Agriculture is my passion

When Dr. Benon Musinguzi left the University service recently, the university appointed Dr Michael Masanza to replace him in acting capacity. Dr Masanza is an educationist as The Standard newspaper’s Eva Kyomugisha writes.

Dr Michael Masanza, the ating DVC academic affairs (Photo by Eva Kyomugisha)

Considering Dr Michael Masanza’s weighty education background, achievements, age and significant position in UCU, one would think meeting him for the first time is an extremely nervous moment. Shockingly his first impression is welcoming. With a pleased, kind and smiley facial expression, you feel relaxed and excited to know more about him. Dr. Masanza is the newly appointed acting deputy Vice-chancellor for academics having been appointed recently.
The Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, said that Dr Masanza is committed to the university and has given his all since he joined UCU.
“He has undertaken readily and zealously whatever task he has been given in UCU. He is a humble man, quite unassuming for his achievements in life thus far,” Senyonyi said.
Dr Masanza is the fourth child of the late Wilson Walyaula and Alice Nambuya Walyauka, the daughter to a chief. He grew up on his father’s farm in Manafwa District, an experience that laid his foundation in the agricultural field.
“My love for agriculture comes from my background. My parents were farmers and often cultivated crops at home. It is from them that I developed a love for agriculture,” Dr Masanza said.
The office of the deputy Vice Chancellor academics requires someone who is highly educated. Dr Masanza started his education journey at Toma-butta Primary School in Manafwa District and later joined Nabumali High School in Mbale District for his O and A-level education. He thereafter pursued a Diploma in Education majoring in Agriculture much as he could also teach Chemistry and Physics.
“Many people do not know this but I am a qualified teacher. I even taught for three years at Bubulo Girls’ High School in Manafwa District,” Dr Masanza said.
After three years of teaching, Dr Masanza went ahead to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at Makerere University where he graduated with a Second-Class Upper and was awarded a scholarship under USAID to do a Master of Crop Science in Agriculture.
“Soon after, I was put under a two months’ probation at the International School of Agriculture and when I passed, I was given a scholarship by the Rockefeller Foundation in the Netherlands to study a PhD in Production Ecology and Resource Conservation,” said Dr Masanza.
He is a renowned agricultural scientist who helped to set up the agricultural program at UCU.
Dr Michael Masanza first came to UCU in 2007 and was employed on part-time basis as a senior researcher in the Department of Research and Postgraduate Studies at UCU.
“I was contacted by the then dean of the Faculty of Research and Postgraduate Studies, Professor Patrick Mangheni. I think I was recommended by someone else who I believe is his wife,” Dr Masanza said.
Dr Masanza adds that he spent one year in this capacity and led in the writing of agricultural programmes for the university.In 2008, Dr Masanza was appointed as lecturer and coordinator of the programme in the university until 2013.
“My job was to recruit and teach about the agriculture programme to the students at the university,” Dr Masanza said.
In 2012, he was nominated as a faculty exchange fellow through the USAID whose objective was to improve collaboration between Uganda and the United States. He also taught at the University of Missouri for four months.
“I was able to develop two courses for UCU during these periods which are: Integrated Pest Management, and Ethics and Professionalism in Scientific Research, that I personally teach to graduate students,” Dr Masanza explained.
On January 1st, 2013, Dr Masanza was appointed the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology of UCU. He replaced Dr Edward Kanyesigye who is currently the Dean UCU School of Medicine.
“During my time in that position I was able to create a new Faculty of Health Sciences,” Dr Masanza explained. “He is a good jolly and friendly person. He is a nice person to work with,” Geoffrey Kawalya, the Cisco lab attendant, said.
“He is an approachable person. He is easy to work with,” said another member of the Faculty of Science and Technology who did not want to be named.
As the new deputy vice chancellor academics, Dr Masanza says he is working hard to make impact even if his time in this office may be temporary.
“I am looking at the academic programmes to see how to improve the community needs,” Dr Masanza said.
He also said that he intends to emphasise modern teaching methods so as to keep up with the changing world. He also intends to introduce more tracks in engineering as well as computing.
Outside of UCU, Dr Masanza has worked as an associate professor of Production Ecology and Resource Conservation from Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. He did research with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture for six years.
He also worked as an assistant lecturer at Makerere University for three years and later worked in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as a senior agricultural inspector for four years.
“I have also worked as a research officer with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO),” Dr Masanza stated.
Dr Masanza is married to Monica Musenero Masanza, a public health specialist who is known for having fought the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. He is also a father of three biological children and many more adopted children living under his roof.
The couple has set up three schools, he says will help the community in which he lives. These schools are St Paul Junior School in Butebo District, St Paul High School still in Butebo District and Budaka Integrated Primary School in Budaka District.
“We have also started the Solomon Institute of Learning and Applied Sciences (SILAS) in Budaka District which is aimed at giving the community skills in agriculture,” Dr Masanza added.

Advice to students
Dr Masanza advises students to be focused on what they want to do and to strive to achieve it. He adds that students should not settle for mediocrity but instead use their brains to the best of their abilities.
“Youth have the brains but they do not care for the quality,” he said.

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