Members of Senate;

Karatina University faculty,

All Members of Staff,

Students represented by student leaders present,


Guests of the day, First Year 2023/2024 Academic Year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I stand before you today as someone who was once in your shoes – a curious first year student embarking on a journey of university education. Borrowing from my experience, I want to fan the thirst for knowledge within each of you.

May I take this opportunity to welcome you all to this important function. The function is quite unique in the sense that I am addressing a group of New Students, as my First Address to First Years after my appointment as a New Vice Chancellor.  This is a wonderful way to set off my vision to our key client, the student. This is a very good way to start off together. You too are here under a NEW FUNDING MODEL.  This is a mark of new beginnings.

Congratulations to you all for having gotten this opportunity to be part of Karatina University.  Count yourself lucky to be here and we too are happy to have you here. We can assure that you did not make a mistake and four years to come, you will celebrate your choice.

As you begin your journey in Karatina University, I want to invite you to reflect on certain things. While you may be tempted to take this opportunity lightly, I want you to figure out the number of other young men and women your age who did not get the opportunity you got. While 881,416 sat for KCSE in 2022, 173,345 got C+ and above. Out of this number, 130,484 were placed in public universities. Karatina University got 4,750. As at this morning, 3,010 have reported. I can bet that those yet to report are not idling at home. Maybe they have not been able to raise the required resources to report. This goes to show you how lucky you are to be here this morning. How, then, will you utilize this golden opportunity? What will you do to ensure your parents, guardians and others who look upon you do not get disappointed. And more importantly, how will you make use of the time for the benefit of your future?

I invite you to consider the parable of the talents as outlined in Matthew 25:14–30. Each of the servants was entrusted with talents according to their abilities.  Upon return, the master required them to account for what they did with the talents in his absence. While two of the servants had no difficulty presenting their results, one had nothing to show for the time and talent given to him. Holding all factors constant, you will be expected to graduate by 12th November, 2027. Some of you will graduate with a first class degree, others second class upper, others second class lower, others pass and sadly, some might not graduate at all. In which category will you be? I urge you to prudently utilize your abilities and the resources God has entrusted to you and with the desired end in mind.

You can attest that the environment is quite conducive for learning.  We have a beautiful and well maintained compound, good weather for studies, a quite environment away from urban disruptions and relatively pocket friendly place. Food is quite affordable!


The local name given to this area that the University is located is “Mathira ma Githomo” or “the Cradle of Education”.  The people in the region within which the University is located are well known for their great value for education.  My challenge to you is to live the legacy. What will be your place this legacy?

Karatina University:

  • University’s commitment through a faculty with high qualifications and diligence in their commitment to duty,
  • A place to grow and develop talents to very high levels and, therefore, no student should inhibit or hide their talent. It is important that every student develop reasonable and effective social networks,
  • Karatina University shall provide opportunity to develop entrepreneurial capabilities. The University will be a place for the students to horne their capacity to become what they aspire to be,
  • The infrastructure and other facilities are in good condition and well equipped; for example, the University library is subscribed to a wide range of online resources. The standards of any university is measured by the quality of its library among other services.
  • Technology enabled environment with good internet connectivity and every student has an opportunity to access internet from any point in the University. I encourage you to acquire personal computers or smart phones to facilitate access of online academic resources.  This is the age of technology and the University has fully transited to online services.
  • The University values quality and has an established Directorate of Quality Assurance and ISO, and Policies for guidance in every operation. Seek clarifications on what you do not understand and constantly interrogate yourself about your purpose of joining the University. Remember, your first priority should be your academic performance.


The maxim of EXCELLENCE in all you do holds true in the University as elsewhere. While in primary as well as high school, I believe the question of what you wished to become was severally posed to you. Some of you aspired to be doctors, others lawyers and such like careers. Now that you have finally been admitted to whichever course, the question is still relevant. Where do you see yourself five, ten or even twenty years from now? Do you see yourself pursuing a Masters degree? Do you see yourself pursuing a PhD? Or will you be content with the first degree? Do you see yourself inventing something that would be of benefit to this country? Supposing you were not invited to the programme you desired, how do you make the best of the situation? Remember that God who is all knowing has a plan for you. You must be a willing co-creator with Him. The Swahili say “mtaka cha mvunguni sharti ainame”.

University life differs significantly from the other two levels of learning. Besides the unprecedented freedom, the University presents opportunities to develop your capabilities in preparation for future and advanced responsibilities. You will be exposed to hands-on learning opportunities such as internships, fieldwork, and volunteer activities that mimic the real world. As you do so, remember that a university is not simply a place to fill students with knowledge. Rather, learning takes on a life of its own. You must, therefore, take advantage of the wide range of resources both in academics, the arts, and sports to learn. Furthermore, by applying the skillsets you gain through interacting with your uniquely diverse peers and mentors, your student life will be fruitful.

CHALLENGE THE TRUTH. WHAT IS TRUTH? I encourage use of cognitive skills to critique and logically synthesize any information received before taking any action by asking what you do not understand and constantly interrogating yourself about the purpose of joining the University. Think about why universities have been set up the way they are, no more uniforms, bells, dormitories, and constant monitoring of every movement a student makes. This mode of operation is meant to prepare you for the future working environment. You need to picture yourself working. What will it entail? It may help to use Karatina University as your sample. Learn about its strategy, its


governance and administrative structures, its offices, its policies, its scheme of service and its operational procedures. And as you pursue these studies, aspire to go international. Train for the world, not for Karatina University, not for your County of origin, not just for Kenya or East Africa. Train for the world market.

You have been oriented across various University units, please take advantage of all the opportunities available. Do not limit yourself to the classroom alone. Karatina University is a hub of opportunities. Please seize them, for example, by joining clubs, engage in research, volunteer, or start that project you have always dreamed of. This is the time to explore your passions and discover your purpose.

My advice to you:

  • Utilize well the four years at the University and be cautioned against the danger of making the period longer, that would be expensive and would attract lost opportunities,
  • Uphold discipline and do not get derailed from your studies by unhealthy relationships, alcoholism, drug abuse among other vices. Your parents and/or guardians have made sacrifices, reciprocate by committing fully to your studies.
  • After four years you will once again be gathered as same group, either here or elsewhere for your graduation. Add value to your degree. Identify and form relationships for self-development. Education opens the mind to think outside the ‘box’, if any. As early as possible, ‘one can create jobs for oneself and even for others. There are many ways of improving quality of your degree; these include engaging in extra curricula activities or even seeking elective post in the Student Governing Council.
  • A community such as this University cannot be without challenges. We have had very responsible students’ leaders all through. We will continue supporting and developing positive engagement with student leadership. It is a known fact that university student leaders have turned out to be great leaders after university. Make the most of this opportunity. Where there is dialogue, there will be a solution.

Finally, I call upon every one of you to embrace responsibility and exploit individual potential, focus on your core business, which is academics; manage your resources very well and dialogue in case of any challenges.

And remember, it is not about the destination; it is about the journey. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and learn from your failures, for they are stepping stones to your ultimate goals.

I conclude with one of my favorite verses in the Bible:

Prov. 22:29 Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.


God bless you all and bless Karatina University.

Thank you.

Prof. Linus Muthuri Gitonga,

Vice Chancellor,

Karatina University,

Friday, 22nd September 2023