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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.
Interviews
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
KENYA
New rules on masters, moonlighting and lecturer PhDs
Gilbert Nganga
Masters students in Kenya face difficult times under new regulations by the Commission for University Education that require them to complete their courses in two years. And those who choose to become lecturers will only be able to do so after obtaining a doctorate.
NIGERIA
Lecturers urge new president to solve security crisis
Tunde Fatunde
University lecturers in Nigeria are increasingly concerned about the destruction of lives and property on campuses and the disruption of academic activities by the extremist Islamic sect Boko Haram, especially in the northeast. The university community has urged President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, to find urgent short- and long-term solutions to security challenges in the region.
SOUTH AFRICA
Government to accelerate transformation in universities
Karen MacGregor
South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande has announced that he is paying close attention to “accelerated transformation in universities, including setting concrete targets and transformation indicators”. The demographics of the professoriate needs to be radically changed, discrimination eliminated and student success and support improved.
SENEGAL
Protests at two universities over lack of facilities
Jane Marshall
The universities of Assane Seck de Ziguinchor and of Thiès have been hit by staff and student protests over inadequate facilities – with students at Assane Seck calling an indefinite strike, although the higher education minister has said their demands have been met.
MALI
Finance boost for university governance, skills training
Wachira Kigotho
The World Bank will provide US$33 million to improve governance in Mali’s higher education system and to support more than 20,000 students to acquire skills that enable them to get decent jobs.
KENYA
Row over ownership, status hits top private university
Maina Waruru
Controversy has hit one of Kenya’s oldest and leading private institutions, the United States International University – Africa, over who exactly owns the university and whether it is a non-profit or business entity. Parliament has opened an inquiry into the university’s operations.
AFRICA
UK foundation launches health research excellence fund
Munyaradzi Makoni
Britain’s Medical Research Foundation has launched a new £2.7 million (US$4.2 million) health research fund for Africa. The fund will support scientists to pursue projects at centres of excellence outside their current places of work. The Africa Research Excellence Fund will promote outstanding health research by Africans in Africa.
Africa Features
AFRICA
Talent of study abroad graduates is under-used – Study
Munyaradzi Makoni
African and European cooperation has produced a growing number of African graduates who have studied abroad. But the continent is not benefitting as much as it should from their world-class talent because, although the graduates want to contribute to capacity building in their fields, local conditions are not conducive, a recent study found.
UGANDA
Entrepreneurship mentors help graduates to create jobs
Andrew Green
In Uganda as elsewhere, recent graduates are learning a tough lesson – a university education is no guarantee of a job. More than half of people under 30 are without full-time employment, and the problem is particularly acute among degree holders. Now new initiatives are teaching graduates and students the entrepreneurial skills they need to survive.
Africa Briefs
SENEGAL
Pleas for bird safety at ornithology masters launch
The head of the Wetlands division of Senegal’s Department of National Parks has proposed setting up a working agreement with the University Gaston Berger, which has just introduced the first masters course in ornithological conservation and development in Africa.
CONGO
Observatory to detect pollution to open in Pointe-Noire
An observatory to detect pollution and other health and environmental dangers is to be set up in Pointe-Noire on the Atlantic coast of the Republic of Congo, an initiative that will integrate a policy adopted by the Economic Community of Central African States.

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