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Meet Dr. Steven Nyanzi: The Mak Graduation Guru



Assoc. Prof. Steven Allan Nyanzi is the reigning Chairperson of the Makerere University Ceremonies Committee, a position he has held for the last 5 years. Dr. Nyanzi took over from the former Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Prof. Tickodri Togboa. He holds a First Class Doctor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Karlsruhe (Germany), a Master of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Nairobi and a Bachelor of Science degree with a Concurrent Diploma in Education from Makerere University. Below he shares his experience and thoughts of the Makerere University Graduation Ceremony with Marion Alina.

The Chairperson

As Chairperson of Ceremonies Committee, Dr. Nyanzi works with a committed team of about 20 Members of the Committee. In planning each graduation, more members are co-opted including the College Communication Officers, Public Relations Office, Vice Chancellor’s Office and Staff from other units. “I was a College representative to Senate but Prof. Baryamureeba, the then Acting Vice Chancellor believed that I could Chair the Ceremonies Committee. My name was proposed and I was unanimously elected by Senate,” says the Senator.

Changes in Graduation at Mak

With more students graduating each year, Dr. Nyanzi reveals that the next graduation ceremony will be organized and conducted by the Colleges but in liaison with the Ceremonies Committee. The College-based Graduation ceremonies will still be presided over by the Chancellor, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera. “A recent sitting of Senate approved that graduation ceremonies be moved to Colleges to cut costs. Each graduation costs us between 500m- I billion shillings. The College-based graduation ceremony will require less personnel and will be easier to manage with smaller numbers of graduating students. We think it might also be less costly, especially if some Colleges combine their graduation ceremonies. The College Administration will fully exercise its autonomy on this issue and also identify a convenient place within the University to conduct its graduation ceremony. We welcome further proposals on this shift,” he explains.

Dr. Steven NyanziThe experience

The Makerere University Graduation ceremony is a big national event, with between 13,000 – 14,000 students graduating. Each graduand is allowed to invite a maximum of two people as witnesses of this special day. By implication, each graduation ceremony sits over 35,000 people spread throughout the graduation duration. Giant screens, a powerful public address system, huge tents, entertainment, high-level security deployment and refreshments are some of the items that heavily draw on the budget. “I used to think Graduation is a simple event but I have come to learn that there are a number of people who work so hard to make it a success. These include the unsung heroes in the Registrar’s Department who compile names and proof read the draft graduation booklet, the University printery which edits the graduation booklet, the security team and other categories of people,” he adds. In some cases, the graduation has not gone smoothly, necessitating printing of addendum lists of graduating students. Dr. Nyanzi says this delay starts from the Departments that are supposed to submit marks on time, and spills over to all the other processes. He nonetheless admits that some Departments have timely submissions, but the process cannot be complete until all submissions have been made.

Dr. Nyanzi is grateful that after the 64th Graduation ceremony, January 2014, the Vice Chancellor Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu hosted a thank-you dinner at his residence and invited most of the people who made this graduation a success. “This was the first recognition of its kind and we hope the practice is maintained. The 64th Graduation was indeed unique because for the first time, we had more female students, 50.3%  graduating, compared to the 49.7% male students. It is said that once you educate a girl child you prepare the nation for better times. I am glad we are having more female graduates. It is also at this graduation that the Vice Chancellor insisted that the ceremony be held in four days as opposed to the usual 5 days, to cut costs. Indeed we saved some money. He had also proposed that we hold the 65th graduation in 2 days but this became impossible, so we will have it spread over three days. Prof. Ddumba-Ssentamu will leave behind a legacy of cutting costs, so that the money is diverted to other wanting areas. He is a true economist and we appreciate this,” he says.

Makerere University has also witnessed an increase in the number of students graduating with Masters and doctorate (PhD) degrees. Dr. Nyanzi is bothered that most of the research work of this category of graduates is not funded by government. “During graduation you hear funders from Sweden, Norway, Germany, South Africa and the like, a sign that they have confidence in what we do. But you hardly hear of funding from Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education or other Government entities and yet there are important areas for us as a nation that Government can choose to fund. We need people in Government to realize that there is value in ‘growing your own timber,’ if I am to borrow the words of Prof. Mamdani,” he says emphatically. “I am also pleasantly surprised by the increasing number of people who graduate in the distance education mode. I know that State Minister for Mineral Development Hon. Peter Lokeris, the first lady Hon. Janet Museveni and other important personalities have benefitted from this arrangement and I sincerely appreciate the efforts of our colleagues in Distance Education,” he adds.

Employment for GraduatesDr Steven Nyanzi and Ms Marion Alina at the 64th Graduation Ceremony.

With Makerere University sending over 13,000 trained graduates each year to the already strained job market, the scare of insufficient jobs continues to worry many. “We need to think of how to skill students from an early age and make the curricula more practical to Uganda’s needs, lest we risk having a mass of disgruntled youth. It is up to Government to agree that the curricula is not serving the purpose and change it as soon as yesterday, right from Kindergarten,” Dr. Nyanzi reasons.

Honorary Doctorates

Makerere University also awards Honorary doctorates to outstanding members of society. The names of Such individuals are suggested by a College or School and forwarded to Senate for approval. “An Honorary doctorate is usually awarded to someone whose work is defendable and self explanatory as is the case with H.E. Mwai Kibaki the former President of Kenya and H.E. Yoweri Museveni the President of Uganda. Senators take time to debate the choices before the award is given,” he explains. Dr. Nyanzi believes that the awards also need to target other categories of people who have delivered exceptional services. “For example Dr. Mathew Lukwiya who lost his life saving ebola patients could be awarded an honorary doctorate posthumously. Fortunately, Senate has set up a special Committee to identify people who should be recognized. There are a number of women fighters like Rhoda Kalema who have fought for the rights of the girl child. The School of Women and Gender Studies or the Directorate of Gender Mainstreaming can propose such names with ample justification.”

Moving on

The Chemist is now thinking of retiring from the responsibility of Chairperson Ceremonies Committee and focusing on mentoring students and his research. “I am looking at how to purify water for the benefit of people with low incomes, especially in the remote settings. I also have interest in projects on cancer research, alternative energy sources like biofuels, and environmental conservation,” he says with a sparkle in the eye.

Dr. Steven Allan Nyanzi is grateful to all categories of Staff for the team work that has seen Makerere University successfully conduct graduation ceremonies. He remains optimistic that this high level team work will be maintained as Makerere University continues to scale the heights.

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Launch of Mak-RIF Round 4 Awards & PhD Call for Proposals



Mak-RIF 4 Awards and PhD Call For Proposals, 29th September 2022, 9:00 to 10:00 AM EAT.

Makerere University received funding from the Government of the Republic of Uganda, earmarked to support high impact Research and Innovations. This unique initiative arose after engagements between the top University Management and the Government of Uganda. This fund illustrates the increasing importance that the Government attaches to Research and Innovation as a driver of development and transformation. The objective of the fund is to increase the local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Uganda’s development agenda. 

In the Financial years 2019/2020, 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Mak-RIF has funded implementation of over 750 multidisciplinary research and innovations within the various Colleges, while engaging multiple stakeholders within and outside Makerere University. The Grants Management Committee (GMC) has finalized the award process for the Mak-RIF round 4 call for funding for this Financial Year 2022/2023.

The Grants Management Committee (GMC) hereby invites you to the Launch of the Mak-RIF Round 4 awards and PhD Call for Proposals scheduled to take place tomorrow Thursday 29th September 2022 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. EAT. 

Please use the following details to join the launch.

Register in advance for this meeting: 
Meeting ID: 884 5662 9992
Password: 292624

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Notice: Makerere Disability Scheme 2022/23 Medical Review Exercise



One of the PWD graduands at the 69th Graduation during the Session held on 17th January 2019.

The Academic Registrar, Makerere University invites persons with disability who applied for admission to public universities under the disability entry scheme for 2022/2023 Academic Year to appear for medical/review exercise at Makerere Unive, Senate Building, Level Two (2) in the Telepresence Centre.

NOTE: Only those who have the minimum entry requirements of at least two principal passes at A’ Level or its equivalent and at least five (5) passes at O’ Level or its equivalent will be interviewed.

 Only candidates who sat ‘a’ level in 2020, 2019 and 2018 are eligible for admission.

THE EXERCISE WILL BE CONDUCTED ON 3rd, 4th and 5th October, 2022 respectively from 9.00 A.M – 1.00 P.M each day.


(i) If you fail to appear on any of the given days above, there will be no other chance for you.

(ii) Applicants with Government Scholarship for the previous years are not eligible for admission



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Uganda’s policymakers implored to address forest loss, plastic & water pollution



Left to Right: Prof. Gunnar Köhlin, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Amb. Maria Håkansson, Commissioner Julius Mafumbo and Prof. Edward Bbaale posing for a group photo before the opening ceremony on 22nd September 2022: Photo by EfD-Mak Centre.

The Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe on Thursday 22nd September, 2022 participated in the opening of the EfD Annual meeting hosted by Makerere University at Speke Resort Munyonyo where he appealed to government to implement the ban on kaveera and address other environmental issues.

The opening ceremony moderated by the EfD Global Hub Manager Gunnar Köhlin and was graced by Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment represented by the Commissioner for Water, Mr. Julius Mafumbo and the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Maria Håkansson.

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