Muteesa I Royal University (MRU) governing council has appointed former Makerere University vice chancellor, Prof John Ddumba -Ssentamu to head the university’s academic and administrative activities.
The university has spent eight months without a substantive vice chancellor after Dr Arthur Sserwanga was sent on forced leave last year.
Although Prof Ddumba says his major role is only to advise the acting VC Prof Umar Kasule, in the letter dated July 9, 2018 and signed by the university council chairperson, Dr Frank Ssebbowa, the former is given full executive powers on all matters including the approval authority on all expenditures despite being appointed as university technical advisor.
“The university has a vice chancellor with powers to manage its business, I will be advising him on certain issues,” Prof Ddumba said on Friday.
Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu left Makarere University last August after completing his five–year tenure as VC.
However, the letter indicates that Prof Ddumba will be in charge of overseeing team building of a strong and viable top management team and all needed middle level teams in the university.
“He will further guide, mentor and supervise the current acting vice chancellor (who is expected to spend more time at and develop the Kirumba Campus) as well as other senior managers of MRU,” the letter reads in part.
Buganda kingdom education minister, Dr Twaha Kaawaase said Prof Dbumba is not the substantive VC of the university as being claimed in some sections of the media, but a technical advisor on a one-year contract.
“He [Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu] has a wealth of experience and he agreed to work with us for that period [of one year] with clear terms of reference and deliverables,” he said in a text message on Friday.
Mr Joseph Lukyamuzi, the university spokesperson said Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu’s appointment is very vital to the institution especially at such a time when they are preparing to acquire the charter.
“He has been a member of the university’s policy making organ -council and now in his new position, he is going to implement them; we don’t expect misunderstandings between him and the acting vice chancellor, given the experience he has in running institutions,” Mr Lukyamuzi said.
MRU has been experiencing a number of challenges that also led to its closure on October 24, 2017 following two strikes by the academic staff and students that saw the Vice Chancellor Prof. Sserwanga sent on forced leave.
Students at Kirumba campus then accused Prof Sserwanga of failing to address their concerns and spending more time at the university’s city campus in Kakeeka, Kampala yet the main campus is at Kirumba in Masaka.
Mr Arafat Kiggundu, the guild president at Kirumba main campus welcomed Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu’s new appointment, saying the students’ fraternity has much trust in him given his experience in education sector.
“I have already compiled a report detailing various long standing issues that need to be addressed at the main campus and with the feedback I am getting, the management is committed to solve them,” Mr Kiggundu said
Among the challenges affecting both staff and students includes; delayed issuance of identify cards, a poorly-stocked library and engineering department as well as dilapidated toilet facilities, lecture rooms and hostels. Other challenges are unclear staff contracts and delayed payment of staff salary arrears.
Muteesa I Royal University is privately owned and was founded by the Kingdom of Buganda in 2007 in the former premises of Masaka Technical Institute and Buganda Royal Institute of Business and technical education. It has three campuses in Kakeeka-Mengo, Mubende and Masaka.
The University was accredited in July 2007 and in October, it admitted its first students and held its first graduation on April 15, 2011.
Its first vice chancellor was Prof Nsereko Munakukaama who retired in 2011. He was replaced by Prof Isaac Kigongo Bukenya who took over as acting vice chancellor until Prof Arthur Sserwanga came in 2014.