For the University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbithi, the University of Nairobi’s journey to reach the top has not been an accident. As part of the University Management, he has had to work extremely hard to ensure that the University is now ranked neck to neck with the giants from Africa.
Speaking with journalists in his office on the second floor of the Administration block, it is obvious the Veterinary Surgeon’s rise to lead the best University in the region has not been a walk in the park. He is best suited for the job, having done his undergraduate, his Masters and PhD at the University of Nairobi. He has a second Masters degree from Saskatchewan University in Canada and several other management certifications that has eased his rise to the apexof the University of Nairobi.
The humble don, in his rise to the top, has worked under several other Vice-Chancellors before him as he learned the ropes on how best to manage this prestigious institution of higher learning. He has seen the University grow. He has learnt from Prof. Francis Gichaga, Prof. Crispus Kiamba and Prof. George Magoha in the process gathering extensive student experience management over the years. He has also been a member of Senate since 2005.
His major achievements include leading the University to ISO Certifications in 2008, recertification in 2011 and 2014. He was also the Performance Contract Coordinator, where he steered the University to excellence status, being the only public entity with Excellence ranking. Prof. Mbithi led a strategic team to map out a way forward to help the University rank better. The University is now ranked number 7 in Africa, an improvement from the previous number 9 in the continent. Prof. Mbithi, who until his appointment was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Finance), has steadily risen through the ranks beginning with Chairman of Department of Clinical Studies, to Dean , Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Principal, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Services to his immediate Office of Deputy Vice-chancellor ( Administration and Finance).
On why the South African Universities seem to be doing better than the University of Nairobi, the Vice-Chancellor noted that they have better resources and they publish good journals. Soon and very soon, the Vice-Chancellor assured the media, that the university is improving ICT and web capacity. The University is also revamping the research portfolio.
During his inauguration speech, the Vice-Chancellor pointed out his key priorities being research, staff and student mentorship to produce good journals.
Just like no man is an island, the University of Nairobi's meteoric rise to the top has been catapulted by partners, over 400 Professors, admission of top notch students and the Alumni.
After 5 years of his tenure, the professor of Veterinary Surgery hopes to grow the research fund, he as well hopes the University will rank 5 or better. Mentorship programs will be key, improvement of learning and teaching facilities for students and staff, building of pedagogy centre to teach professors how to teach better, improvement of ICT, completion of University of Nairobi Towers, completion of Kisumu Towers, completion of phase one of Pharmacy building and Wangari Maathai Campus.
The University is well positioned to deal with whatever challenges in its march toward being the top University in Africa.
Among the things the University is working on is internationalization of its student population. The University has put its target at 20% of its students being international students. Among the things the University is working on to achieve this target include putting up new hostels and refurbishment of the existing ones.
To those who have been complaining of the quality of graduates produced by our universities, the University of Nairobi is working round the clock with industry players to ensure that what is taught in classrooms, matches what is happening in the industry. The industry experts are as well engaged in review of the curriculum every 5 or so years.
For any country to become industrialized, the academia plays a key role. It’s in this regard that the University of Nairobi has started business incubation centres, where graduate with ideas are given a chance to nurture their ideas to established companies. With assistance of NACCOSTI, Vision 2030 Secretariat and the University Staff and students thinking innovation, it will not be long before Kenya becomes an industrialized nation as more incubated projects gets commercialized. Long gone are the days when thesis will be lying on the shelves without the ideas being commercialized to help Kenya industrialise. “Masters and PhD graduates must solve the problems facing Kenyans,” he said
The future looks very bright according to Prof. Peter Mbithi, the Vice-Chancellor , University of Nairobi. With support from government, sponsors, students, staff, alumni and the industry, there is practically nothing that we can’t achieve.