Once again, the Almighty God has given us another opportunity to celebrate the achievements of KIU in the form of the second graduation ceremony in 2021. I welcome you all to the third virtual graduation ceremony held by Kampala International University. What began as unfamiliar territory triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 is turning out to be part of normal business in our institution. I would like to appreciate all stakeholders who have made it possible for this 24th graduation ceremony to happen today, despite the challenges and limitations.
Mr. Chancellor Sir, allow me to address myself to a few notable points as my remarks on this occasion.
1. COMMITMENT OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES DESPITE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN
As I noted in my speech during the graduation ceremony held in April 2021, it is common knowledge that COVID-19 disrupted everything. I emphasized how private universities were severely affected and KIU was no exception. I indicated how the Board of Trustees was forced to suspend some aspects of the much needed infrastructural development in order to sustain the institution’s essential recurrent budget. On this note, I am happy to note that the Board of Trustees has had to make certain tactical and strategic interventions to revamp the institution’s operations through alternative financing models, thus mitigating the financial shock to a sustainable level. Against all odds, KIU has ensured that no staff gets laid off or have their contract suspended due to the financial challenges. We remain committed to staff and students.
2. INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr Chancellor Sir, am also happy to note that owing to the alternative financing models mentioned in the foregoing submission, the Board of Trustees has managed to sustain certain critical infrastructural development projects in motion. During the last couple of months, the following projects have been accomplished:
- State-of-the-art e-learning studio at Kampala Main Campus, worth over two hundred thousand Euros (200,000), with a matching grant from NUFFIC (Netherlands) DISH Project in which KIU is part of the Presidency and as a dutch Partner with Tilburg University.
- Restructuring and equipping of KIU teaching hospital, notably with a CT Scan, MRI, and Ultrasound machines, among others.
- Continued construction and general repairs at the teaching hospital
- Completion of the Engineering blocks at Western Campus
- Completion of the Biomedical labs at Western Campus
- Completion of 2 blocks for offices and classrooms at Western Campus
In addition, the following are new projects at their take-off stage:
- Construction of a new Library at Western Campus
- Construction of a sports complex at Western Campus
- More investment in technology, especially for programmes that require hands-on practical exposure.
3. RESEARCH, INNOVATION, CONSULTANCY AND EXTENSION
I would like to thank the University Council for the foresightedness in recently moving to establish a Committee of the University Council on Research, Innovation, Consultancy and Extension. In my view, this has been a missing link. It is only through pushing the research and innovation frontier that KIU will become as impactful and globally reputed as we envision it to be. The new Committee will ensure that the KIU fully benefits from the wealth of expertise, experience and networks of Council members in this area.
4. APPRECIATION TO THE UNIVERSITY COUNCIL, MANAGEMENT AND STAFF
Recent world university rankings put KIU in the second position among universities in Uganda. The University has over the past couple of years consistently featured among the top 4 universities as far as these rankings are concerned. As a result, KIU has over the past four years become a popular destination for foreign institutions seeking to establish collaborations. Indeed we are beginning to harness the benefits of those collaborations. This certainly points to a job well done on the part of the University Council, Management and Staff.
I wish to particularly appreciate Prof. Fred Wabwire-Mangeni, Chairman of the University Council who has been particularly handy, cooperative and responsive whenever duty calls. Similarly, Prof. Jessica Nakavuma, chairperson of the Appointments and Promotions Committee of the University Council has been equally committed, even in odd timings. Am happy to note that even throughout the hardest lock-down phase, the KIU Council has never failed to duly transact its business. If it meant transacting virtually, they did. I thank all members of the Council for this expression of commitment and sacrifice.
What I have said of the University Council is even truer for the Management and staff. I dare say that the glorious ranking that KIU glides in today, is a result of painful sacrifice by the staff. Throughout the two years of the disruption induced by COVID-19, KIU staff have been busy working under hard circumstances. People have had to patiently take pay cuts when the situation dictated so. While staff in many other institutions were in doubt over technology as a substitute for face-to-face operations, KIU staff swiftly moved to embrace it. I am informed that research output by staff was at its peak during the lockdown, and this is largely responsible for the status of the ranking.
I would like to thank the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Mouhamad Mpezamihigo and his team to know that their commitment and sacrifice is not going unnoticed. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I reiterate our commitment to continuously improving the working conditions, and at the opportune time, to duly recognize those outstanding among you.
5. APPRECIATION TO PARENTS/SPONSORS AND STUDENTS
There is a saying, “If you want to know how good the soup tastes, you don’t ask the waiter or chef; you ask the customer”. This saying captures the story of KIU. The public is the unbiased customer. Since 2001, KIU has been a popular destination for students from over 20 countries. I thank and congratulate today’s graduating class and their sponsors for having chosen KIU. Remember that the true value of your university qualification is not what is written on the certificate and the transcript, but the true value is the knowledge and skills you translate into action to add value to other people’s lives.
The University degree, diploma, or certificate does not guarantee you any status; it is the difference you make in other people’s lives that defines your status in society. If you want to be great in life, be of great service to other people. For most of you, when you are a student, you receive support because you are an entitled dependent. But now your status has changed. You have completed your schoolwork for this phase. The real work of your life now is to continuously figure out how you can apply what you know to serve others. In the real-life after school, you get in proportion to what you give, there is no more entitlement.
The Board of Trustees would like to thank all stakeholders, including the relevant government ministries and departments for their continued support and cooperation. We remain committed to contributing significantly to the development of higher education in Uganda and Africa through consistently transforming KIU into a world-class university. We will continue to bank on your support and guidance.
We will continue exploring the heights.
I thank you.
Al Haji Dr. Hassan Basajjabalaba
Chairman Board of Trustees
Kampala International University