Born in 1955, Associate Professor James Kagaari Rubazonzya is an Engineer, a Researcher, an industrial psychologist, a Member of Senate and the Chairman, Senate Committee of Humanities at Kyambogo University. He hails from Ruhama Ntugamo District, in Western Uganda.
Ass. Prof. Kagaari has served Kyambogo University for over 43 years. He started as a Laboratory Assistant in the Department of Electrical Engineering in January 1977 at Uganda Technical College Kyambogo, now Kyambogo University.
Kagaari holds a PhD in Psychology, a Master of Organisational Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, majoring in Psychology and Social Administration all from Makerere University among other qualifications.
His education journey started in 1962 at the age of five when he abandoned the cows he was grazing and followed a brass band that would play in their village in order to motivate children to go to school. This was at a time when people were not taking their children to school.
He studied Primary One up to Primary Seven in 1969 from Rweikiniro Primary School, an old Church School in Ruhama, Ntungamo District. While at this Church School, he recalls being caned for missing church on Sundays and late coming since he always had a lot of chores to do at home before going to school.
He then joined Agha Khan, Masaka Secondary School from 1970 to 1973 where he did O’ level. Professor Kagaari dropped out of school in Senior Two due to lack of fees.
However, as luck would have it, he returned to Masaka Secondary School and resumed studies free of charge at the mercy of the headmaster and headman.
At Senior Four, he was the third-best in the school passing both Arts and Sciences. However, he did not apply to join A’ level because there was no money to pay his fees. He opted to join Masaka Technical Institute for a Certificate in Electrical Engineering where he was given the most unrealistic interview of his life. He was told to lift a tractor tyre in order to be admitted.
Despite that, he emerged the best in that programme and the Principal of the Institute identified him to be retained prior to joining Kyambogo as a Laboratory Assistant.
He got his Ordinary Diploma in 1977 and a Higher Diploma in 1982 at Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo.
He was then appointed Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1984 and later to Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1996.
In 1998, Kagaari switched his career from Engineering to Psychology due to work-related adversities. He went for Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences and he graduated in 2001 from Makerere University.
He did a Masters Degree in 2004 in Organizational and Industrial Psychology and then did a PhD in Psychology in 2011 all from Makerere University.
In 2004, the “Engineer turned Psychologist” applied and his request to be transferred to the Psychology Department was granted in 2007.
He joined the Department of Psychology in 2007 as a Senior lecturer and Started his PhD in 2007 which he got in 2011.
He has risen in ranks from Assistant Lecturer to Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Head of Department and now Associate Professor.
He has carried out several academic engagements including Initiating and obtaining a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Kyambogo University and University of South Africa (UNISA) in 2008.
Needless to say, Prof. Kagaari has supervised 71 Masters’ students, two PhD students and authored over 21 research publications. In addition to that, he was the winner of the APA Convention 2015 Travel Award.
He is a professional member of a number of local and international organizations including the American Psychological Association (APA), Society of Industrial-Organisational Psychology (SIOP) and IAAP Task Force on Terrorism and Peace Building. In addition to that, Professor Kagaari is a fellow at International Association of Applied Psychologists (IAAP), the former President, Uganda Society for Applied Psychologists (USAP) and the President, Uganda Council of Psychologists (UCPsy.)
Outside academics, Professor Kagaari is married with three children; two girls and a boy.
He believes he has achieved what he wanted to achieve and lived a purposeful life.
On retirement, Kagaari says he is looking at active ageing at work because the best retirement is to continue with what you have been doing.
He recognises that despite the disparities among individuals, Kyambogo University has grown in terms of infrastructure and academic programmes. He adds, however, that the staffing levels should be paid attention to.
Ass. Prof Kagaari appeals to government to start supporting the universities and find a way to deal with the overwhelming numbers of students.