Owing to the fact that university vice chancellors are regarded as the overall academic and administrative leaders, this high echelon has loads of responsibilities attached. For this reason, the appointment of vice chancellors is usually a meticulous process that interests key stakeholders like students, political players and university staff.
To become eligible for appointment to serve as a university VC, one must have experience in leadership and must also hold a doctorate degree. In this article, we take a look at various VCs whose exit from public universities was unforeseen and controversial.
P.K Wainaina – Kenyatta University
Professor Paul Kuria Wainaina’s recent exit from Kenyatta University was quite emotional as he convened a meeting with members of staff detailing powerful government officials had pushed him to the edge. This was as a result of a tussle for approximately 400 acres of land belonging to KU which the cabinet wanted subdivided for various projects and resettlement of squatters.
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According to the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, the land would be allocated to a World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Hub, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Kenyatta University Teaching Research and Referral Hospital and resettlement of Kamae squatters.
However, the university council, through various meetings declined to cede the land saying they had no mandate and also divulged that the land was set aside for various projects for the university. With the scramble for this land turning ugly, the government demanded that the vice chancellor and the university council surrender the title deed. The demand was also turned down.
In July 12, 2022, a teary Prof. Wainaina revealed that he was on his way out of the university and that a new council was being formed. He stood firm saying he did not have the mandate to cede the land.
“Probably this is the last time I will be talking to you as a VC. I understand that a new council is being formed. I thought I needed to tell you whatever is going to happen is because I have refused to cede land of KU,” he said.
Read more: Prof. P.K Wainaina: The Kenyatta University VC Who Landed On Uhuru’s Chopping Board
Prof. Mary Walingo – Maasai Mara University
Until a 2019 expose by Citizen TV’s Waihiga Mwaura dubbed Mara Heist, Professor Mary Walingo was barely known to the public. However, the investigative report lifted the lid on how the then Maasai Mara University VC had conspired with junior staff to feather their own nests. Walingo was sent on compulsory leave just days after the report.
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The expose revealed how Walingo unashamedly withdrew money from the university’s accounts without following due procedures. It is alleged that the institution lost approximately ksh 177 million between January 2016 and July 2019. Following a public furore, various government agencies including DCI and DPP took a dig into the matter.
It was reported that there was massive hemorrhage of funds due to fictitious expenditures and unjustified withdrawals. Walingo was later charged with abuse of office and wilful failure to comply with legal processes related to management of public funds.
Prof. Laban Ayiro – Moi University
Professor Laban Ayiro’s appointment as acting vice chancellor of Moi University in 2016 didn’t go well with some Rift Valley politicians. Governors Jackson Mandago, Alex Tolgos and MPs Oscar Sudi and Silas Tiren alleged that Ayiro had come second in interviews conducted and therefore wanted Prof Isaac Kosgey appointed instead.
However, Ayiro went on to serve in acting capacity and rolled out various infrastructural projects. It was expected that he would later be appointed as the vice chancellor. His one and a half year tenure came to and end after Isaac Kosgey took over as the substantive VC.
In 2018, during the change of guard ceremony, Ayiro indicated that he was leaving with a clean heart and that his appointment was not a ‘poisoned chalice.’
“Was this VC’s position a poisoned chalice? The answer is no. It has been a great experience. I have no regrets. My heart is clean,” he said.
Read also: From A Teacher, To Pioneering Principal Of Sunshine Now VC Of Daystar: Recognising Professor Laban P. Ayiro
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