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My track record speaks for itself, says Prof Mugenda

In early 2007, Prof Olive Mwihaki Mugenda, drove into Kenyatta University’s (KU) main campus one morning to the sight of flowers uprooted and strewn all over the 250 metre tarmac driveway from the main gate.

She was barely one year into her tenure as KU’s vice chancellor and this project, her maiden, seeking to turn the 1,000-acre institution from brown and dusty to green and lush, was being resisted.


The project’s detractors claimed it was a spectacular waste of money, arguing that funds should have been channelled towards more “meaningful” ventures like refurbishing hostels.

By noon of that day, the flowers had been replanted and watered by casual workers engaged from Githurai 44 and Kahawa West to implement the ambitious landscaping project.

This incident set the tone for Prof Mugenda’s decade-long term leading the institution— being in charge of a public university was not going to be a walk in the park, students in tow.

“The learning environment in a university is just as important as the quality of teaching, research and publications,” the 61-year-old academic told the Business Daily, a week after her tenure came to an end.

“I was determined to turn the university green and habitable. Had those opposing the project uprooted the flowers again, I would still have had them replanted soon after.”


KU is today unrecognisable to its alumni, partly because of the green lawns and hedges, but mostly due to the 41 new buildings that were constructed during Prof Mugenda’s reign.

The structures, which include hostels, lecturers’ offices, a mortuary, administration block among many others, have similarly been the source of heated reproach.

Her critics opine that universities should stick to their core mandate of teaching, research and publication and repel the allure of real estate that is currently in vogue locally.

Prof Mugenda says the university’s student and lecturer population is growing and it therefore follows that their facilities need to be expanded.

KU’s student population currently stands at 71,000, a growth from 15,000 a decade ago while its lecturers have doubled to 1,500.

Read the full story here.

SOURCE: Business Daily.