By Prudence Minayo
Prof Romania Odhiambo Otieno was appointed the vice chancellor of Meru University of Science and Technology by former education cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed. He took over from Prof Charity Gichuki who had been VC from March 2018.
With over 26 years experience in academics and research, and having held various administrative roles, he seemed the perfect fit for this role. Recently, the university terminated his contract as VC accusing him of mismanagement.
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He defended himself saying this move is related to politics and not mismanagement as reports allege.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
Prior to becoming Meru University VC, he served as the deputy vice chancellor of academics at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology for ten years.
In his more than two decades of teaching statistics, he has served in various roles, including as the Chair of academic department and Dean of faculty.
He has also served as chair of various committees and taskforce and member of several executive management boards in the university.
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Throughout this time, he supervised students at Masters and Doctoral levels and mobilized resources through fundraising projects among other things.
He also became a member of:
- Inter-University Association of Mathematician and Computer Science
- Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS)
- International Biometric Society (IBS)
Ouster from University
The university council stated that he had underperformed and his contract does not deserve to be renewed. He was sent home before the end of his term on July and replaced with his deputy Charity Gichuki in acting capacity.
“The university council in its meeting held on February 27, 2023, evaluated your performance and found it to be below expectations. Therefore, the council declined to renew your contract as requested in your letter dated 20th December 2022,” said the chairman of the council prof. Bosire.
Others who claimed that the vice chancellor was sending the university on a downward spirals were: The University Academic Staff Union, Kenya Universities Staff Union, and the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Education Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers.
They said he had politicized the institution and promised to demonstrate until he was fired by the Ministry of Education. He was accused of wasting funds by opening a non functional office in Nairobi.
In his defence, Prof Odhiambo said the move was politically inspired. He said he had increased students numbers from 4,000 to 11,000, turned the idle farm into a buzzing place, and transformed Nchiru market from a slum to a vibrant place.
He said the Nairobi office was a means of marketing the university with an aim of attracting the rest of the world.
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