Makerere woos 300,000 alumni in fundraiser to restore Ivory Tower

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The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe on Thursday 1st October, 2020 unveiled the official platforms through which financial contributions to the restoration of the Makerere University Main Building may be sent.

The ceremony held in the Central Teaching Facility 2 (CTF 2) Auditorium was attended by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge Academic Affairs (DVCAA)-Dr. Umar Kakumba, Dean of Students-Mr. Cyriaco Kabagambe and covered by a number of media houses.

Prof. Nawangwe shared that as the University awaits the report on the cause of the fire by the Intra-Agency Committee it was prudent to put in place platforms through which stakeholders may contribute to the restoration of the iconic Main Building.

“The biggest messages of sympathy and concern came from our alumni. We have an estimated 300,000 living alumni with as many as 40,000 in the United States and Canada and the majority residing here in Uganda. Apart from the institutions we have official collaborations with, we also have friends of Makerere who are organized into clubs all over the world. All these alumni and friends would like to see their icon restored to its previous condition.”

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Delving into a brief history of the Main Building, the Vice Chancellor shared that the Duke of Gloucester laid the foundation stone for the iconic structure on 3rd November 1938 and it was completed in 1941 under the leadership of Mr. George C. Turner, Principal, Makerere College (1939-46).

Most of the funds for the Main Building’s construction were drawn from an endowment capital set up by the Uganda’s Colonial Government, with additional contributions from the British, Tanganyika and Kenya Governments.

The Regional Governments of Busoga, Buganda, Ankole, Kigezi, Bugisu and Teso also made financial contributions to the construction of the Main and other Buildings on campus.

He added that the Main Building’s top floor was originally a large open space, initially used as a school by the children of British expatriates until the end of the World War II.

The space then housed the School of Law when it was founded as a Department under the Faculty of Social Sciences in 1968.

“Later on in the 1970s a decision was taken to partition the top floor into office space.”

After this brief narrative the Vice Chancellor unveiled the official fundraising platforms through which contributions may be sent.

These include;

Stanbic Bank Account: 9030017778608 (USD)
Stanbic Bank Account: 9030017778535 (UGX)
MTN MoMo Pay Merchant Code: 542803

“The very first person to send money to my Mobile Money account was a Member of Staff from the School of Law; Dr. Busingye Kabumba, who said ‘we must rebuild our icon’. It is the first sum of money that has been deposited on this fundraising account,” remarked the Vice Chancellor.

Prof. Nawangwe acknowledged the pledge of US$ 1million from the Mastercard Foundation as well as support from Stanbic Bank in the form of 32 desktop computers, 12 laptops and the accompanying furniture.

He also acknowledged a pledge from the University of Bergen to support business continuity.

The Vice Chancellor concluded his address with an appeal to all stakeholders particularly the alumni to support efforts to restore the iconic Main Building in the shortest time possible, preferably before the celebrations to mark 100 years of existence in 2022.

The DVCAA then outlined the University’s business continuity strategies both during and following the easing of the lockdown.

He noted that aspects such as research had to continue despite the lockdown albeit remotely.

As a result, a number of findings had been made during the period, some of which contributed to the fight against COVID-19.

“We also continued with remote supervision of dissertations and theses as well as examination for graduate students, with as some defending their Masters and PhDs online during the lockdown,” said Dr. Kakumba.

On the upcoming resumption of the academic calendar, he stated that final year students from the College of Health Sciences will report first on Saturday 3rd October 2020, subject to observation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the prevention of COVID-19 put in place by the Ministry of Health (MoH). “There are about 518 final year students in this college and arrangements have been made to ensure that they conduct their lectures and clinical visits starting on Monday 5th October.”

The announcement of the lockdown in March came at a time when ten of the seventeen weeks of the second semester had been covered.

Final year students for the rest of the colleges will return on Saturday 17th October 2020, while continuing students will resume teaching and learning based on the Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL) model on Monday 5th October 2020 and conclude on 20th December 2020.

“We have created flexibility for the continuing students such that the ten weeks between resumption and closure will be ample to complete the syllabus, revise and sit for exams. Examinations will be done both online and physically on Campus in line with the SOPs” Dr. Kakumba further explained.

The Dean of Students while spelling out the accommodation arrangements for on-campus residents said that five halls with a capacity of approximately 2,300 beds had been earmarked to house the students.

These he said had been chosen for both security and logistical reasons such as preparation of meals.

The earmarked halls include; Africa, Mary Stuart, Nkrumah, Nsibirwa and University Hall with capacities to house 380, 560, 465, 454 and 434 students respectively.

However, in line with the MoH SOPs, the students will not be accommodated according to the halls’ total capacities.

As such, Africa and Mary Stuart will only accommodate 169 and 223 ladies respectively, while Nkrumah, Nsibirwa and University Hall will house only 300, 246 and 243 gentlemen respectively.

In terms of allocation, residents of Mitchell will move to University Hall and those of Livingstone will move to Nkrumah while Lumumba residents will move to Nsibirwa.

One half the ladies from CCE will move to Africa while the other half will move to Mary Stuart Hall.

Room allocation will be on a first come, first served basis, with special consideration only for student leaders.

Whereas the Wardens are working hard to ensure that hand sanitizers at are placed at entry points along with numerous handwashing facilities within the halls, Mr. Kabagambe appealed to members of the press to help spread the message to students to ensure that they each report with personal sanitization materials.

He also appealed to the students to vigilantly guard against the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding unnecessary congregation and movements.

Regarding the Guild Elections, the Dean of Students informed the audience that a committee appointed to look into the matter had produced a preliminary report on how to transform the electoral process from a physical to an electronic system.

“Now that the students are coming back, we shall work with the Electoral Commission and the Student Leaders to have an agreed position on how we shall move forward.”

Article by Public Relations Office

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