Egerton University vice chancellor Isaac Kibwage has announced sweeping reforms to put the institution back on the path to the glory it has trodden for decades.
His new team has crafted a multidimensional approach in developing new partnerships, catering for the welfare of students, investing in alternative revenue streams and stalling industrial disputes to shore up its fortunes.
Kibwage got installed as the institution’s new boss in December last year. The VC spoke at the university’s 45th graduation ceremony last Friday.
Some 2,322 students graduated during the ceremony. They included 17 doctorate degrees, 67 masters, 2,148 bachelors and 90 diplomas.
The professor said his first call on the seat was to settle the long-running labour dispute pitting the university’s management and the teaching cadre, and which had dented the institution’s image.
The strike had run from November 2021 to March 4, 2022, disrupting teaching and learning.
He said despite the challenge, the university was ranked third best in the country in the Webometric ranking of world universities.
His leadership also recently launched a partnership with Maseno, Masinde Muliro and Kisii universities to establish the East African Centre of Excellence in Health Education and Training as part of the Kenya UK Health Alliance, he said.
Kibwage said the university was engaging the local county administration of Governor Lee Kinyanjui to forge partnership that would benefit the institution, students and the neighbouring communities.
Some of initiatives he wants implemented in concert with the county government include restoration of the Mau ecosystem, rehabilitation of Njoro River, and upgrading roads within main campus in Njoro.
Others, he said, include elevation of Lord Egerton Castle to a historical site and partnering with hospitals in Nakuru county in health care delivery, research, innovations, and farmer training through extension and outreach.
He said his team had met gGovernor Kinyanjui to discuss the plans.
Further, the VC said he was renovating various income-generating units at the institution, including mini shops to diversify income streams.
On student welfare, he said they had initiated the refurbishing of student hostels to address challenges in space availability and sanitation.
“These hostels will be affordable to all students and I encourage our students to reside within the main campus in order to guarantee their safety and welfare.”
He said that the administration had completed a new Science Complex so that more infrastructure was available to host learning spaces, offices, labs and conference halls.
“We completed the Science Complex last financial year and the facility is currently housing various departments, computer laboratories, research labs, lecture and conference halls. We are now focusing on renovating Kilimo Hall, Education Complex and maintenance of the various teaching and research facilities including pavements and roads,” he said.
And to cut costs, he said, the university would relocate its Nakuru city campus to its own space so as to save Sh30 million in annual rent.
On the academic front, Kibwage extolled the success of an international research conference held in March that drew participants from at least 30 countries.
He said 98 papers were laid during the meeting touching on areas that include agri-food systems, health systems, science and technology, climate change and natural resource management; social-economics and governance, among others.
He said the Division of Research and Extension received 42 new projects, consultancies and fellowships valued at Sh597 million.
Kibwage said they were also investing in greening projects, citing the recent planting of over 6,000 trees within the main Campus.
Edited by Henry Makori