Professor Dr Eli Katunguka-Rwakishaya, the Vice-Chancellor of Kyambogo University has met with Assistant Lecturers for a mentorship session.
In his introduction to the session, the Vice-Chancellor defined a mentor as someone who acts as an advisor to a less experienced individual, known as their mentee. Typically, individuals seek mentors who work in their same or desired field. The mentor helps this individual grow and develop as a professional, often offering advice based on their more advanced knowledge or experience. Mentorship relationships can be built through networking, personal connections or formal mentorship programs.
He defined mentorship as a protected relationship in which a more knowledgeable or experienced person guides and nurtures the professional development or growth of another, outside the normal manager/subordinate line management.
He outlined the benefits of mentoring as: to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be. Developing this relationship can help both of them learn new things, build networks and grow as professionals. Understanding these benefits can help one decide whether to find a mentor or become one.
The Vice-Chancellor went on to unveil his Vision for Kyambogo University as: To transform Kyambogo University into a truly international, research-active institution with better-qualified staff, adequate facilities and ICT infrastructure, producing high quality, relevant and skilled graduates.
He said teaching and non-teaching staff at all levels; senior staff in particular (Senior Lecturers, Associate Professors and Professors) will make this happen. He revealed the profile of senior staff as follows:
Position Est. Filled Vacant Percentage filled
AL 127 152 — overfilled by 25
L 253 175 78 69.2
SL 135 57 78 42.2
AP 67 14 53 20.9
P 37 5 32 13.5
He noted the need for professors if the vision is to be realized. He reminisced how he, together with other members, after failing to get professors from within the country went to Cuba to look for professors but returned without them given the differences in qualifications for the two countries. From that experience, the Vice-Chancellor embarked on a plan to grow our own professors hence the concept of Graduate Fellow. This was the first step in growing own professors (not local but with international repute). The Vice-Chancellor reiterated that Professors are very important because they provide academic leadership, they are a resource in grant writing, they supervise graduate students, they provide mentorship of young academics and they enhance the visibility of the university. He advised that in life’s journey, one should ask the following questions: Where have you been, Why are you here, Where are you going?
Why are you here? He said to correctly answer this question, it’s important to serve according to the terms of employment; to make a difference towards excellence; to fill the gap identified in your field; to work hard and grow; to improve your skill sets and become better; to prepare for the future; to contribute to the socio-economic transformation of society and to fulfil the purpose for one’s life.
On where one is going, he urged the Assistant Lecturers to set a vision for their lives adding that these can be either short or long term goals with timelines. He further stressed that “If you do not have a plan for your life, the world will plan it for you”. He urged them to “clearly define where you want to be in 5 or ten years and see yourselves there. Act as if you have arrived and live your dream daily. (Obstacles will com… family, gender, friends etc.”
He added that this is achievable if individuals work out a plan of the steps they need to take to be there. “If you want to be a Professor in 15 years, what do you need to do in an incremental manner (Masters, PhD, and Postdoc, Research and Publishing, Attending conferences and presenting at conferences, networking and establishing collaborative linkages.
The Professor stressed the need to set goals, which include: working on oneself, changing bad habits, talking to and encouraging self, learning to empower oneself and learning to say No to negative people and negative thoughts. He encouraged the Assistant Lecturers to be hungry for new things, new knowledge, for growth and for prosperity. He said this is achievable when one identifies where they want to go and start working on it now, not tomorrow (Procrastination is a dangerous disease), and focusing on it every day until the goal is achieved. It also includes believing in oneself, focusing on self, being courageous and having the confidence that certain objectives are achievable.
He revealed that the pillar to achieve all these is when one stops wasting valuable time and behaving as if they are going to live for a thousand years. Above all, the Professor challenged them to maintain a sense of integrity and to honour commitments.
He said success usually comes when 3Ps of success are followed and these are: patience (acting); persistence (act in resilience and being positive (act).
He said at times people do not achieve their goals because they have no plan of action, they fear to fail, they fear to start; they are not passionate about their goals and do not put in all their energy. He said fear is the worst killer of dreams and goals. So be bold and take Risks and you will succeed. ‘There is nothing to fear but fear itself’ as said by Winston Churchill.
He said in order to succeed, people should move away from people who have nothing to add to your life. These people are: Lazy, negative, toxic, always complaining, working to pull others down. Surround yourself with successful people and shy mediocrity. Embrance OQP =ONLY QUALITY PEOPLE.
He said it’s important to identify individuals who can help you and ask them for help. You can not succeed on your own. Seek help from experts in your field of endeavour. You must be prepared to fail many times before you succeed. Success is moving from failure to failure without diminishing enthusiasm. When you decide on what to do, commit yourself to do your best and do it much better than anybody else. Commit yourself to excellence and nothing less. He added that: whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave where you are going, there is neither work, nor planting, nor knowledge nor wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
He further challenged them to expand their skill sets including: enhancing their communication skills. You will find Presentation skills essential in your academic journey through life and through this knowledge industry you have subscribed to. When you open your mouth you tell the world who you are. It is better to remain silent and people think you are a fool than to open your mouth and you remove all doubt. Be prepared for the three Cs of life namely: Accelerated Change, overwhelming Complexity and tremendous Competition. He encouraged them to: read books, attend workshops and listen to experts, as well as taking on new courses.
On restructuring the university, the Vice Chancellor revealed that the plan started in 2018 as one of his key outputs contained in his performance Contract 2017-2022. The said structure was approved by the 4th Council in August 2020 and Ministry of Public Service in November 2020.
The approved structure includes six faculties, six schools an institute and a directorate of research and graduate training. These are: Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Faculty of Special Needs and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Education, School of Art and Industrial Design, School of Management and Entrepreneurship, School of Built Environment, School of Computing and Information Science, School of Vocational Studies, Institute of Distance Education, E-learning and Learning Centers and a Directorate of Research and Graduate Training.
As a result of this restructuring, the Departments have increased from 38 to 55 departments, non-teaching staff establishment is 792 positions having reduced by 59 positions (7%) while the academic staff establishment has gone up from 1,281 to 1, 772 positions (an increase of 491 positions). The overall recommended wage cost implication for the new structure is UGX 189.1bn up from the existing UGX126.6bn (an increase of 62.5bn, 49.3% increase)
Recommendations to address academic issues
The university should as a matter of priority put in place a mechanism that attracts and retains senior academic staff and also groom and mentor the juniors to upscale their qualifications and join the ranks of senior academic staff. It is imperative to recognize that senior academic staffs are the ones that provide academic and research leadership as well as strategic direction to scholarly work in universities.
In avoidance of a compromise in the quality of education, admission of more students and expansion of academic programmes should be in tandem with the infrastructure and other facilities in the university.
In order to become a centre of academic and professional excellence, the research function should be given the priority it deserves.
The School of Graduate Studies should be strengthened to be able to provide strategic guidance and leadership in graduate studies and advance teaching and research at the university.