SOROTI – Prof Francis Omaswa was on Thursday installed as the first chancellor of Soroti University.
Soroti University was established by a statutory instrument in 2015 and ascended to height as Uganda s 9th public university. The university has also been fully declared a fully-fledged public university joining the likes of Muni, Gulu, and Busitema.
President Museveni in a speech read by vice president Jessica Alupo, who also doubles as the woman Member of Parliament for Katakwi district congratulated Prof Omaswa for accepting to be the chancellor of Soroti University.
“Today is yet another milestone in our working time together and I have no doubt, he will lead the university to even greater heights.”
He explained that a University is a central agent to national transformation and renewal, has many roles and responsibilities, many partners, and serves many constituencies therefore, it must guide and shape students to be creative and productive for the future of our country.
President Museveni said further that the University has further responsibilities; to be a place that provides opportunities for lifelong learning; not only for graduates but also to those who never had an opportunity to attend an institution of learning.
“The University has the ultimate responsibility of constructively contributing to national policies to address grave national development needs,” he added.
He noted that Prof Omaswa’s assumption of this high and prestigious office at this particular time in our country’s transformation and indeed the transformation of the University is significant.
He said that peace and security ushered in over 35 years ago has seen government commit resources to ensure Ugandans work in a safe environment “and as a result of peace and stability ushered in by the government, institutions including Soroti university have been able to peacefully undertake their activities adding that our development is dependent on skilled labour in leadership positions.”
He pledged commitment to seeing Soroti University continue to prosper as one of the leading higher education institutions in the country and urged academicians and planners of the university to look into human resource gaps in the country and select courses that are useful and attractive in the market and that must be science-based, “this will solve the problem of unemployment in the country and be more relevant to the job market”.
Mr. Museveni urged the University staff to work closely with different government ministries and departments to ensure the programs are relevant and aligned to national priorities and needs, improve on the substance of national policies, and broadly contribute to the national development and realisation of vision 2020.
“And today, we celebrate with the new chancellor the fruits of that individual responsibility well aware that he has a huge task of overseeing the growth and transformation of the University from its infant stages into a more effective functioning institution by broadening access and improving quality of teaching, learning and research in a situation of limited resources,” said Mr. Museveni.
The Vice President Rtd Maj Alupo on her part described Prof Omaswa as a cream the university and people of Teso have got at the helm of the University and that as government they have high hopes in him.
She supported the idea of establishing a referral and teaching hospital at Soroti as requested by Prof Omaswa and urged the University to harness modern communication and information technology for teaching and research.
She revealed that Prof Omaswa is a person with national and global stature whose connections and attributes would help the university to grow from strength to strength.
The state minister for primary education, Dr. Joyce Monica Kaducu who represented the minister of education and sports said as a ministry they are sure Prof Omaswa will add value to Soroti University
She appealed to the University academic staff to avoid infighting and be role models to students and called for teamwork among the academic staff as they teach and supervise students.
Prof Omaswa said the day was the day they have been waiting for as Soroti University and that it was appropriate for it to be there today 12 August.
He applauded the vice President Rtd Maj Alupo for her contrition towards the establishment of Soroti University during her tenure as minister of education and sports.
“Sitting me on a chair like baby bonds very well with the future of this University, I thank the family of Soroti for welcoming me here,” said Prof Omaswa.
He revealed that the university has a strategic plan for 2020/2021-2024/20255 which provides the strategic direction the university is following in its development and that it is in line with the NDP III and the country’s vision 2040.
He added that together with every stakeholder they will achieve the University’s aspirations;
“We are going to lead by providing services to the communities including treating patients. Universities need to be accountable to their communities where they operate and serve,” added Prof Omaswa.
Prof Omaswa alluded to the fact that Uganda has a huge young population adding that there is need to see this resource transformed into a commodity; “Let us invest in our young people and share them with international in a phased way like other countries are doing; Africa needs to embrace this move.”
The University vice-chancellor Prof Robert Odong thanked the government especially president Museveni for establishing Soroti University and entrusting him with leadership.
He revealed that the government has been instrumental since the establishment of the university; “We have benefitted from rural electrification program, piped water, UNRA tarmacked all University roads, computers were provided by the ICT and education ministries, greening of the campus has been done by water and environment Ministry.”
Prof Dr. Omaswa graduated from Makerere university medical school, Kampala, Uganda, and once served as director of health services in the ministry of health.
Dr. Omaswa is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, founding president of the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa, and a senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.