In October 2009, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba was appointed in the acting capacity as Makerere University vice-chancellor for the first time. This was after the then 39-year-old professor had defeated his three rivals including Prof. Edward Kirumira, Prof. Livingstone Luboobi, and Prof Ddumba Ssentamu.
This made Prof Barya like most students fondly called him become the youngest ever VC. At the time, Prof Baryamureeba had acquired a PhD in computer science.
Following his appointment, Prof Baryamureeba moved swiftly to fulfill his promise, developing an innovative ICT-enabled service delivery strategy which included fully integrating the university information systems, creating a one-stop information centre, deployment of an incident/query management system, providing help-desk services using a compendium of latest technologies, and deploying Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system for internal communication.
It was also during Prof Baryamureeba’s time that Makerere University’s ranking rose in an unprecedented manner.
For instance, five months into his first stint as Makerere’s VC, the university had jumped from 20 to number 15 in Africa, making it the best in the East African region.
However, following his exit, Prof Baryamureeba’s achievements started to wither as the university rankings started to suffer as a result of rampant strikes that generally affected the performance and ranking of Uganda’s oldest university.
It should also be remembered that Prof Barya had turned the university budget deficit from Shs14b to just Shs2b within five months following his appointment.
Museveni supports Prof Barya return
It is no doubt that President Museveni has made it clear that he wants Prof Baryamureeba who had dealt with most of the university’s problems to take charge of the university. Information available to this website indicates that Prof Ddumba whose tenure has been marred by strikes was asked to pull out in favor of Prof Barya.
According to reliable sources, the president has had a lot of headache as the Head of State as a result of the mismanagement of issues at Makerere. Mr Museveni, however, feels that with Prof Barya back at the Ivory Tower, he will have time to focus on other sectors.
Late last year, President Museveni was forced to intervene and close down Makerere after the university management had failed to resolve issues that had made strikes inevitable. This could explain why the self-acclaimed freedom fighter wants Prof Barya who challenged him during the 2016 elections for the presidency.
Prof Baryamureeba who left Makerere to form his own UTAMU following intrigue at the institution faces competition from Prof Edward Kirumira who is currently the Principal of College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Another contender is Prof Barnabus Nawangwe, the current Vice Chancellor in charge of finance and administration who shares the blame for the current challenges facing the university.
During a pubic pitch by the three candidates, Prof Barya explained how he would turn around the fortunes of the university and make it shine again.
Prof Barya’s selling points
Prof Baryamureeba’s statement focused on many issues including the following points.
- Makerere University is to be the leading institution for academic excellence and innovations in Africa.
- Work with middle level and senior managers to handle the academic, administrative and financial affairs and public relations function of the University.
- Ensure that Makerere University is fully computerized to enable transparent, efficient and effective service delivery in all operations and processes.
- Aggressively mobilise financial resources, diversify sources of revenue, implement the investment strategy of the University and deploy prudent financial management practices to ensure financial sustainability of the University.
- In the next five years, focus on initiatives for improving teaching and learning infrastructure, promoting e-learning and learner-centred and andragogical methods through staff and student training as well as mainstream open, distance, e-learning, m-learning and tele-education approaches.
- Makerere University to start ‘’Makerere University Open Campus’’ that will use online teaching for programmes.
- Commercialisation of innovations and exploitation of intellectual property rights. This will involve incubating business startups in partnership with venture capitalists including those in Silicon Valley. Makerere University shall buy equity in promising startups and should be able to own shares worth at least USD 1 billion by 2022.
- Bridge the gap between academia and practice with an aim of making Makerere University relevant in spurring development in Uganda and beyond.
- Implement the University Strategic Plan through building winning teams in the University.