Uganda Martyrs University gets new Chancellor and new President of Alumni
I am writing this article as the 5th Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs University has been installed, shortly after I handed over as President of the Alumni. Feeling nostalgic of what has gone on over the years since the installation of the first Chancellor, the function that I witnessed compelled me to put down my reflection on some management issues for Christian Leaders in succession and taking over a new office.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Anthony Zziwa took over as the new Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs University on Friday, 15th February 2019. By statute, the Chancellor is the titular head of the University. He or she presides over all corporate events of the university, particularly, the award of academic qualifications. The Chancellor inspires and guides the strategic direction of the university. This is a top notch role. Uganda Martyrs University has the Patron as the overall inspirer of the institution. By statues, the Archbishop of Kampala is the Patron of UMU. The Chancellor on the other hand shall be the Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference.
As in other universities, a Governing Council is the board of directors on behalf of the owners. The Council decisions and directions then stream downwards through the Vice Chancellor and his management team.
I was privileged to seat on that first Council as president of the pioneer students’ union. Now as the new Chancellor is taking over and a Governing Council is in place, I will in two weeks’ time take oath as member of that council representing the alumni. This is a system of succession engrossed by structures and institutions. Individuals have come and run the institution and left. They have made their contributions and left their mark. The size, magnitude and impact definitely differ. We may not wisely hold any one to ransom for what they did.
But in human nature, we quickly lament how the outgoing has left “big shoes” for the new person. I find this not a wise approach; as it is as if saying the new person is not worthy what they have been elected to do. For me therefore, whenever I take a new office, I do not mind the big shoes! I come in with my own shoes. Period.
The issue of succession is delicate to write about in Uganda. It has eluded us at national level and many institutions have struggled with it. Here, I will limit myself to succession at management level when individuals exchange offices. There is a common exclamation that the ‘shoes are big; he will not fit in them’. Indeed, some newly appointed when taking over offices reaffirm the fear in their acceptance speeches. What an irony! But less do we think of the damage it may cause to the successor. There should normally not be ‘too large shoes’ to be fitted by a well chosen successor.
I have recently published two articles on systems in this very Magazine. They are the first confidence to any nearly appointed person to fit into a new position. Then next is the personality which could be the area of contention but fortunately accounts for a relatively smaller percentage. Whoever is leaving the ‘shoes’ should also have found the same perception when he entered. Be it that systems are in place and the only challenge is the persona of the one coming in, then the option is one and simple, ‘to come in with my own shoes’ so the claim that the person will not fit the big shoes left by the predecessor is put to rest.
As Uganda Martyrs University gets the 5th Chancellor, the outgoing, The Most Reverend John Baptist Odama has steered the institution for the last 8 years. UMU has grown in enrollment, campuses, programs and public image. The Vice chancellors have changed three times; members of management have changed but each year, the institution never failed to graduate students. The outgoing Chancellor has definitely done a great job. He has left ‘big shoes’. There are systems and institutions and Rt. Rev. Dr. Anthony Zziwa will fit in them.
Conversely, I am handing over as the President of the Alumni. I have definitely left “Big Shoes”. My successor, Mr. Ambrose Kibuuka, will certainly fit in them. The UMU Alumni Association has had challenges but during my tenure, we have revitalized the systems and his work will be to knit them better. All those to come after us will find big shoes, not too big though. If so, they come in with their own. That is where succession management should start from.
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