Dr. Mary Wambui Ndungu is the new Dean for the Faculty of Science. Announcing the results of an election hotly contested by four candidates April 16, 2009, Dr. Sulemain Okech the Academic Registrar declared Dr. Ndungu, the new Faculty of Science boss following her sounding victory that was supported by 42 percent of a total of 116 votes cast. Dr. Ndungu, 47, and a 2003 JKUAT PhD degree holder in natural products Chemistry is a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry. The scholar who had also served as the department’s chairlady for two years until 2006 was closely followed in the tight race by Prof. David Mulati an idealist who was endorsed by 34 percent of the voters.
The gravity of the race for the political office in the Faculty of Science has remained attractive and this has often been demonstrated by the enthusiasm of faculty members to vote sometimes regardless of their whereabouts. It is not rare for faculty members on study leave particularly in our local institutions to break off from their studies to ensure they elected their dean. Indeed, Agritech news came in contact with faculty members either on sabbatical or engaged in other university activities in far flung areas from campus. Covert investigations by Agritech news revealed all of them had rushed to campus to vote.
In her inaugural address to faculty, Dr. Ndungu pledged her management would largely be guided by the spirit of consultation that she said would seek the participation of the entire staff in setting of the faculty’s agenda. She informed her colleagues she would move fast to reactivate faculty and departmental committees that had remained moribund promising that such committees were to be charged with the formulation of their respective agenda that would be owned by faculty.
Dr. Ndungu urged the faculty to prepare to shoulder more responsibilities in view of the university’s new policy of decentralization expected to result in the establishment of cost centers where key financial and administrative decisions would be made. She told staffers to be ready to take full advantage of the proposed centers through the development of new market driven programs, enhanced student populations and retentions vowing that she would aggressively guide all monies arising from faculty income generating programs.
The new dean believed to have found favor with many of her colleagues due to her unprecedented and steadfast token support that she gave to the University Academic Staff Union (UASU) two years ago, that saw the country’s dons in public universities down their tools leading to vexed industrial standoff that she supported by remaining a monthly paid up UASU member. As chairlady of the Department of Chemistry, she had been deemed to be part of the university management prohibited from union activities. However, Dr. Ndungu flatly rejected the overture citing morality which forever bound her to the teaching fraternity of JKUAT. Unaware then, and two years down the line, the moral gesture has come in handy and paid her some dividends. It now remains to be seen whether she would be guided by similar radical stance to drive her agenda. Yet, Dr. Ndungu could achieve much for the faculty if she could be able to transform and utilize in equal measure her gleaming reputation for glamour and style in her new status.
As if it is the seat of Midas, the Faculty of Science arguably one of the largest has shaped the lives of most of the former deans now part of ‘who is who’ in society such as Prof. Mabel Imbuga JKUAT Vice chancellor, Prof. Festus Kaberia, Kenya’s envoy in India, Prof. Romanus Odhiambo, JKUAT Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) and Professor Joseph Chacha, former principal Kisii University campus among others.
Prof. Grace Njoroge, Director of Alternative Degree Program and a botanist together with Dr. Jackson Kwanza, a mathematician and former Director, Continued Education Program were also in the race bagging 14 and 10 percent of the total vote cast.