Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) recently got its new students’ leaders with His Excellency Joseph Byamugisha and his team replacing president Semitala Hannington and his 27-member cabinet whose term just ended. At the handover ceremony that was presided over by the College Principal Prof. Charles Ibingira and other College Staff, Mr. Semitala said he was happy to pass on the mantle after recording major successes.
The Principal thanked the outgoing leadership for steering the College well in the last academic year, and congratulated the new cabinet led by Joseph Byamugisha whilst challenging them to do even better. He recalled that in his first year in Medical School he was a Committee Member of MUMSA; little did he know that he would one day become the College Principal.
“We are breeding leaders for the future,” said Prof. Ibingira, alluding to the fact that medical doctors and other health professionals have held important positions in government since 1986. Indeed, since president Yoweri Museveni took power, all his vice presidents except the current one, have been medical doctors. Dr. Samson Babi Mululu Kisekka was vice president from 1991 to 1994. He was replaced by Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe who served up to 2003. She was as well succeeded by another medical doctor, Dr. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya who served until 2011. Currently the Prime Minister of Uganda Dr. Ruhakana Ruganda is equally a medical doctor by profession.
“So it will not be something new that many of you will be absorbed into national leadership,” the Principal said. “We are mentoring you to evolve into good leaders that will care for the plight of the fellow doctors and work hard to improve healthcare in our nation.”
Resolve issues through dialogue
The Principal appreciates the culture of dialogue and discussion between the leadership of the students and the College administration. He encouraged Byamugisha and his team to always use dialogue as a means of resolving conflicts.
As part of easing interpersonal communication between the College students and staff, Departments will now be the centres of command whereby academic-related issues shall be handled by the Departmental heads through class representatives. Only problems that fail to be resolved at the Departmental level will be brought to the Principal.
“The new leadership should streamline their activities and update us in advance so that we can see the activities that need our financial support and include them in our budget,” the Principal said. He added that in the coming academic year the College will have some funds and grants set aside to support research activities of students. So he urged students to maximize their intellect (the College admits only the best students in the country) by stimulating research and creating innovation clubs that will make the College the source of transformative initiatives and centre of excellence Africa.
The incoming leadership was further called upon to support the M&E Project that is meant to help improve training at the College. The M&E system will establish lecture attendance patterns for both students and lecturers and the quality of those lectures. “As students I suppose you are interested in learning and getting the best of your lectures, so if you don’t support it [M&E] you will be shooting yourself in the foot,” the Principal said.
Giving back to society
The Principal supposes that most students at the College are not only the brightest in the country, but also come from well-to-do families. So he asked them use that privilege to give back to society by digging into their pockets to help the needy as well as help rehabilitate those struggling with addictions like drug users and alcoholics.
“It’s your responsibility as leaders to hunt for these lost students and help them through student support groups,” the Principal said. “Some students fail to pay tuition yet many of you are from very good families, you have a lot of pocket money; why don’t you help your disadvantaged friends by giving back. A heart that gives is blessed so you must learn to tap into God’s blessings by being big-hearted.”
The new leadership was as well advised to build and espouse the culture of maintaining the College property. It’s a shame that some students pluck some pages from the books in the library; chairs are broken and you find dirty writings on the walls in toilets. Students also fight for space on the College bus and create commotion over petty issues including participating in unnecessary strikes.
“Leadership is a responsibility and as the new leaders of the College you must strive to teach students to do better,” the Principal advised. “Stand up for what you know is right and endeavor to be part of the contribution to the goals of Makerere University; you’re the ones to protect the image of Makerere University and make it number one.”
The Principal also asked the new leadership to introduce extracurricular activities such as indoor games through students and staff can unwind and let off the boredom that accumulates with being so much stuck in academic work.
Focus on the bigger works
The Chief Guest at the hand-over, Prof. Tonny J. Oyana who is the Principal College of Computing and Information Sciences, asked the leaders and the students to strike a balance between the academic goal and the social goal.
Prof. Oyana who during his undergraduate studies at the University of Dar es Salaam was a Minister of Academics said leadership is not born but learned and nurtured. “The nurturing that happens in life happens when you step up for leadership,” he said and congratulated the new team for offering themselves to lead. “Your primary job as a leader is not about you; it’s about making other people successful. If you can transform others through your leadership you are a good leader.”
He asked Byamugisha and his cabinet to balance their leadership, the academic life and the social life in order to be happy. He also urged students not to allow to be “distracted by little things” but to “focus on the bigger works; the bigger things “if they wanted to serve their country and make positive impact.
Leadership tips gleaned from the speeches delivered during the handover
- Don’t accept substandard things
- Make decisions you can live with later in life
- Learn from your mistakes
- Work as a team
- Use your resources appropriately and your time resourcefully
- Employ a consultative approach
- Be strong but humble
- Respect College Administrators in their different capacities
- Communicate; communication is power.
- Help those in need; give back.
- Lead by example; be role models.