The new Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Makerere University, Dr Gorettie N. Nabanoga delivered her inaugural speech to the College  community on Friday, 4th March 2022. During the event held in the Biology Laboratory at the School of Agricultural Sciences, CAES, the Principal acknowledged the transformative leadership of the outgoing Principal, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha. She also recognized the former deans and Heads of Department for the excellent service to CAES and Makerere University in general. These included; Prof. Johny Mugisha, Dean School of Agricultural Sciences (2013-2021); Prof. Jacob Agea who served as Head Department of Extension and Innovation Studies (2015-2019); Prof. Paul Kibwika, Head Department of Extension and Innovation Studies (2011-2015); Prof. ArchileoKaaya, Head Department of Food Technology and Human Nutrition (2011-2019); Prof. Phillip Nyeko, Head Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism (2011-2019); Dr Denis Mpairwe, Head Department of Agricultural Production (2011-2019); and Dr Yazidhi Bamutaze, Head Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences (2015-2019).Dr Nabanoga presented plaques to the outgoing Principal and former administrators in recognition of their excellent service to the College and University in general. The Principal together with members of staff from the School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, led by the Dean, Dr Fred Batweteera presented various gifts to the outgoing Principal.

R-L: Dr. Mildred Ochwo-Ssemakula, Prof. Fred Babweteera, Dr. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Prof. Archileo Kaaya, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, Prof. Nelson Turyahabwe and Dr. Gabriel Elepu pose with plaques during the event.

Principal’s address

Addressing the CAES community, Dr Nabanoga appreciated the support accorded to her by all staff and students while she served as Deputy Principal. “The support motivated me to offer myself to serve as Principal of this mighty College,” she noted.

CAES staff during the Principal’s Inaugural Speech

She acknowledged the support rendered to her by the outgoing Principal, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha that greatly advanced her leadership skills. “The job description of the Deputy Principal is shaped/defined by the Principal, and it on this note that I am profoundly grateful to Prof. Bashaasha for having incrementally assigned me roles and responsibilities that nurtured my leadership skills. Your selfless service and leadership were a source of inspiration that gave me confidence to pursue this leadership position, to add a building block on your achievements,” she said.

Outgoing Principal-Prof. Bernard Bashaasha (R) symbolically hands over a set of keys to the new CAES Principal-Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga (L) during the ceremony on Friday 4th March 2022.
Outgoing Principal-Prof. Bernard Bashaasha (R) symbolically hands over instruments of power to Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga, Principal to the new CAES Principal-Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga (L) during the ceremony on Friday 4th March 2022.

Dr Nabanoga explained that Prof. Baashaasha’s contribution remains a strong foundation for CAES’ journey to excellence. “There’s no price I can pay to reciprocate your contribution to my leadership skills, except ensuring that your contribution to CAES’ growth is sustained. Thank you very much for building a firm foundation on which I will ably make a contribution.”

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha receiving an award from Dr. Gorettie N. Nabanoga, Principal CAES

While appreciating the Deans and Heads of Department, Dr Nabanoga noted that the great performance of a Deputy Principal is anchored on the committed service and management skills of the former. “I appreciate the Deans and Heads of Department that I worked with in the last eight and a half yearsas Deputy Principal. You indeed made it easy for me to deliver on my mandate,” she explained.

Dr. Gorettie N. Nabanoga during her Inaugural Speech at CAEs

Dr Nabanoga equally applauded Prof. Jacob Godfrey Agea and Dr Patrick Okwori for offering themselves for the position of Principal, CAES. “You indeed demonstrated to Makerere University that CAES as potential leaders. I know that you have a lot of experience, knowledge, and competences to make good leaders. I pledge to seek and integrate the ideas presented in your manifestos and will continue to seek your counsel and guidance for the betterment of CAES,” she said.

She appreciated the Search Committee, the University Management, Council and the Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma for their trust and confidence in her leadership potential. Following a rigorous search process, the Chancellor appointed Dr Nabanoga Principal, CAES effective 1st February 2022 for a period of four years.

CAES’ Journey to 2025

Highlighting the achievements, challenges and strategies for improving CAES in the next four years, Dr Nabanoga reminded members of staff that CAES is a great College with a lot of potential in the area of human capital development through the teaching programmes offered and research and innovations that significantly contribute to Makerere University ranking and brand. “All achievements in the areas highlighted have been possible because of staff commitment, an enthusiastic student community, as well as productive and well maintained research and incubation centres including the Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MARCCI), Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo(MUARIK), the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS) and the Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre (FTBIC),” she explained, noting that despite the enormous achievements, there is still a lot more potential opportunities that can move CAES to greater heights. “This can only be possible if we deliberate and focus to address the historical and contemporary challenges, while harnessing the unlimited opportunities within and around us,” she noted.

Quoting General George Washington, the First United States President who said “The Honour and Success of the army depends upon harmony and good agreement with each other”, Dr Nabanoga explained that success can on be realized if there is collective consciousness on the shared mission in an organization. “We are an army of intellectuals whose sole purpose is to shape discourses in our respective disciplines. This can only be possible if we cultivate harmony at CAES and have meaningful engagement with partners. This is a mission I will wake up to pursue every day,” she said.

Structural and operational challenges and strategies to address them

Highlighting the structural and operational challenges that undermine teaching and learning as a key component of the University and College mandate, Dr Nabanoga explained that CAES programmes require skills development, calling for improvement in practical training. “The quality of practical training at the College has declined over the years majorly because of insufficient and late disbursement of funds for conducting practical training. We do not have enough technical staff in our laboratories. These challenges limit the skillset  imparted to the CAES graduate, yet the world today requires human resource with appropriate skillset. As Makerere works towards improving the budget prioritization and funds disbursement routines, we need to diversify collaborations with industry to enable our students to engage in meaningful academic and work experience internships,” she explained.

Staff listen keenly to Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga as she delivers her inaugural speech

Regarding the heavy teaching load for academic staff amidst other mandates of research and knowledge transfer partnerships, Dr Nabanoga explained that most units are understaffed, working with half of the established positions. This, coupled with the low morale amongst teaching and non-teaching, she noted was largely affecting efficiency. “The effects of this include the declining number of grant-winning research proposals, delayed submission of results, and inadequate student research supervision.”

In a bid to improve research and innovations at the College, Dr Nabanoga called for the revitalization of relationships with former and new development partners with a global research focus. “Additionally, all Units should be encouraged to establish functional relationships with sister Units in Universities in the global North. We also need to work towards fully operationalizing research grant units, and creating incentives for researchers.

On graduate training programmes that are currently experiencing low enrolment, at 6% as opposed to the 40% desired in the University’s Strategic Plan 2020-2030, Dr Nabanoga said the College through the Office of the Deputy Principal would work on developing a strategy to market graduate programmes. In order to improve the graduate students’ constraint of funding innovative research, she committed to provide support to schools and departments to develop research proposals with a provision of research funds for graduate students. She also committed to foster continuous improvement in the graduate supervision and examination processes, which shall improve the current graduate completion rate from 75% to 90%. “This will require efforts in areas such as increasing the pool of examiners, full operationalization and utilization of the Grad-Track System, developing a system of recognizing best performing examiners, and supporting Units to establish incubation centres to promote innovations.

On resource mobilization, Dr Nabanoga noted that together with all staff, she would work towards exploring and fully utilizing MUARIK and other Institutes and Centres of Excellence at the College. “We need to change our mindset in sorting these challenges if we have to fast track research and innovation. I propose that we intention and purpose to become entrepreneurs in Academia. My dream is to see CAES as the Appex of impactful research and Human Capital Development, fitting the world of work, with innovative entrepreneurial operations,” she said.

Dr Nabanoga emphasized the need for inclusivity at all levels of operation, committing that she would support schools and department to form engendered working committees to address their unique challenges.

Concluding her remarks, Dr Nabanoga recognized the unique services of administrative and other non-teaching staff at the College. “The cleaners do a noble job to keep us healthy, the registrars absorb most of the complaints from the students, and the finance team are the engine of the College operations. All these categories of staff including the Human Resources team, communications team and ICT staff are our unsung heros and heroines. I pledge to be responsive to your needs, interests and aspirations. I will continue to maintain my open door policy. Feel free to walk in and if you don’t, I will walk to you. I reiterate my commitment to a co-creative approach in identifying and addressing the barriers in our areas of mandate.”

Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga (C) is joined by L-R: Dr. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Dr. Gabriel Elepu, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha and Prof. Hyuha Theodora for the cake cutting ceremony.

At event, several members of staff paid glowing tribute to the outgoing Principal, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha for his excellent leadership skills, cooperation, and improvement of the teaching and research infrastructure at the College, and appealed to him to continue offering them guidance.

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha receiving a gift from one of the staff at CAES

In his remarks, Prof. Bashaasha appreciated the overwhelming appreciation of his service by members of staff at the College. He pledged continued support to the new Principal and all staff at the College.

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha giving his remarks during the Principal’s Inaugural Speech at CAES

The event was crowned with a cocktail party for all staff held in the School of Agricultural Sciences Quadrangle.

Cake Cutting at the Cocktail Party after the CAES Principal’s Inaugural Speech

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