Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University Council has deferred the approval of the appointment of Professor Damalie Nakanjako as the next Principal College of Health Sciences.
Professor Nakanjako scored an average mark of 76.2% while her challenger, Professor Joloba scored 77.3% out of the agreed 60% pass mark. The search committee however declined to recommend Professor Joloba for appointment due to “…several complaints against him” despite lack of a conclusive report on the status of the complaints and evidence of disciplinary action against him.
However, the College staff are protesting the search process and criteria for selection of the principal. The university council received the staff petition protesting Prof. Nakanjako’s appointment at its special meeting held on February 19, 2020. In their petition, the staff said they were alienated from participating in the selection process, which they say was strange to them as it contravenes guiding laws and principles.
They said they were not consulted throughout the process and that the public presentations were done only as an attempt to sugarcoat the process, after removing the academic rights of the constituent faculty. Sections 53 and 54 of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act (UOTIA) provides for election of a Dean or Director of a faculty, institution or college and other academic body by its academic staff from among its members, in line with the procedures proposed by the senate and approved by University Council.
The same provision stipulates that; “an Academic Staff who would have attained the age of 56 years at the closure of nominations shall not be eligible for election as academic heads.” Relatedly, the recruitment procedure as per the Makerere University Human Resources Manual (2009) stipulates that election of Principal/Dean/Director/Head of Department shall be conducted as prescribed in the UOTIA.
The staff said the search committee process applied the amendments of Makerere University Management of Constituent College Stature 2012 in retrospect; an act they say is questionable in line with the spirit with which the policy was made. It should be noted that Makerere University advertised positions of Principal and Deputy Principal on September 26th, 2019 and again re-advertised the same positions on November 11th, 2019 with deadlines October 16th and November 22nd respectively.
The Council at its December 20, 2019 sitting made amendments to the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions (Management of Constituent Colleges of Makerere University) statute 2012, guiding the search process, after all candidates had submitted their applications. URN has seen a copy of the January 31st 2020 Uganda Gazette where this said amendment was published.
“The facts above leave one wondering why should a great institution in the ranks of Makerere University amend a statute to be used in a search process of top academic leaders one month after receiving application from potential candidates and why gazette such a policy after the process is completed, almost six months since the process was commenced?” questions staff.
The College staff also contend that Professor Nakanjako doesn’t have the requisite experience for the job. As per the shortlisting tool by the search committee, one of the minimum requirements was at least four years of managerial ability and experience in an institution of higher learning. A person to qualify is expected to have at least been a Head of department, Dean of School, or Deputy Principal.
“The recommended candidate for Principal MakCHS, has never been Chair/ Head of Department, but has been a substantive Dean (School of Medicine) for only three months, having served previously as Deputy Dean –a position that does not exist in the University Structure,” say staff of the college in their petition to council.
On February 12, 2020, the Senate sat to deliberate over the qualifications of candidates selected for the positions including the College of Health Sciences. It is during this meeting that members punched holes in the search committee recommendation to appoint Professor Nakanjako as head of College. Council noted that the petition had been received late in relation to the date of the Council meeting, noting that more time was needed to study the matters raised.
“…Council agreed to defer consideration of the Senate recommendation of the candidate for Principal of the College of Health Sciences pending the decision on the petition raised by staff of the College. The said petition shall be handled within a period of two weeks,” said Lorna Magara, the Chairperson of the Makerere University Council.
Council approved and recommended to the Chancellor for appointment, the appointment of candidates for the positions of Principal and Deputy Principal in other competing colleges. Those approved for appointment include Dr. Josephine Ahikire, the Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Eria Hisali, Principal, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) and Dr. Bruno Yawe, Deputy Principal. Dr. Moses Kajja was approved for appointment as Deputy Principal, College of Health Sciences.
The search committee report shows that four of the six candidates that expressed interest for the Principal had their applications rejected by the search committee for various reasons. They included incumbent Professor, Charles Ibingira, Professor Sarah Kiguli, Dr. Josephat Byamugisha, and Professor Jacinta Opara.
For instance, the report shows that Dr. Opara was in addition to being a non-Uganda citizen had no proof of PhD, academic ranking and proof of academic leadership. The incumbent director Makerere University Hospital, Dr. Byamugisha wasn’t shortlisted.
According to the report, the search team received one recommendation letter, for his application after rejecting the second one that was submitted on November 25, 2019. The search team also disclosed that it couldn’t find proof of the PhDs for Professors Sarah Kiguli and Charles Ibingira.