Though it has always been assumed graduations guarantee an increase in student enrollment in higher institutions of learning, in actual fact, this is not always the case.
Livingstone International University, the youngest University in Uganda will hold her first pioneer graduation on July 17, 2015 in Mbale. While the University looks forward to the graduation day, the enrollment of new students for both May and August intakes is in high gear already. The Vice chancellor Roger Fletcher is optimistic that graduation could influence enrollment of students though it is not an assurance.
Deborah Nansanga had an exclusive interview with the Acting Vice Chancellor on the forthcoming graduation of the pioneer LIU students slated for 17th July 2015.
DN: What is your name?
RF: My name is Roger Allen Fletcher.
DN: How long have you been in office?
RF: Two years as acting vice-Chancellor but five years with LIU and that is since June 2010.
DN: How has it been like to be the head of a university?
RF: Wow! It has been quite hard and challenging but the Lord has seen me through and besides, he has called us all to serve regardless of the circumstances.
DN: We have held a number of graduations in LIU. Haven’t we?
RF: (laughs out loud)…No, this is going to be the first of its kind at LIU.
DN: Now going back to the main topic of the graduation.
RF: Main? Yes what about it.
DN: When is the graduation?
RF: 17th of July this very year.
DN: Where will it take place?
RF: First we have the commissioning service, then the march to Mbale Resort Hotel for the Graduation service with the awarding of certificates, then a meal at the hotel for the special guest with the reception following at the Campus.
DN: What has been the most challenging factor in organizing a graduation?
RF: Well, finding funds, and as I have already said this is going to be the first of its kind in LIU, but the challenge is knowing who to invite and not to invite. I have noticed that if you don’t invite big people on such events like politicians, especially here in Uganda, things are not assumed to be as good. In addition, we do not want to turn it into a campaign rally.
DN: Do you know if there will be any cases of some students not graduating as expected?
RF: Yes, I think so. I have been informed about students who have retakes or those who are doing them right now. Therefore, instead of 29 students, 27 students should be sure of graduating. The others have to wait until their grades become complete.
DN: Do you think that that the graduation will increase the number of student’s enrollment into the university?
RF: Yes most definitely, that is the hope, but I cannot guarantee that. In addition, if the reports we got from our places of internship are not lies, then we stand high chances of having a high number of students enrolling come the next intakes. (May and August 2015).
DN: Should we expect surprise guests like the President?
RF: Yes, but that is still tricky. We are trying to get in touch with the President, or the Vice President. However, if that fails, then we will get in touch with the Secretary of State. In addition, we are targeting the First Lady. Therefore, our expectations of the day are great.
DN: As you have said, you did not start with graduating classes. However, you have spent some quality amount of time with them. What will you miss most about the graduating students?
RF: I will miss everything. However, the exciting part was teaching them. I taught them Psychology and Survey of The Old Testament. That was so much fun.
DN: Do you think you have given them enough skills and information to compete with the rest of the world out there?
RF: We have given them enough, to the best of our abilities. So yes, we have given them, not only skills but also what is expected of an undergraduate degree.
DN: Any chances of retaining some students especially those with a first class degree?
RF: Yes but I cannot guarantee that because of minimal requirements to lecture here. However, we could. The only problem is that our aim is to send them out to change the Nations of Africa.
DN: I guess you will say more on that day, but any last words of encouragement to the outgoing graduates the world should know about?
RF: Yes of course. It is as if I am seeing my children graduate, and the whole world is watching. Primarily, finish strong, the next thing is to represent Christ well and not to forget LivingStone.
DN: What do you want them to remember or take with them as they go out into the field from LIU?
RF: God has given them talents and abilities to use for his kingdom wherever they go. They should use them profitably to the Glory of His Name, as it is important in the field.