By Ernest Mwanzi

The much awaited Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS), which comes with a new performance management system was launched by the Human Resources department on Monday, January 21, 2019. With this system, USIU-Africa’s five year strategic plan which provides for a new performance management framework that promotes service excellence in all areas of operation and supports each employee in effective delivery of their respective role is now a reality.

The new HRMIS will ensure consistency in supervision and build coaching capability among employees. On the other hand, line managers will gain the capability to view performance across the board and encourage on-going feedback.

The system is designed to offer real time excellent and efficient data management, employee appointment details, tracking of employee performance, standardized procedures and improved workflow processes, thereby enhancing engagement between employees and their supervisors. Some of the salient features that comes with new system is access to monthly pay related records like pay slips and KRA Income Tax reports by a click of a button. This HRMIS is expected to offer a one stop shop for access of data and general information that supervisors and management would require for making future plans and other holistic business decisions.

Swimming Pool Launch Jan 201924012019 222
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs, Amb. Prof. Ruthie Rono together with Student Council representatives and the swimming team cut the ribbon. PHOTO: LONGANGI

By Taigu Muchiri

The new swimming complex was unveiled on Thursday, 24 January 2019 by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs, Amb. Prof. Ruthie Rono. The contractor handed over the complex in a well-attended event by staff, faculty and students. The swimming team, famously christened as Dolphins welcomed this much awaited unveiling. The USIU-Africa Dolphins have enjoyed a winning streak in 2018 and participated in several competitions. They participated in the recently concluded East Africa University Games held on December 17- 21, 2018 in Dodoma, Tanzania and emerged the best team by scooping six medals- three silver and three bronze.

The swimming pool is 25 M length x 17M Wide, eight lane deck type Swimming pool. The plant room fitted with circulation pumps, eco salt chlorinators, balancing tank and sand filters, 15 Sunbeds, one life savers chair, eight No lifesaving rings, emergency telephone and first aid kit, two stainless steel for the 2M deep end and 1 M shallow end, ladies and gents changing rooms complete with three showers, four toilets, paraplegic facility and janitors room.

Staff End Year Party 2019 18122018 678
The Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Zeleza making his remarks during the launch of the Scorecard By Taigu Muchiri Photo: ERNEST MWANZI

By Taigu Muchiri

USIU-Africa launched the University Scorecard on Tuesday, 18 December, 2018 during the end of year staff party which was attended by employees, members of the Board of Trustees and the visiting team from University of Dhaka. The Vice Chancellor thanked the staff for working tirelessly in 2018 to ensure that they delivered in various departments as stipulated in the strategic plan. He said that the Scorecard gives the University a snapshot of performance on key institutional indicators and it allows the University to compare the overall performance of the past academic year and compare it with two years before. He also added that the Scorecard gives and sets performance targets for next academic year.

“As far as we know, this is the first Scorecard produced by a university in this country. It is part of our continuous efforts to be trendsetters in higher education in the country and region,” said the Vice Chancellor. He further added that collecting and analyzing accurate data is imperative for informed decision-making and tracking institutional performance over time. The creation of the Scorecard is a critical part of this effort as it contains several key indicators over a three-year period. The Scorecard shows student indicators (enrolment, student ratios, retention rate, graduation rate), academic indicators (new degree programs and research productivity), financial indicators (grants and contracts, fundraising and financial growth), employee indicators (recruitment and retention), institutional progress indicators (implementation of strategic plan and establishment of partnerships), and institutional reputation indicators (brand equity, partnerships, and institutional ranking—the latter is under investigation and planning).

Eldoret Film Awards
The Director Collins Akunga of 72Hrs film won the best Cinematography award during the Eldoret Film Festival. PHOTO: ANTONIO LONGANGI

By Rachael Diang’a and Kelvin Osoo

USIU-Africa film, Mad Love has won another award at the recently concluded Eldoret Film Festival. In the best Cinematography film category, USIU–Africa managed to beat the competitors and take the award home. Cinematography is one of the cardinal elements that make up a film and the cinematographer for this film is a freshman, Film Production Major, Collins Akunga.

The film, Mad Love had previously floored thirteen other film schools in Kenya to take home the Best Students’ short Film Award at the 72Hrs Film Series 2018, where it impressed a jurists comprising of renowned film makers from around the globe. The Eldoret Film festival was inaugurated in Kenya in 2018 with the aim of developing film making in the country and organizing film workshops and seminars for filmmakers, mobile screenings of Kenyan films and a film competition that culminated in an awards ceremony on December 7, 2018. The festival organized by Moi University had the theme “Kenyan Films, Kenyan Audiences”.

Next Gen Workshop
Ambassador Macharia Maina, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with Ambassador Professor Ruthie Rono, Deputy Vice Chancellor - Academic and Student Affairs at USIU-Africa take a group photo with workshop participants. PHOTO: ANTONIO LONGANGI

By Prof. Kennedy Mkutu

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in partnership with USIU-Africa held a workshop to engage, exchange ideas and network with colleagues in Kenya working on peace building and development on Monday, January 7, 2019. Two of SSRC’s Africa-related programs, the African Peace building Network (APN) and Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa (Next Gen), also held workshops and was attended by recipients of their grant and fellowship awards from across Africa.

The Next Gen workshop provided a forum for thirty fellows who are at various stages of doctoral degrees—developing their research design, undertaking research, or writing their doctoral theses—to think more deeply about their dissertation research, develop connections, share experiences and insights with colleagues, and draw upon the vast experience of distinguished facilitators and mentors to advance their doctoral research and progress towards completing their dissertations.

The APN workshop focused on the writing and dissemination of research findings by 2018 grant recipients after six months of APN-supported field-based research projects. It combined lectures, working group sessions, and one-on-one dialogues with mentors, all of whom are well-published experts in the field of peace building. The fifteen APN grantees will be able to engage with each other’s research, network, receive constructive feedback on their draft manuscripts based on their APN-supported research, share their research findings, and learn strategies on disseminating the results of their research projects.

Columbia Roundtable discussion
Stakeholders in Higher Education during the roundtable discussion on the role of higher education in the economic transformation of the region. PHOTO COURTESY

By Lilian Njeri and Taigu Muchiri

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Paul Zeleza and the President of Columbia University Prof. Lee Bollinger held a discussion on the role of higher education in the economic transformation of the region on January 10, 2019 in Nairobi. The meeting discussed the challenges of youth bulge, corruption and governance and effects of climate change. Making his contribution to the discussion, Prof Zeleza talked about the raising concerns of the youth bulge and the fact that governments in Africa needed to pay attention to this potential crisis.

 Prof. Lee Bollinger mentioned that institutions of higher learning should foster sustainable partnerships that will enhance the quality of education globally. By bringing stakeholders in higher education together, the President of Columbia wanted to hear views from higher education experts in Kenya about the challenges facing the sector.

He lauded USIU-Africa for introducing solutions that are addressing the problem by entering into gainful partnerships that increase the quality of education offered at the university. The two renowned professors agreed that to further enhance their programs, more effort needs to be put into developing programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The roundtable gave an opportunity for stakeholders in Kenya and globally to reflect on the issues facing higher education and find sustainable solutions to solve this problems. 

University of Dhaka visit
University of Dhaka faculty members take a picture with the Chief Manager, Partnerships and External Relations, Lilian Njeri at USIU-Africa. PHOTO: COURTESY
By Lilian Njeri and Taigu Muchiri

The Chandaria School of Business hosted a team of nine professors from the University of Dhaka on December 18, 2018. The group was invited to discuss the changing trends in Higher Education that will strengthen institutions of higher learning. This will be achieved through strategic partnerships between the two universities. This South-South partnership will focus on student and staff exchange, publication of articles and holding a joint conference.

The University of Dhaka will send 20 Tourism and Hospitality students for industry attachment to USIU-Africa for one month within the first quarter of 2019. Four faculty members will accompany the 20 students from Tourism and Hospitality program. Once the students begin their industrial attachment, USIU-Africa will begin to sensitize students on the exchange program so they can also take advantage of the industrial attachment.

Volunteers 1
Student volunteers take a photo with their coordinator Ms. Christine Kamala. PHOTO COURTESY

By Christine Kamala

The fundraising department received an enthusiastic group of thirty volunteers who are determined to bring out the best in USIU-Africa and will manage media relations, event planning, and research in addition to representing USIU- Africa as brand ambassadors. The department coordinates the university’s fundraising initiatives, and expands non-tuition revenue streams for the university.

Ranging from freshmen to seniors, each volunteer has taken up different duties to assist the office in attaining its yearly goals, by dedicating their time to research, coordinate and market various fundraising initiatives. The new team was briefed by the coordinator, Ms. Christine Kamala and discussed 2019 projections, expectations and timelines. This team is envisioned to grow over the course of the semester and students are encouraged to join the program.

The program has numerous benefits which include learning from a wide pool of professionals, interacting with fellow scholars, and gives the volunteers an opportunity to participate in various awards. These awards are given in recognition of the services that the students offer. In addition, the office issues certificates of participation as a way of appreciating the volunteers. The fundraising office says that the placement is very specific to the students in such a way that they have an opportunity to interact in a more practical way with the major they are currently studying.

By Diana Meso & Dr. Naumih Noah

The Assistant Professor of Analytical/Bioanalytical Chemistry, Dr. Naumih Noah from the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has published a book chapter in the Green Synthesis, Characterization and Application of Nanoparticles book published in the Elsevier publications in November last year.

The chapter titled “Green Synthesis; Characterization and Application of Silver and Gold Nanoparticles” focuses on the use of microorganisms and plant extracts in the synthesis of silver and gold nanoparticles.

Silver and gold nanoparticles have exceptional optical, electrical and thermal properties with profound role in high sensitivity biomolecular detection which makes them eligible to be applied in medicine, drug delivery and water sanitation among others.

The chapter explains how through the application of green chemistry principles in green nanotechnology there has been development of clean technologies which diminish the potential environmental and human health risks associated with the production of nanotechnology products encouraging the replacement of prevailing products with new Nano-products that are more environmentally friendly.

It further recommends that Kenya, being an agricultural country should take advantage of green nanotechnology and exploit the agricultural waste it produces to synthesize nanoparticles rather than using the chemical and physical methods to ensure that environmentally friendly nano-products are produced.

Hague Visit 1
Dr. Simeon Sungi, Chair, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, School of Humanities and Social Sciences signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Center for International Criminal Justice (CICJ). PHOTO: COURTESY

By Dr. Simeon Sungi

Every fall semester the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice offers a course in International Criminal law and Procedure (CJS 4136). This course provides criminal justice students with both theoretical and practical knowledge relating issues pertaining the international criminal justice system. Students enrolled for this course are required to participate in an academic field trip to The Hague, The Netherlands to learn about the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), other international criminal tribunals and international law enforcement agencies. In fall 2018, 35 students and their instructor, Dr. Simeon Sungi had an opportunity to meet the President of the ICC – Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. The students also visited the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya and learned the work of the Embassy and other potential career opportunities.

During this academic field trip, USIU-Africa’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) Center for International Criminal Justice (CICJ). The MoU focuses on research and faculty exchange programs and the students witnessed this game changing moment.

Students who are criminal justice majors, minors and those whose majors are in International Relations are eligible to register for CJS 4136. This course will be offered again in fall 2019 semester.