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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
AFRICA
Higher education strategy for renewable energy sector
Wagdy Sawahel
A new strategy to promote higher education training in the field of renewable energy across Africa has been unveiled. The roadmap was the outcome of a workshop in Rwanda from 10-11 July, organised by the European Union Energy Initiative and attended by participants from more than 20 African countries.
SOUTH AFRICA
Bitter race rows follow 20-year democracy celebrations
Karen MacGregor
In the wake of 20 years of democracy celebrations, two occurrences in universities starkly reminded South Africans of how far the country has yet to go to overcome apartheid. The death of popular Stellenbosch Vice-chancellor Russel Botman sparked accusations that he had been ‘killed’ by Afrikaner conservatives, while Cape Town was fiercely attacked by black intellectuals after unveiling a new student admissions policy.
AFRICA
New West African higher education quality project
Francis Kokutse
The German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, has signed an agreement with the Association of African Universities, Ghana’s National Accreditation Board and the Nigerian National Universities Commission to promote internal quality assurance in higher education in a new project for the West African region.
KENYA
Kenyatta launches virtual learning ‘Anywhere School’
Maina Waruru
Kenyatta University has become the first in East Africa to have a fully-fledged digital school, offering a wide range of courses through virtual and open learning. A free tablet uploaded with course materials for every student is expected to be a huge drawcard.
KENYA
Expanded role for higher education loans board
Maina Waruru
Kenya’s Higher Education Loans Board is to transform into a major ‘development financing institution for human capital’, with an expanded mandate to lend money to all students wishing to pursue post-secondary education in local or foreign institutions.
AFRICA
Low pass rates, fraud in exams leading to universities
Jane Marshall
With publication of results of the baccalauréat school-leaving examinations in francophone Africa, newspapers in some countries have reported problems of low pass rates and instances of fraud.
GLOBAL
Regional support centre for French language studies
Wagdy Sawahel
In an effort to boost quality at French language centres in universities, HERACLES – the World Forum of Language Centres in Higher Education – plans to open a regional office in the Middle East to provide support services for countries including Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Lebanon and Jordan.
MAURITIUS
Branch campus engineering students gain recognition
Jane Marshall
The professional body representing engineers has conceded to demands by protesting students of the JSS Academy, an Indian offshoot located in Mauritius whose qualifications were deemed invalid after the Indian government withdrew its recognition of diplomas awarded by Indian institutions abroad.
Africa Features
NIGERIA
US diaspora scholars pledge help for home universities
Tunde Fatunde
Top Nigerian scientists based in the United States have entered into a formal agreement to assist universities at home, with a view to supporting postgraduate programmes. Academics in Nigeria have welcomed the move because of its potential positive multiplying effects.
SOUTH AFRICA
Driving tertiary change through country partnerships
Munyaradzi Makoni
The recently published Driving Change – The Story of the South Africa Norway Tertiary Education Development Programme, edited by Dr Trish Gibbon, describes a successful development partnership that after 10 years had activities in 16 universities in seven Southern African countries. Why did it work? The reasons start with the shared principles and values of the two country partners.

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