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Masire becomes UB's first 'independent' Chancellor

The University of Botswana (UB) yesterday made history when it inaugurated its first chancellor who is not a sitting president of the country.

Former president Sir Ketumile Masire was welcomed as the Chancellor at an event held at the UB's graduation arena attended by President Ian Khama and his immediate predecessor Festus Mogae.

Speaking at the ceremony, UB Vice Chancellor Bojosi Otlhogile said the act was an indication that UB had come of age. Otlhogile explained that he had appointed a task group in 2004, under the chairmanship of Professor Frank Youngman to review the governance and management structures of the university. The task group recommended that the position of UB Chancellor be divorced from that of the Office of the President, among others.

Otlhogile said the recommendation was accepted by the University Council and that Parliament amended the UB act last year, paving the way for the appointment of a chancellor who was not the incumbent head of state. "In pursuance of the new act, the President appointed Sir Ketumile as Chancellor in September, which appointment we are solemnizing today," he said.

Otlhogile said the university had grown from a small campus of a thousand students in 1982 to a population of over 15, 000 today. UB now boasts nine faculties and schools, as well as new disciplines, programmes and centres.

The Vice Chancellor said UB was entering the second decade of the 21st century determined to grow even further and enhance its image and reputation as a player in higher education.

He revealed that the university council had approved a new strategic plan entitled A Strategy of Excellence." The plan set out strategic priorities to guide the university's future during the NDP 10 and beyond. Otlhogile said the university had identified six areas of priority to address over the next seven years.

These were extending access and participation, providing relevant and high quality programmes, intensifying research performance, strengthening engagement, improving student experience and enhancing human resources.

Masire served as UB Chancellor from 1982 to 1998 when he was the President of Botswana.

(7 August 2009, Mmegi)

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