Dr. Ahmed Kaweesa Ssengendo, the out-going Rector of Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) has revealed the government gave the institution only two months to prepare the curriculum, furnish the University, acquire books and enroll students by December 1, 1987.
“By that time, all we had were buildings of former Nkoma Secondary School which shifted to Mbale Town Center to give room for the University,” he said.
Ssengendo, who was one of the first eight pioneer staff of IUIU, says they did not manage to meet the deadline but worked tirelessly to ensure that they get before the Joint Implementation Committee meeting which had been scheduled to take place on January 31, 1988.
“The University was then permitted to start on February 10, 1988 and we started with 88 students from two facilities and two academic programs; Bachelors’ in Education and bachelors’ Islamic Studies and Arabic Language,” he noted.
Dr. Ssengendo shared this experience while officially handing over the office of “Rector” to his successor Professor Ismail Ssimbwa Gyagenda, the former Vice Rector Academic Affairs (VR-AA) who was elected by the University Council during its 33rd meeting that sat virtually on Tuesday this week.
The Council also elected Dr. Jamil Sserwanga, to replace Prof. Gyagenda as the new Vice Rector Academic Affairs and Al-haji Moses Ali, the First Deputy Prime Minister a new Council Member, replacing the fallen Second Deputy Prime Minister, late Al-hajj Kirunda Kiveijinja, who succumbed to COVI-19 recently.
To replace him, Ssengendo had been appointed as the Assistant Secretary General of Economic Affairs in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, filling the gap that was left by the late Ugandan ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Ahmad Ssenyomo who succumbed to COVID-19 in September last year.
“I am now 62 years old and I have spent the bigger part of my age, serving IUIU. I can’t imagine that I am leaving the place that I call home,” he said
“I promise to always be available when needed in as far as providing guidance to the new leadership,”
Before joining IUIU, Dr. Ssengendo first taught at Makerere University in the department of Botany, before studying his PHD from the University of Kansas.
On his return in 1987, government hand picked him together with eight others to start IUIU from scratch to one of the leading International universities today.
Starting out as a Lecturer at IUIU, Ssengendo rose to University Secretary. In 2001, he was requested to start IUIU’s Kampala Campus. From 2003 to 2004 he served as Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academics. In 2004, at the age of 45, he was appointed Vice Chancellor of IUIU, a position he has held to today.
He has served in various positions within the University starting as University Secretary from 1988-2001, Director. He was then promoted to Vice Rector from 2001-2003 and finally Rector.
He was the first Ugandan to serve as the Rector of Islamic University in Uganda.
Before Dr. Ssengendo, IUIU had had four Rectors who included; the late Al-hajj Abubakar Kakyama Mayanja, who served in acting capacity, Professor S. Huq from Bangladesh, fallen second Deputy Prime Minister Al-hajj Ally Kirunda Kiveijinja, who also served in the acting capacity and Mahdi Adamu from Nigeria.
Under his Leadership, the University has substantively expanded from one to four campuses which include; the main campus in Mbale, Kampala Campus in Kibuli, IUIU Female’s campus in Kabojja and the Arua campus in Northern Uganda.
The University under his leadership has also increased the number of students from 2,682 in 2004 to over 10,000 today coming from 21 countries.
He noted that the University also grew the number of Faculties from two during its start to 7, which offer 87 different academic programs.
“We have graduated over 30,000 students, who among them include Honorable members of Parliament, Ministers, High ranking officers, Doctors, Teachers, journalists, engineers, among others,” he said.
While assuming the office, Prof. Gyagenda thanked Dr. Ssengendo for mentoring him and making him a better leader who is succeeding him.
He also asked IUIU community to always guide him whenever they see him go wrong,
“I promise to cooperate with everyone in the University from the students, staff, support staff and everyone and promise to make a lot of mistakes but always accept corrections from team,” he observed.