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Thoughts and experiences of African university leaders
____This special Africa edition, “Thoughts and experiences of African university leaders”, is aimed at promoting good leadership in universities in Africa and elsewhere. It will comprise a series of interviews with vice-chancellors and others with deep knowledge of higher education in a variety of Sub-Saharan African countries. The articles will be published monthly from February 2012 to April 2013.
____There will also be responses from other leaders and scholars published in the parallel ‘debate’ column, to encourage discussion around university leadership and to expand the number and diversity of contributors. The special edition page will grow as new interviews and responses are added to it, and once completed it will remain a permanent page on the University World News website.
____It has been argued that one way to learn about leadership is to receive advice from successful leaders based on their experiences and wisdom, especially if they work in the same field. This is the rationale for the series and for an interview approach that captures the personalities and backgrounds and leadership styles of strong leaders, the challenges they have faced and the actions they taken to make their institutions and higher education systems more effective.
____The series has been made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, whose strategic approach to supporting higher education in Africa includes university leadership development and strengthening the next generation of academics.
Karen McGregorGlobal Editor
Current Interview
Leading Ibadan, Africa’s prolific PhD producer
Isaac Folorunso Adewole
University of Ibadan
Tunde Fatunde
The University of Ibadan is Nigeria’s premier institution, producing 3,000 postgraduates a year. Vice-chancellor Isaac Folorunso Adewole told University World News he had moved from being a “strategic” to a consensual leader.
Top-ranked university goes 'Afropolitan'
Max Price
University of Cape Town
Karen MacGregor
Professor Max Price has led Africa's top-ranked university for four years. The University of Cape Town's vision is to be 'Afropolitan' and it is also highly international, with nearly 20% of students and 25% of academics from outside South Africa. Price told University World News what the institution is doing right.
Mahmood Mamdani – An intellectual leader in Africa
Josh Kron
The role of senior academics in leading higher education is more difficult to define than that of vice-chancellors. But some are arguably so prominent that they inspire change – and such is the case with Mahmood Mamdani, renowned commentator on African history, politics and society.
Women’s university v-c plans to expand across Africa
Hope Sadza
Women's University in Africa
Kudzai Mashininga
Founding a successful private women’s university within a patriarchal society in a failed state is difficult, to say the least. But Hope Sadza’s ambition is bigger than that – to open campuses of the Zimbabwe-based Women’s University in Africa across the continent.
Steady hand on flagship university’s tiller of change
Ernest Aryeetey
University of Ghana
Karen MacGregor
With a career enriched by international experience, first as a student in Germany and then in academic networks, Ernest Aryeetey has steered the flagship University of Ghana steadily into the wider world since becoming vice-chancellor two years ago. This, and the pursuit of excellence through change, define his leadership.
How Kenyatta’s leader shattered the glass ceiling
Olive Mugenda
Kenyatta University
Gilbert Nganga
Olive Mugenda is vice-chancellor of Kenyatta University, Kenya’s second largest institution by student numbers. For years she knocked on the doors of management, quietly but very persistently. When they opened, she entered enthusiastically – and made a major impact. She spoke to University World News for the latest in our article series on African university leaders.
Transforming an apartheid relic
Jonathan Jansen
University of the Free State
Karen MacGregor
Four years ago a racist video filmed by white male students at the University of the Free State shocked the world. The first black vice-chancellor of this once-conservative Afrikaner bastion in South Africa’s heartland, Jonathan Jansen, has brought about remarkable change since taking office.
Oncologist brings dynamic change to university
Dr Charles Olweny
Uganda Martyrs University
Andrew Green
Dr Charles Olweny, a globe-trotting oncologist who trained and worked on four continents, decided seven years ago to leave Canada and return home to lead Uganda Martyrs University, a private Catholic institution. His leadership strategy is guided by five core principles, he said in the latest of a series on African university leaders.
Leadership a balancing act
Cheryl de la Rey
University of Pretoria
Karen MacGregor
Cheryl de la Rey, a professor of psychology, notched up several firsts when she became vice-chancellor of South Africa’s large University of Pretoria in 2009 – the first woman, the first black person and the first English-speaker. It seems the university was ripe for change, as she faced no opposition on any of these fronts. De la Rey spoke to University World News for this first in a new series of articles on African university leaders.
Managing a university on the rise – Nairobi
George Magoha
University of Nairobi
Gilbert Nganga
When it comes to publicity, Professor George Magoha is shy. The vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi rarely grants an interview or calls a press conference to announce a strategic shift. He believes being too public a leader could be a blunder for Kenya’s premier university.
Africa News
Initiative to strengthen 16 African science councils
Wagdy Sawahel
A US$15 million initiative to strengthen science granting councils in Africa held its inaugural forum in the Kenyan capital Nairobi this month. Initially science councils will be supported in 12 countries – Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Controversial higher education minister replaced‬
Ashraf Khaled
Egypt’s controversial minister of higher education has been replaced in a cabinet change unveiled recently. The sacking of El-Sayed Abdel Khalek, who got the portfolio in June last year, followed a series of disputed decisions that angered the country’s lecturers and students.
Protests greet downgrading of upgraded universities
Tunde Fatunde
Students and lecturers in four colleges of education that were upgraded into universities by former president Goodluck Jonathan just before he left office earlier this year, staged peaceful protests against alleged attempts by Nigeria’s new president to return them to colleges status.
Higher education ‘vital’ to meet UN development goals
Karin Goodwin
Higher education institutions have a key role to play in helping Africa to meet new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, academics told a European conference recently. Representatives from the African Network for Internationalisation of Education also called on the international community to develop “responsible partnerships” with African universities.
Parliament adopts research law to prioritise economy
Jane Marshall
Algeria’s parliament has adopted a new framework scientific research law that Tahar Hadjar, the minister for higher education and scientific research, says will give priority to the country’s socio-economic needs.
First MSc in mobile telecommunications and innovation
Maina Waruru
One of Kenya’s foremost business education institutions, Strathmore University, is partnering with leading mobile network operator Safaricom Limited and innovation hub @iLab Africa to offer a masters degree in mobile telecommunications and innovation – a first in Africa.
Africa Briefs
Race to finish university year as lecturer strike ends
A ‘mini-marathon’ was reportedly underway at the University of Antananarivo in Ankatso to complete the academic year on time, following a return to work in public universities by striking lecturers after Madagascar’s government gave in to their union’s demands.
Germany funds innovation centres to grow food production
Germany is funding an agricultural innovation project in 13 mostly African countries, with the aim of achieving self-sufficiency in food production.
New rectors for Douala, Dschang, Yaoundé-2 universities
New rectors have been appointed at three public universities in Cameroon – Douala, Dschang and Yaoundé 2-Soa. They are professors François-Xavier Etoa, Roger Tsafack Nanfosso and Ibrahim Adamou respectively.

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