Malawi’s Mzuzu University (Mzuni) has hired a new vice-chancellor and filled some of the crucial managerial positions students demanded to ensure smooth running of the institution.
In June last year, the students petitioned President Joyce Banda, who is Chancellor of the university, to ensure that the positions are filled to check malpractices at the financially troubled institution.
Mzuni has since appointed Dr Robert Ridley, who previously served as pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Malawi (Unima), as vice-chancellor (VC) and Vyson Jedegwa as registrar.
Mzuni Council chairperson Professor Brown Chimphamba confirmed the appointments and described them as the council’s achievements.
The position of director of finance and investments has also been filled, but the new recruit is yet to report for duties.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Ridley said his appointment and those of others will help take Mzuni to greater heights.
He said: “My vision is one that is already the vision of Mzuni’s draft strategic plan, namely: To be a premier provider of tertiary education, adaptive research and targeted outreach in Malawi and the world.”
Ridley said he was aware of the challenges Mzuni is going through, observing that the problems will require collective effort to be addressed.
Mzuni is heavily affected by limited financial resources and infrastructure. The problems are worsened by low government subvention. The institution now runs on a K1.5 billion subvention against a management proposed budget of K2.5 billion.
Ridley, who has replaced the late Professor Landson Mhango who succumbed to cancer on September 7 2011, also said he will ensure discipline at the institution.
He saluted associate professor Orton Msiska, who was acting VC since Mhango’s illness and death, for ensuring discipline at the institution. Msiska was deputy vice-chancellor.
During the interview, Msiska and Jedegwa agreed with Ridley that Mzuni needs support from different partners to address its challenges. They said government alone cannot address the problems.
Ridley has worked for various big institutions and has over 100 scientific publications and several patents to his name. He becomes the third Mzuni vice-chancellor after Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Professor Peter Mwanza and Mhango.
The changes have also seen former senior assistant registrar (academic) Yonamu Ngwira swapping posts with James Kwilimbe who was senior assistant registrar (administration).
The position of vice-chancellor is still being challenged in court after Mzuni Council allegedly failed to recognise Professor Golden Msilimba as a perfect candidate.