Welcome to the University of Nairobi! Congratulations to all of you for the hard work that propelled you to be admitted into this prestigious University. Your arrival signals the assurance of continuity of the University. You have now become members of UON family and we are happy that you have chosen to join us.I personally joined this University as a student 34 years ago and has had a wonderful experience both as a student and faculty member and I want to give you the comfort that you are at the right place.In two, four, five and some in six years you will be leaving to contribute to a better world with the knowledge skills and experiences you will have gained hear. You will acquire a new status, a member of the convocation of the University of Nairobi. This prestigious status is acquired by only those who remain to the end- who finish the race, who graduate from the University of Nairobi.
The University of Nairobi is the oldest University in Kenya and is the leading University in Eastern and Central Africa. It is ranked among the top ten universities in Africa and among the top 3% bracket of top performing universities in the world. This is due to adherence to its traditions and ethos, and the concentration of talents. Today you join this pool of talents.
The Vice Chancellor’s freshmen address is always a very important ceremony for the University. It is part of the freshmen orientation where new students are welcomed to the University community. It is also a process for initiating the freshmen into our culture.
Why does a University exist? One may ask. A University exists to engage in the inquiry, pursuit and advancement of knowledge for the betterment of communities and the society at large. As George Washington once said “Knowledge is every country the surest basis of public happiness’. We do not exist to issue degrees and certificates but to transform the society through knowledge by people like you that go through the University and thus make the people have hope and become happier.
You are therefore expected to join other members of the University community who include the teaching and non-teaching staff, our partners and your fellow students to a journey of discovery of new frontiers of knowledge that will help the global community to prosper and overcome current and future challenges.
In this journey I implore on you to be ready to Interact and network with people from diverse backgrounds who will provide you with valuable learning experiences that no teacher will ever teach you. You will be learning from the greatest in the field of study and with the best and the brightest around you to challenge your perspectives and curiosity. We have many renowned Professors, some of them we have continued to retain beyond their retirement age as EMERITUS Professors to provide mentorship to the young faculty. Those Professors are treasurers that you will only find here! I encourage particularly the graduate students to take advantage of their presence and make use of them.
Late last year, a new disease, the Corona Virus Disease year 2019 (COVID-19) was identified in China, soon it ballooned into a pandemic that has not been seen for many years. This was very frightening as there was no known cure for the disease neither a vaccine. The world resorted to well-known biosecurity measure of containing an infectious disease- Isolation, quarantine and basic hygiene. UON family given its resilience and innovativeness refused to scatter, determined to ensure continuity of faction adopted technology to carry out its business including teaching and learning. This strategy has worked well for us.
The 2020/2021 academic calendar was protected; and this has made it possible for you to join the university in this year, 2020. I salute all our students and staff for their courage, determination, innovativeness, and for taking the bold step to adopt the new normal. These are the staff who are going to teach you and mentor you- they are full of hope and optimism. This hope and optimism is infectious, and am sure you are going to become like so by the time you become a member of the convocation.
Application of technology in solving problems and in communication is one of the critical skills for the future that every graduate from the University of Nairobi must acquire for work and for personal survival in this digital era. It is therefore extremely critical that you are equipped with either a lap top or a tablet to enable you access online classes and learning resources. You have embarked on lifelong learning journey .
Today marks a very important milestone in the history of the University of Nairobi. It is the first time that the University has conducted end to end academic processes using online platforms. We processed your admissions online, registered you online and now you are going to be taught online for this Semester.
You will obviously have the opportunity to come together and enjoy the bliss of campus life and comradeship when the current covid-19 pandemic is contained. This is going to be sooner.
Learning at the university is different from High school which uses instructional methods as opposed to the discovery method at the University. At the University learning will be centered on investigating the truth about all phenomena in an environment full of freedom. This requires intellectual rigor and personal discipline. Freedom has sometimes proved to be costly for people without personal discipline. I urge you to use your new found freedom and your bubbling energy constructively. Effective time management is one of the critical success factors in life. Do not waste time and energy on issues that are irrelevant to your success as a student.
The University has certainly worked hard to ensure that your academic program is not interrupted. It is our core value and brand promise to take care of the needs of our customers irrespective of the challenges that we encounter. Students are our biggest customers and most of our activities have been aligned to support students’ academic and social life.
The University of Nairobi provides comprehensive and diverse academic programs. We have over 500 academic programs whose course content are reviewed regularly to make them relevant to the market or industry needs. We have embarked on a reform agenda to make our implementation of curricula better. We shall Interrogate the depth of substance coverage in the delivery of curricula, and inculcation of appropriate practical skills as well continue to Integrate industry in the teaching and research at the University. This is intended to prepare you better for the world of work
We are a multi- cultural society with staff and students drawn from all corners of the globe. The many cultures are supposed to promote your understanding and appreciation of diversity. You must display qualities of adaptability to the continuously changing environment, show flexibility and be accommodative of divergent opinions and cultures. Be a global citizen. Many of you will meet their future spouses, their future business partners, future employers and future members of parliament or president here at the University of Nairobi.
Together, we are one university of Nairobi community and forever we shall remain comrades.,
The University is guided by its ethos and traditions and will not condom extremist ideologies, discriminatory tendencies and disruptive behaviors that are not consistent with the philosophy and mission of the University.
Remember that this is a transition stage in your life. We have therefore developed a student progression guideline to help us to monitor and regulate performance to ensure progression of students so that they do not become ‘career students”. You are all expected to sign the students code of conduct to signal your acceptance to comply with the rules and regulations of the University and that of the land.
Our university is situated in the central business district characterized with fast paced and alluring city life. The city life can sometimes be fancy and destructive when your character is weak. As my students, I advise you to be careful and put your safety and the safety of your comrades first.
All the students admitted to this university are top performers and are people with abundant talents. The University offers vast opportunities in curricular and extracurricular programs. The university of Nairobi is a place where people’s dreams are made, peoples careers are nurtured and people’s talents are discovered. The university will proactively take deliberate steps to brand itself and to add value to you. We shall Identify and celebrate your talents and achievements
We have good sporting and recreational facilities where you can retreat to unwind and improve your mental and physical health after fatigue from lectures. Those with sports talent are highly encouraged to join the University teams some of which like Mean Machine Rugby team, the basketball and Hockey teams are playing in the national leagues. The University is not a place for boredom. Enjoy your campus life and be happy.
In case you get the going too tough, we have an elaborate support system provided through the office of the Dean of students.
There are also many scholarship opportunities available for both undergraduate and post graduate students. Most scholarship funds and sponsors require the beneficiaries to poces outstanding academic and moral credentials. We shall continue to share with you the information on scholarships and other opportunities through our website, social media and your personal email accounts.
The University is a research University and a budding innovation hub. Our post graduate students are expected to engage in cutting edge research. Such research should not only contribute to policy improvements but also in the quality of life and quality of services of our people. The University has created an enabling environment for innovations, protection of intellectual property and we are ultimately putting efforts in commercialization of intellectual and research outputs.
This year, the University will be celebrating its 50th anniversary since it was established in 1970. We have a strong legacy which you are called upon to celebrate and carry forward. The University has over 240,000 Alumni who continue to make global and local impacts in many fields
Our Alumni comprise of the majority of industry captains, government officials and leaders in every field. You will have the opportunity to interact and be mentored by them as they quite often come back to their alma mater to relive their past at the University.
My final advice to you is that;
Your time at the University is a noble investment for your future and the future of the Society. I believe that When you finally complete your program in the next 2, 4,5 or 6 years depending on the program, you shall be a transformed person capable of impacting on other people positively through your work, ideas and influence.
Welcome to University of Nairobi and God bless you.
Prof. Stephen Kiama Gitahi, PhD
University of Nairobi