The year 2020 has finally come to a close. It has been dubbed a year like no other. This is because it presented more threats than opportunities to the whole world. Most world leaders argued that staying afloat alone in 2020 should be equated to success. Amidst these threats, MUA achieved a number of milestones.
The Chancellor presided over a number of functions of the University in accordance with the statutes. Some of the functions included chairing select University meetings, inspection for award of charter; presiding over the 7th graduation ceremony held virtually but hosted at the Main Campus, Kisaju; and installation of the 3rd Vice-Chancellor of MUA. The Governing Council held all its meetings successfully during the year and made several approvals in line with the University statutes. Among the key activities were approval of 2019 audited accounts; recruitments and appointments of the 3rd Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic, Research and Extension), three Associate Professors and Registrar (Academic, and Students Affairs).
Teaching and Learning
When the Covid-19 pandemic caused indefinite closure in Kenya of Universities and other learning institutions in March 2020, MUA continued teaching and learning through ODeL and interactive online systems. The examination timetables were however interrupted briefly since face-to-face activities were disallowed by the Government of Kenya. Nevertheless, the University used online platform to successfully administer the January-April 2020, May-August 2020 and September-December 2020 examinations. In addition, other learning activities such as research supervision, proposal and thesis defenses, industrial attachment, and community service were all conducted virtually.
The University undertook research activities through different teams including students, staff, and collaborations. In the process, a total of over 100 research papers were written most of which were disseminated during the 8th MUA virtual International Conference from 10th to 11th September 2020 which attracted over 150 participants from Japan, USA, UK, India, Africa among other places; publications in three volumes of MUA’s International Journal of Management and Leadership Studies (IJMLS); other peer reviewed journals; and MUA Repository.
Student linkage activities including orientations, industrial attachments, community service, and graduation ceremony were held successfully through virtual links. Sporting activities were however impacted as these could not be conducted due to observance of social distancing protocols.
ICT and Security Services
The University relied more on ICT in 2020 to reach out and provide services to its clients. The main services fully provided through ICT included student admissions and orientations; teaching and learning; examination administration; financial management; library services; graduation; conferences; meetings; interviews; research supervision and defenses; and training. The department also ensured security and safety of University assets by engaging cost effective outsourced services in the two campuses.
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, majority of marketing activities to attract clients shifted to social media and the visual channels. The University generated leads through the social media platforms and converted some of them into clients. Collaborations with tertiary and other colleges were also pursued through which some partnerships were created which were cemented through Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs). The department also worked towards increasing the visibility of the University by establishing partnerships with media houses including Switch TV to: livestream the 7th graduation ceremony held at Kisaju on 27th November 2020; conduct interviews; disseminate research articles through print media.
Quality Assurance (QA)
The University takes quality assurance matters seriously and ensured all quality assurance related activities were conducted successfully during the year. These included tracer surveys, teaching effectiveness evaluation, programme and institutional accreditation inspections, and departmental audits. Of greater significance, the department coordinated University’s inspection by CUE for: Award of charter in August 2020; Accreditation of Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration and Bachelor of Education Arts; Accreditation of online and blended mode of study; Conversion of accredited programmes to online mode; and given approval to start offering revised Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies (BDS) and Bachelor of Management and Leadership (BML).
Executive Capacity Development Programmes (ECDP)
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic significantly impacting the number of opportunities due to observance of the WHO protocols, the University continued to train its clients through ECDP. The department focused mainly on NITA registered organizations and conducted a number of trainings by the end of the year of which eight happened in the month of November alone. The department primarily used in-house consultants and reduced the training charges by 30% as strategies to manage costs and attract more clients. ECDP also diversified the delivery of its trainings to include online and acquired some new clients during the year.
Human Resource Development and Administration
The University implemented the Balance Score Card (BSC) system as the official performance management platform for objectively setting performance targets and appraising staff performance. The department facilitated a number of staff recruitments during the year including senior appointments of the Vice-Chancellor; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (ARE); Registrar (ASA); three Associate Professors; Human Resource Manager; and Quality Assurance Manager. The department also updated some old and produced additional new human resource related policies such as for flexi work; disability; succession plan; employee wellness; reward and recognition; mentorship; gender equality and diversity; academic staff appointment and promotion. A new and cheaper medical service provider was sourced with better services and seamless changeover.
The University made some financial related achievements including external auditing of 2019 accounts; use of ERP system for financial management activities such as billing, payment of creditors and statutory obligations. This injected efficiency in financial management leading to timely collection and better overall financial management within the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic.
New and Continuing Students
We welcome all our new and continuing students to the New Year 2021. You surmounted all the challenges of the year 2020 and have made it to the 2021. Although we still do not know its promises but we are optimistic it will be a better year.
In conclusion, I wish to thank all our stakeholders and business partners including students, staff, suppliers, government agencies, service providers and others for the support they gave the University during the very difficult times occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic in the year 2020. As we usher in the New Year 2021, we are very optimistic that having survived the year 2020, the most difficult times are behind us and that we have emerged a much stronger institution. We plan to build on our 2020 achievements to ensure that MUA continues to enable futures by innovatively impacting progress of its stakeholders through provision of University education in management, leadership, governance and entrepreneurship in the year 2021 and beyond.
I wish all of you a happy new year 2021 full of success and God’s blessings.
Prof. Washington Okeyo, PhD, MBA, MKIM, BSc.