Former Kenyatta University vice-chancellor Olive Mugenda has been offered the position of chief executive in the institution’s healthcare arm at a pay similar to what she earned as VC.
The university’s council made the decision to offer Prof Mugenda the job on March 2, two weeks before she retired, citing the need for continuity in the nascent healthcare arm dubbed Kenyatta University Healthcare Systems Ltd (KUHCS).
Prof Mugenda, who retired on March 18, led KU for a decade when she instituted many healthcare projects, including a referral hospital, a mortuary and a children’s hospital.
“The appointment is for a term of three years with effect from May 11, 2016, which is not renewable,” Ratemo Michieka, the university’s chairman of Council wrote in the May 4 offer letter.
“The appointment is made to facilitate the smooth transition of the project. In making this decision, the Council is cognisant of the need for continuity and smooth institutionalisation of the KUHCS Limited at the nascent stage.”
Prof Michieka said the position was not filled competitively, adding that the Council felt it was prudent she oversee the project which she started.
“Referral hospitals are run by boards and the board (of the KU hospital) has not been selected. Until the board, which will run the hospital, comes in, we have to have someone like a caretaker,” he said on Friday.
The Council gave Prof Mugenda up to June 11 to indicate if she would accept the offer. Prof Michieka said he has been away from the university and was unaware if Prof Mugenda had responded to the offer. Prof Mugenda did not respond to our questions on the issue.
The healthcare arm includes the 600-bed teaching and referral hospital which will also double as a learning facility for KU medical students, a 300-bed children’s hospital and a mortuary.
Construction of the referral hospital, which mirrors the Moi Teaching and Referral facility, is ongoing. The Sh10 billion project is funded through a 2011 concessional loan from Chinese Export Import (Exim) Bank.
It was expected to be completed by October last year, but the deadline passed.
A brief on the hospital indicates that it will offer specialised research facilities, training as well as health care in oncology and cancer management, geriatrics, neuroscience, gender violence and recovery centre, accident and emergency among others.
The Sh300 million children hospital is yet to commence while the mortuary is operational.
The job offer at terms similar to those she enjoyed as VC highlights the cost of retaining Prof Mugenda to steer the multi-billion projects.
Prof Mugenda at one time had a bumpy ride as head of the institution, including a lawsuit by activist Okiya Omtatah filed last year seeking to remove her from office on grounds that her term had ended.
She is credited for improving the university’s infrastructure and growing the size of the institution to rival the University of Nairobi.
KU’s student population currently stands at 71,000, from 15,000 a decade ago while its lecturers have doubled to 1,500.