses and to get more staff to fill gaps remained on paper.

Sabiiti also observed that top management has remained tight on the agenda to undertake the decentralisation role and functioning of the college system.

“We are not yet efficient and effective until we get the decentralisation process properly implemented... Limited funding is a big challenge and existing gaps in staffing need to be filled.” He requested.

As for the future of the college, Prof. Sabitti said the staff would like to see the CAES evolve into a fully fledged University of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to take lead in the transforming Uganda as per vision 2040.

“CAES has steadily gone through the appropriate processes of institutional development and so when the time comes, and this proposal is put before you Sir, we expect your support”, Prof. Sabiiti asked the VC and his team.

Other issues raised by staff

During the discussions, staff raised a number of issues. These included:

  1. Consideration of CAES for space in the Centralised Teaching Facility.
  2. Consideration of off campus stations like MUARIK and MUBFs in the university budget.
  3. Inadequate /lack of Technical staff to conduct practicals arising from retirement, death and resignations. There have been no recruitments or promotions for this category of staff.
  4. Lack /inadequate non-academic staff such as secretaries, registrars, security personnel hampering service delivery
  5. Heavy teaching load due to understaffing.
  6. The need to implement Senate recommendation on external program so that BARI external is managed in the CAES.
  7. Need to plan for ensuring quality of undergraduate students to be admitted from other universities for graduate intake if Makerere ventures in graduate programmes.
  8. Need for CHUSS to vacate space for the Department of Geography Geo informatics and Climatic sciences. The department be considered for space in the Centralised Teaching Facilities.
  9. The need to develop a better system to manage the examination process and to allow lecturers enter marks.
  10. Need for induction for college leadership.
  11. Replacement of asbestos roofing in staff housing as a health issue.
  12. Plan to reduce on utility bills (electricity , water)
  13. University plans to support the grants office.
  14. Lack of a registrar for the School of Agricultural Sciences for the past 6 years needs urgent attention.
  15. The need to establish a desk to handle academic exchange programmes to avoid delays , tracking documents and handling foreign students.
  16. Need for a human resource tool to track staff performance and work load
  17. Involvement /consultation of staff associations on decisions made before pronouncements in media.
  18. Delays of money transfers and the need for a user friendly system to track the progress.
  19. Lack of understanding of the IFMS system leading to delays in processing moneys.
  20. High bills of quantities and slow process by the Estates and works department.
  21. Lack of hardware for teaching for example the college has very old buses expensive to maintain, old computers dating as far as 2013.
  22. BSc Agriculture under threat. Makerere takes 4 years . Applicants prefer other universities taking 3 years but the output quality is low for admission to graduate programmes at Makerere. NCHE could set standards.
  23. Need to rethink on the remuneration (very low) for external examiners for Masters and PhDs that comes late. There is a thinking that Masters are over examined(3 external examiners and Defence)
  24. Lack of motivation internal examiners which delays submission of reports
  25. Per diem (University rate) is very little when writing research proposals and not competitive on the market.
  26. 15% overhead on some donors scares away some projects .
  27. Insecurity on campus is a threat to life and property. Some areas not well lit.
  28. Underfunding for recess term activities and late transfers affects supervision

In a vote of thanks, the Deputy Principal Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga thanked the Vice Chancellor for seeing it fit to interact with CAES staff adding that it had been a long awaited moment.

Nabanoga pledged the college allegiance and love of the participatory leadership.

She also thanked staff for sparing time to interact with the new Vice Chancellor expressing hope to work together to move the university forward.

Report compiled by:

Jane Anyango

Communication Officer, CAES


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