Kiama to be installed as UoN Vice Chancellor this Friday

Written By: Margaret Kalekye

Prof. Stephen Kiama

Professor Stephen Kiama will this Friday be installed as the 8th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi.

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The virtual ceremony brings to an end a leadership tussle that preceded his appointment in January.

His appointment to the key post after a rigorous process by the Public Service Commission (PSC) was revoked in January by Education CS George Magoha setting the stage for a protracted battle that led to a leadership crisis at the University.

Kiama replaces Prof Peter Mbithi whose bid to serve for a second term was rejected last year.  Details of the virtual ceremony remain scanty.

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Prof Isaac Meroka Mbeche who took over from Mbithi in an acting capacity in July last year retired last month. His short-lived tenure was marred with controversy following a stand-off as Kiama tried to stamp his authority after his ouster.

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Prof Mbeche was among the shortlisted candidates for the post by Public Service Commission. Others were Prof Kiama, Prof Bernard Njoroge, Prof Madara Ogot and Prof Patricia Kameri Mbote. Others were Prof Kareithi Ruth Wanjiru Nduati, Prof Elijah Omwenga and Prof Solomon Igosangwa Shibairo.

PSC chairman Stephen Kirogo distanced the commission from the controversy.

“We grade the candidates and the issue of appointments falls within another domain … the law is very clear our role is to recruit. We advertise, shortlist, interview and prepare a merit-based performance and forward that to the council,” said Kirogo.

Magoha after the revocation recalled Prof Mbeche from his annual leave and put him in charge as acting VC while Kiama refused to step down.

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The CS further dissolved the university council headed by Dr Julia Ojiambo arguing that it had erred in making Prof Kiama VC without consultation and input from President Uhuru Kenyatta. The council contested the move in court and were granted stay orders.

Prof Kiama who stayed put faced rejection from a section of the university staff. He later moved to the Employment and Labour Relations Court to stop the CS from ousting him.

In March, Prof Magoha backed down and withdrew his countersuit, paving the way for Prof Kiama to be at the helm of the university. The CS said his decision was as a result of an out-of-court settlement between him and Prof Kiama.

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Prof Kiama will head the institution for a five-year term.


Prof Kiama is a professor in veterinary anatomy. He holds an earned doctorate degree in Structural Biology from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

He is an accomplished scholar with a proven track record in formulating and managing academic programs and on research and publication.

He has over 16 years’ experience in management and leadership positions at the University of Nairobi.

He was employed by the University of Nairobi upon graduation in 1990 as an assistant lecturer in the Department of Veterinary Anatomy.

Since then he has risen through the ranks to positions of Lecturer (1995), Senior Lecturer (2002), Associate Professor (2012) and Professor (2016).


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