BY CALEB TUGUMETWINAMATSIKO
The uniqueness of Uganda Christian University (UCU) is exhibited in various ways and the vice chancellor’s visits to all departments, both academic and administrative, is one of those.
Having completed my undergraduate studies without interacting with my faculty dean, leave alone the vice chancellor, it was inconceivable to me that the vice chancellor would be interested in visiting all the departments in the university, amidst a characteristically busy schedule.
It was during my postgraduate training that I occasionally saw my vice chancellor, partly because even though I was a student, I was on her staff rota. As for the chancellors at both institutions, I only saw them at graduation ceremonies.
With such a background, I appreciate the arrangements for the vice chancellor’s periodic visits to individual units, as well as the chancellor’s pastoral visits.
Understandably, this can be attributed to the size of the university, level of development, the firmness of the structures, effective delegation, among others. Whatever the reasons, I believe it is important for the students and staff to regularly engage with the university’s top administrators for a meaningful conversation.
The vice chancellor uses these visits to remind individuals of the vision, mission and core values of the university, as well as give clarity on the resolutions and statutes of council, management and university cabinet. He uses this as an opportunity to re-affirm the commitment of administration concerning the welfare of the workforce.
By no means should this be confused with micro-management. Not all faculty deans or directors sit on the university council. Therefore, it is important that the vice chancellor offers information and clarity on governance decisions, especially those that directly affect students and staff.
Such meetings also presents to the vice chancellor with an exceptional opportunity to personally and directly interact with the lower cadre in a stress free setting, without intimidation.
As a means of gathering feedback, he is able to tell whether management decisions trickle down and he gauges their interpretation and implementation, without necessarily acting as a watchdog or interfering with delegated authority.
After the visits, he shares the facts on the ground with the management team, as need be. Views generated from this forum inform policy review, budget formulation, and enhance timely decisions for the good of our community.
The visits are scheduled in conjunction with the departments, depending on need and the time of the previous visit. Busy units like the catering section and medical centre are always scheduled during semester breaks with intent not to disrupt continuance of service.
Additionally, any department can request the vice chancellor to pay them a visit if there is urgent need.
It is imperative, therefore, that all individuals take the visits seriously and turn up when they are scheduled, to receive information, and give feedbacks.
The writer is the Vice Chancellor’s executive assistant