A leadership row is simmering at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), pitting chancellor Geoffrey ole Maloiy against council members led by Prof Paul Kanyari.
At the centre of the tussle is the bid to control the ongoing hiring of officials to replace two top administrators set to retire next month.
Prof Maloiy has asked Education secretary Amina Mohamed not to reappoint Prof Kanyari and the entire council members when their term ends this month, saying they had failed in their responsibilities
He accused the council of conducting a sham recruitment of vice-chancellor to replace Mabel Imbuga who is set to retire in August as well as deputy vice-chancellor in charge of research.
“The recent recruitment process of the JKUAT vice-chancellor was a sham. His (Prof Kanyari’s) aim from the time the post was advertised until interviews were held, his mind frame was to appoint a vice-chancellor from his own community even if he or she was not qualified,” said the chancellor in a leaked confidential letter to Ms Mohamed dated June 28.
“I also do not support the appointment of a chancellor or chairperson to lead a public university which is situated in a county where their community constitutes the majority of the residency.”
In the letter, Prof Maloiy said he could not work with “a weak, tribal –minded individual”.
“Kindly find out why Prof Kanyari’s term as a principal of Embu University college was terminated permanently,” reads the letter.
“In the process of considering renewal of the council, diversity and professionalism should be given the utmost consideration.
“We should avoid appointing junior academics to the boards of universities. Instead, we should have members who can significantly help the institutions by providing directions thus avoiding the occurrence of instances that result in a conflict of interest.”
He said the revised University Act does not allow any holder of university, parastatal or government appointment to chair or be a member of a public university council.
“Prof Kanyari bungled the appointment of the JKUAT deputy vice-chancellor, research, production and extension in May, last year,” said Prof Maloiy.
Yesterday declined to discuss the content of the letter.
However, Prof Kanyari said he was aware of the letter and added that it is the minister who appoints university council members.
“I am not worried about that letter,” he said.