Who are these people? … A rundown on Unam VC candidates

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Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK – This afternoon four candidates are expected to provide – in front of a curious and likely interrogative mob of public members – their vision for the University of Namibia (Unam) for which they aspire to become vice-chancellor.

They are associate professors Elizabeth Amukugo, Frednard Gideon and Kenneth Matengu, all currently employed at Unam, and Professor Lucius Botes, a South African.
Vice-chancellor is the chief academic and administrative officer of Unam – essentially its CEO – and reports to the university council.

The incumbent’s core responsibilities are to provide executive leadership and implement the policies of the university council and to ensure the university’s resources are used in ways that most effectively advance the approved mission and strategic plan of Unam.

It is common practice that all candidates listed for executive positions of the University of Namibia make public presentations on their vision for leading the institution.

This is in addition to undergoing a psychometric assessment and a formal interview, Edwin Tjiramba, the director for communications and marketing at Unam explained in a statement yesterday.

Commenting on the public assessment of the shortlisted candidates, Graham Hopwood, the executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), yesterday told New Era this is good practice for any institution commanding a strong public interest in it being governed responsibly.

“This is particularly the case with bodies that are primarily funded by the taxpayer. I hope Unam will allow audience members to question the prospective vice-chancellors after their presentations,” said Hopwood.
Hopwood added that such practices will encourage the public to become more engaged with the governance of key public institutions.

“We saw from the ECN interviews earlier this week that there is sometimes little public interest in attending such processes. At the same time, the ECN and even some of the candidates seemed uncomfortable with having to deal with public questioning.”

“It would be good if such processes could become entrenched, so that other bodies that require a leadership that needs to have the trust of the public follow similar procedures,” said Hopwood.
He cited the positions of Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Ombudsman, and Director-General of the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) as some of the public institutions where candidates should undergo public scrutiny.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Amukugo
Amukugo, 63, is currently an Associate Professor with the Unam Educational Foundations and Management in the Faculty of Education.

She was born on 1 August 1954 in Oshana Region.
She earned a Master of Science in Sociology & Education, Masters in Social Science from Lund University in Sweden, and further possesses a philosophy degree in education.

She was a research fellow with Lund University in Sweden from 1987 to 1990, a lecturer with the former Academy for Tertiary Education, now the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), around 1990 and 1991.
She then served as chief for multilateral co-operation with the Namibian National Planning Commission from 1991 to 1996. An academic by profession, Amukugo was a senior lecturer in philosophy of education from 1996 to 2000 with Unam, and member of the senate and head of the Department of Educational Foundations and Management with Unam from 1997 to 2000.

Amukugo was a member of the Namibian National Assembly from 2000 to 2005, on a ticket of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) and served on the Standing Committee on Governmental Affairs, Standing Committee on the Reports of the Ombudsman, also on the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Equality and Gender as well as senior representative of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Namibia Branch, member of the CoD national executive committee and of the National Council. Last year she authored the book Democracy and Education in Namibia and Beyond. She’s also the author of Education and Politics in Namibia: Past Trends and Future Prospects.
Professor Lucius Botes

Botes, 56, is a Professor of Development Studies and is currently the Director of the Centre of Development Support and Programme Director of the Postgraduate Programme in Development Studies, which he initiated some five years ago in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Botes was born on 27 September 1961 in Tsumeb, Namibia. He is a South African national.
He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 1982, Bachelor of Theology (cum laude) in 1985, Bachelor of Arts Honours in Sociology (cum laude in research), and Master of Arts (cum laude) (1987) in Sociology and a PhD in Sociology (1999), all at the University of the Free State, South Africa.

He joined the Department of Sociology as a lecturer in 1990. In 1996, he was promoted to senior lecturer and in October 2001 he was appointed the first ever professor in development studies at the University of the Free State. Botes authored and co-authored approximately 80 publications, including two books, 20 accredited articles in scientific journals, 60 commissioned research reports and one monogram.

His research and teaching activities focus on the areas of development studies, participatory development, socio-economic research, housing research, local economic development, municipal cost recovery, survey research and methodologies (including questionnaire design), and alternative development approaches.
To date, he has read 30 papers nationally and internationally, and has done postgraduate supervision for three PhD and 25 masters’ students, all with development-related research topics.

He participated in study visits to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. He was also visiting researcher at the Institute for Social Studies, The Hague. He acted as development and research consultant to various international and national organisations, departments and companies.

He was elected Associate Academic Fellow of the World Economic Forum from 2001 to 2006. He was also appointed council member and member of the Executive of the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) by the Premier of the Free State.

Associate Professor Frednard Gideon

Gideon became Unam Pro-Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in January, 2017. The 42-year-old is from Oshikuku in the Omusati Region. He was the first Namibian to serve as dean of the Faculty of Science at Unam.
He is a Unam graduate and associate professor in the Department of Mathematics. He obtained his PhD in applied Mathematics (Banking and Finance – Risk Management and Basel II) from North-West University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Science and Mathematics from Rhodes University. Gideon has authored several monographies, articles in journals as well as conference papers.

Associate Professor Kenneth Matengu

Matengu is the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Development at Unam. The 40-year-old was born in the Zambezi Region where he attended primary and secondary education.
He holds a PhD in Human Geography with a specialisation in Innovation, Technology and Development. He has a Licentiate of Social Sciences in Diffusion of Innovation, a Master of Social Science in Natural Resources and Tourism Development, and a Diploma in Environmental Law-Making and Diplomacy from the University of Eastern Finland.

Matengu also has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Geography from Unam.
He first joined Unam as a student research intern in 1997 in the Multidisciplinary Research Centre. His research interests include innovation and technology adoption factors, research and ethics, access with equity in higher education, rural water supply and community-based management models.

To date, he has published more than 50 peer reviewed articles, books and book chapters, as well as international conference papers. In addition, Matengu has led numerous commissioned and consultancy research projects and managed research grants from government, European Union-ACP and donor countries.
Before his current position, Matengu served as a Research Professor and Director of External and International Relations at the University of Namibia and was responsible for building partnerships, negotiating agreements and promoting Unam’s international visibility.
P
rof. Matengu also served as Head of the Social Sciences Division (MRC), Deputy University Research Coordinator, Deputy Director and Director of the Multidisciplinary Research Centre, at the University of Namibia, respectively. Previously, he also worked as a researcher at the University of Eastern Finland, Graduate School of Geography (2003 – 2006).

Additionally, he has also served as a technical advisor on the 3rd National Development Plan (NDP3), responsible for Key Result Area 7, which is Knowledge-Based Economy. He is a member of several national and international scientific committees.

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