ADDRESS TO SPONSORS, STUDENTS AND STAFF ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 2ND SEMESTER 2019/2020 TANGAZA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
It gives me pleasure to address you on this occasion of the official opening of the University’s 2nd semester 2019/2020 academic year. Let me start by thanking God for enabling us to see another year, the year of the Lord 2020. I wish to welcome all staff, returning students and students who have joined Tangaza for the first time this semester. I know many of you have been back at work since the 6 January to prepare for the registration and orientation of students so that we may have a smooth start. I thank you for that.
This also marks as my first official speech as the Vice-Chancellor designate. In the month of December, 2019, I interacted with many of you during the orientation and visits to your offices. I wish to thank you for according me an opportunity to get to know the institution and its people better and to identify priorities for action. I was delighted to meet and get to know some of the finest academics, administrators and support services employees of Tangaza. I wish to use this opportunity to pay tribute to these great colleagues who continue to make the University great.
I wish to specifically thank my predecessor, Br. Tom Kearney for his invaluable service, his dedication and the leadership which he has provided Tangaza during his time as the Principal interim. I wish him well in his future endeavors and I hope to tap into his vast experience.
As a Christian university guided by Catholic Ethos and in line with our vision “Tangaza College aspires to be a community of learning and holistic human formation based on gospel values through academic excellence in a multi-cultural context”, we will work together to make Tangaza an outstanding university and making it known worldwide through:
- Forging strategic partnerships which will promote institutional advancement, enhance the university brand which will advance the international standing of the university, enhance engagement and strategic partnerships for social and economic development.
- Recruiting and supporting students from all backgrounds, offering relevant and effective academic programmes and ensuring continuous curriculum transformation.
- Promoting excellence in research and innovation by strengthening the research outputs.
- Developing human capital and implementing management strategies to attract and retain talent and skills from diverse backgrounds.
- Develop and maintain infrastructure which will enable us to provide a sustainable teaching and learning environment with first-class facilities and infrastructure.
- Ensuring good financial management in all entities.
These can only be achieved if we work together keeping in mind that Unity is strength and unity helps us in enjoying every moment of life. Our real strength is in our willingness to care for and support each other, being caretakers of divine property. Wisdom is to understand this simple universal principle “in giving we receive, by getting things we make a living, by giving we make a life”. The spiritual evolution of a society can be understood when people love people and use things. All too often in this world, people use people and love things. My prayer and wish for Tangaza is that we will work together to make all of us great in our different spheres of influence using what God has given us.
I am aware of the great strides made by Fr. Steven Payne, Fr. Stephen Mbugua and lately by Br. Tom Kearney under the guidance of Fr. Gary Mueller towards attaining the University charter. We will work together to ensure that Tangaza gets the recognition it deserves and by God’s grace and your prayers, I hope this will be my gift to Tangaza.
I am aware that Tangaza has a strategic vision to transform into a private university (Tangaza University – TU) that distinguishes itself in the world of higher education through provision of quality education, research, and community service for social transformation inspired by the gospel values.
Ladies and gentlemen The role of higher education in fostering public good (Gonzalez & Padilla, 2008; Kezar, 2004), and contribution to sustainability (Mcmillin & Dyball, 2009) has gained attention in recent times. This attention has stemmed from a combination of forces, including soaring tuition costs, public distrust, and a lack of congruency among societal expectations and institutional priorities (Wade & Demb, 2009). Indeed universities have been seen by some as ivory towers (Bond & Paterson, 2005) that do not respond to social needs (Bok, 1984; Ensor, 2014) questioning the huge tuition fees and budgetary allocation to higher education. Engagement, or how universities address important social issues while preparing an educated citizenry for active civic, economic and cultural participation has become a widespread concept, phenomenon, and movement (Wade & Demb, 2009). The basic functions of universities including teaching and learning, research and community engagement must now be addressed in a collaborative and effective way.
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are a responsibility of both the faculty and students. Universities through the faculties advance the knowledge and provide general guidance to aid in the process of learning so as to develop experts for solving societal problems. Students explore their academic adventure to quench their thirst for knowledge and also develop the right attitudes and skills. Now more than ever, we are called upon to re-examine this process of teaching and learning. Modern societies are involved in a fierce competition for talent. There are many job seekers yet markets decry scarcity of right talents. Talent needs are ever evolving and what it meant ten years ago is very different from what we have today. The roles, skills, and job required in ten years may be unknown to us today. Regardless of the uncertainty, modern universities are called upon to disseminate knowledge for the future. We must, therefore, re-examine how we teach and how we learn to respond to the future needs. We must not be stuck in the education where students learn to regurgitate what they are taught but focus on promoting creativity.
In addition, we must remember that Tangaza University College espouses the philosophy of Catholic Higher Education which strives for the integral formation in the physical, moral, social, intellectual and cultural dimensions. The formation looks toward the person’s final end, at the same time the common good of the society. Therefore, we must integrate the skills of bringing about social transformation and justice for the poor and oppressed in all our educational process.
Just like teaching and learning, research is a core university business and a key site for engaged scholarship. While teaching and learning involves dissemination of knowledge, research involves development of such knowledge. We at Tangaza must engage in research that is applicable, utilitarian and objective so as to play our role in the society. We must strive to not only produce high quality publications, but also research which is outcome-directed with tangible benefits to communities. These are the measures of high-quality research.
We must also focus on research that responds to the future needs. The 4th Industrial revolution is a reality, driven by advancement in technology, automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Incidentally, it is not just about what innovation is being produced but how we decide to use that technology. We must not be left behind. It is only through intense and relevant research can we rightfully participate in this revolution.
But we must reflect on our past research failures both as a university and a community. We must question why we are being left behind, from google maps that cannot properly pronounce local names, to computer software like Siri that cannot recognize African languages, to neglected diseases, and environmental decay. Besides that, we must respond to the real challenge posed by the 4th industrial revolution and especially the internet of things. The Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are an excellent use of innovation but a potentially disruptive one. The number of open and online courses is growing exponentially across the globe, creating ease of access but at the same time presenting a massive competition that will lead to a “genocide” of academic institutions.
We at Tangaza need to respond swiftly but tactfully. We must continue seeking partnerships with institutions locally and internationally to engage in research in areas that further the mission of transformation.
Community engagement is the “collaboration of institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity”(UNCG Community Engagement, 2011). Reciprocity is the recognition, respect, and valuing of the knowledge, perspective, and resources that each partner contributes to the collaboration. Therefore, while community outreach is (at best) done “for” a community, community engagement is done “with” a community.
The purpose of university-community engagement is to bring together the knowledge and resources of a community and university so as to “enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good”(UNCG Community Engagement, 2011). While community service is a welcome exercise of social responsibility on the part of a university, engagement is a partnership that is more involving. Engagement fosters knowledge-driven collaborations that lead to mutually beneficial outcomes for both the university and community. In many parts of the world, university-community engagement is now acknowledged as a strategic imperative. Indeed, one of the goals of Tangaza is to provide Holistic Social and Ecclesial Transformative Impact. To be an agent of transformation in the society and Church, in the light of the gospel values, networking with other like-minded agents, towards the integrity of creation and quality of human life, by means of research and community service.
This is the Tangaza we want to build. I call upon all of you to join me on this journey of realizing Tangaza’s Strategic Vision.
May you have a blessed and fruitful Semester ahead.
Thank you and God Bless
Prof David Wangombe Ph.D. CPA(K)
Vice-Chancellor Designate, Tangaza University