Friday the 24th November, 2023 went into the annals of Karatina University as the University marked two milestones in a single day, within the same event. These were the inauguration of the second Vice Chancellor and the 11th graduation ceremony.

The Beginning of a New Decade

The first phase of the day’s event was marked by the Inauguration of the Second Vice Chancellor, Prof Linus M. Gitonga. The phase was christened, “The Beginning of a New Decade.” The main highlight, the official handing over the Instruments of Authority to the new VC, also marked the beginning of a new era at the University.

The colourful and well-attended Ceremony, which preceded the University’s 11th graduation, took place at the University’s Graduation Square.

The ceremony’s introduction was conducted by the University’s Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic, Research & Students’ Affairs, Prof. Hellen Kamiri who read Prof. Gitonga’s glorious profile. 

Another distinctive highlight of the event was the robing of the VC. He was escorted in style by the Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor, Planning, Finance & Administration, Prof, Richard Kiai and the Director, Post Graduate Studies Prof. Charles C. Ngugi, who also conducted the robing.

Robing of the Vice Chancellor

The VC then received the Instruments of Authority which included the University Charter, Commission for University Education Reports, The University Logo, Seal and Mace from the Council Chairman.

The VC receiving the instruments of Authority

After the robing and handing over of Instruments of Authority, a dedication prayer was said by Bishop William Githinji of Winners Chapel, Karatina.

In his acceptance speech, Prof. Gitonga expressed his gratitude to the University Council for having found him suitable and capable and ultimately appointing him to steer the University into the second decade of its existence. He expressed his commitment to serve with dedication and uphold the values that have made the Institution a centre of academic excellence.

 “I am committed to leading Karatina University with resilience, innovation, and a steadfast dedication to the pursuit of knowledge. Together, we will navigate the changing landscape of academia, embracing new ideas and technologies to enhance the learning experience for our students,” affirmed the Vice Chancellor.

The VC further pledged to work tirelessly to strengthen the academic and research endeavours of the University. He also promised to invest in the professional development of the faculty, foster a culture of dignified engagements, inclusivity and enhance the University’s global standing. The VC called for collaboration within the University community and also in partnerships with external stakeholders.

He thus concluded, “Let us strive for an environment where every member of the University community can reach their full potential.”

 The 11th Graduation Ceremony

After the short inauguration ceremony, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Linus M. Gitonga declared the Assembly as a Congregation of Karatina University 11th Graduation Ceremony.

The VC then introduced the invited guests present who included, the Chief Guest, Dr. Esther Muoria, the Principal Secretary, State Department of TVETs, who represented the Education Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Ezekiel Machogu and the University Council Chairman, Prof. Francis J. Gichaga who also doubled up as the Chancellor.

Others included Vice-chancellors, Amb. Prof. Festus Kaberia (Multimedia), Prof. Peter Muchiri (Dedan Kimathi), Prof. Joyce Agalo (Machakos), Prof. Kamau Ngamau (Cooperative) and Deputy Vice-Chancellors of, National Defence University, Kirinyaga, Tom Mboya, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, South Eastern Kenya University, Tharaka and Embu universities.

Hon. Julius Melly, the Member of Parliament for Tinderet and Chairman of Education Committee at the National Assembly of Kenya represented parents at the high table.

In attendance also were Principal and Deputy Principal, Meru and Nyeri National Polytechnics respectively, Nyeri County Deputy Governor, H.E. Kinariri Warui, first Registrar at Karatina University, Mr. D.N. Njoroge and a host of other invited guests, University staff, students, parents and friends.

In his speech, the VC once again expressed his pleasure and gratitude for being appointed to steer the great University in its second decade and looked forward to working with all to realize the University’s vision.

The VC expressed great confidence in the training the Class of 2023 had received. It has adequately prepared them to respond effectively to the needs of the society and are fit and well positioned for the fast-changing job market, in Kenya and the world at large.

The VC Prof. Linus Gitonga addressing the Congregation

Another notable growth was the admission of 3,320 first year students, the highest number in the University’s history. The VC extolled the benefits of an increase in student population both to the University and the neighbouring community. But he also noted the challenges that come with this milestone.

On the way forward, the VC said, “…the University will continue enhancing its facilities to ensure quality teaching. We have and continue to invest in technology so as to offer more programmes on ODEL. This is in addition to development of physical infrastructure and retooling of academic staff to ensure they have the right skills and mindset.”

Other highlights of the speech included strategies in staff growth, community outreach, university-industry collaboration and environmental conservation.

Another key speaker was Prof. Francis J. Gichaga, Chairman of The University Council. He outlined the progress the institution has made in the past, the laid-out plans of development that are currently work in progress. He expressed gratitude for the support that the government has extended to the University.

He promised the Council’s full commitment to work with the University management and staff to enable the university attain its vision of being a globally competitive centre of excellence in teaching, research, innovation and service.

He also noted that the 11th Congregation had the highest number of graduands being conferred with Doctorate degrees. The Chairman reminded the graduands that the ceremony marked a special turning point in their lives. He urged them to go out there and conquer the world.

The Chief Guest, the Principal Secretary, State Department of TVETs Dr. Esther Muoria while congratulating the graduands, lauded the University on the milestones it has made even in the face of financial challenges occasioned by strained government funding.

The PS noted that University education is a key contributor towards the success of bottom up transformation agenda that is being driven by the Kenyan government. She therefore lauded the University’s efforts in producing competent graduates.

The PS State Department of TVETs, Dr. Esther Muoria addressing the graduands

Dr. Muoria further urged the University to re-orientate its programmes and activities to enable its graduates meet the requirements of the industry.

She promised government support to partner with universities by looking for opportunities for the unemployed youth. She urged all to support the government efforts.

The PS explained that the government is working towards a successful rollout of the new university funding model. The Higher Education Loans Board was already disbursing loans to students to sustain their academic life within their institutions.

She urged the graduands to apply the knowledge acquired in their studies for the betterment of the Nation.

In total, 1,054 undergraduate and post graduate students, with 27 of them being postgraduates (15 PhDs and 12 Masters) were conferred and awarded with degrees and diplomas respectively.

The ceremony was presided over by the University Council Chairman, Prof Francis Gichaga.

Graduands during the 11th Graduation Ceremony