Setting out in 1993, Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) has made 25 years of committed training of managers. I am proud to share in its history; as it is here that I initially took the decision to specialize in management as a discipline. On October 18th, 1993, 84 of us set foot at Nkozi thereby UMU seeing the light of day as a university. The idea of a catholic university had been around since Archbishop Kiwanuka suggested so in the 1960s. However, the political climate in the country did not favour the commencement of the project. In 1991, the project was launched by the President.
A taskforce was set up headed by Msgr. Hilary Tibanyenda, who became the University’s first chaplain. Professor Michel Lejeune as first Vice Chancellor and Bernard Onyango as Registrar with a host of less than 20 academic and administrative staff were at Nkozi to welcome us. There were two faculties to start with, Business administration and Management and Ethics and Development studies.
The philosophy of UMU endeared training professionals of quality who would combine academic excellence with human and Christian values. The pioneering days embraced this belief. We involved in hard physical work, clearing debris left of the dilapidated structures that UMU had taken over from the national teachers college. We commenced studies combined with essence of community belonging.
It was here then that my career as a management scholar took shape. When we were asked to choose our majors, three options were available, management, marketing and finance & accounting. I chose management and I specialized in the same at Masters and PhD levels. Three years down the road, on October 18th, 1996, the university saw her first graduands totalling to a biblical number of 72 being sent out as the pioneer disciples. Many more graduates have since joined us. UMU@25 has continued this mission and on November 8th, the jubilee graduands will be conferred upon various certificates to make 1801 graduates of quality in the footsteps of the Uganda martyrs.
From the 84 students, UMU has grown to an enrolment of 5,835 in 6 faculties, 3 schools and 2 institutes and 80 with programs. It has also expanded from the Nkozi campus to centres at Lubaga, Mbale, Masaka, Kabale, Ngetta and Fort Portal. The academic and administrative staff have also grown to 351. I must note that this expansion has been controlled by the grand strategy of quality, which premises in manageable numbers than quantities. In her teaching, the university endeavours to give quality knowledge and skills. This has thus been the guiding principle in choice of new programs and design of curricula.
There is statistical re-affirmation that the graduates of UMU are fast absorbed in the formal and self-employment, civil society, as well as public and private sectors, local and international. The feedback of this success surrounds employers’ trust of quality, ethics training and the study environment. The next 25 years must emphasize and concretize on these as branding of UMU.
Talking about management, the current Vice Chancellor, Professor Maviri, is quoted proudly saying, “we have not had a student strike in 25 years because management puts the student leadership and welfare ahead of our work”. At UMU, it may not be that everything is silver, but strikes have been characteristic of questionable issues in managing universities.
As a graduate of UMU and professor of management, but also as the pioneer president of the students union, I take greater pride in this achievement. For the whole of year 1, we did not have formal leadership. We knitted team work and community sense that posterity would find a strong value. We used that time writing a constitution that would stand the test of time.
We finally bound all posterity to a Students Union, as against the populist student guild. Privileged and challenged to lead the first government, I concentrated on building structures, strengthening team work and inculcating values, that made the students believe in their leaders and wished that posterity would emulate the same.
Today, the jubilee leaders of the Union attest to this foundation and I am gratified. Post UMU, the Alumni association exists. It has had a few leadership issues. Last year, I was entrusted with a mandate to lead an interim government to revitalize it. My pride sustains, and on November 8th, I will hand over to a duly elected executive with three year mandate who will commence the imaging of UMU for the next 25 years; together with current management and Union leadership – we are hope on hope.
The last 25 years have been a landmark and once again, I am delighted to have participated in shaping this history. Indeed, the motto of the university lives on, with virtue and wisdom to lead the world; ViRTUTE ET SAPIENTIA DUC MUNDUM.
Prof. Vincent Bagire is an Associate Professor of Management & Patron of MUBS Catholic community
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