Dr. Judith Nyakundi-Obura

Director of Finance

The new Director of Finance is Dr. Judith Nyakundi-Obura, a member of our community for the last few years. Indeed, her Doctor of Business Administration degree was conferred upon her during the 39th Commencement Ceremony held this August.

And that’s not all; her BSc in Business Administration (Accounting, graduated Cum Laude) in 2008, and a Master of Business Administration (Finance) in 2010 were all granted by USIU-Africa.

Dr. Obura is a Certified Public Accountant (K) and is a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya. Her extensive professional experience includes serving as Divisional Accountant at Capital Group (1999-2000), Forensic Auditor at KPMG Peat Marwick (2001) and in several positions at the Mater Hospital in Nairobi (Senior Financial Accountant, 2001-2005; Management Accountant, 2006-2008; and Financial Accounting Manager, 2008-2015).

In her last position as Finance and Commercial Manager at Business Connexion - Kenya, she was responsible for overall coordination and control of the company’s policies and resources, planning and budgeting functions, assessment and contribution to overall commercial activities of the company, managing the company’s investment portfolio, ensuring organizational compliance with professional and statutory requirements, conducting due diligence in partnership recruitment processes, managing financial and operational risk by establishing and maintaining effective internal control systems, goal setting, and performance appraisal and staff development.

Dr. Nyakundi-Obura has also been an adjunct lecturer at USIU-Africa teaching Cost Accounting, Managerial Accounting and International Managerial Finance courses.

Dr. Obura takes over the Directorship from Chief Accountant Ms. Edith Guchu, who held the position in an acting capacity, and will oversee the Departments of Finance and Procurement.


Professor Wangari Mwai

Associate DVC  - Student Affairs

Professor Wangari Mwai (Professor of Literature) is the new Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge the sub-division of Student Affairs. She is the first substantial holder of the position, which was previously held in an acting capacity by Dr. Josephine Arasa (Associate Professor of Psychology).

She reports directly to the Deputy Vice Chancellor – Academic and Student Affairs Amb. Prof. Ruthie Rono, and will oversee the Departments of Admissions, Students Affairs, Counseling Services, Career Services, and the Office of the Registrar.

Prof. Mwai received her Bachelor of Education and an MA (Education) both from the University of Nairobi, while her Doctor of Philosophy (Literature) degree was granted by Maseno University. She also holds an Executive MBA in Business and Leadership from CBS/SMI based in the Swedish capital - Copenhagen. Her extensive experience in higher education includes serving as Chair of the Department of Languages and Literature at Maseno University for 9 years, and at Kenyatta University as Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science, Director of Kenyatta University’s satellite and offshore campuses, and Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration.

She has also served as Chair of the Association of African Women on Research and Development for 10 years, and as Chair of the Technical Committee for the African Centre for Transformative and Inclusive Leadership, a position she held for 3 years.

A distinguished scholar, Professor Mwai has published six books, numerous research papers in peer reviewed journals and book chapters, and organized and participated in many academic conferences. She has also supervised and mentored dozens of masters and doctoral students, and undertaken several consultancies.

She has received numerous grants for projects such as the establishment of the United Nations Women African Centre for Transformative and Inclusive Leadership and the Young African Leadership Initiative at Kenyatta University. In 2014, Kenya’s President bestowed on her the national honor of the Order of the Grand Warrior.

Professor Angelina Nduku Kioko

Acting Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor Angelina Kioko (Professor of Literature) has accepted to serve as Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in an acting capacity. She joined the then School of Arts and Sciences in 2002 as an Assistant Professor of English and Linguistics, rising to Associate Professor in 2003 and Professor in 2007.

Professor Kioko received her Bachelor of Education (First Class Honors) at the University of Nairobi (Kenyatta University College) in 1985, MA in Linguistics also at the University of Nairobi and PhD in Linguistics at Monash University in Australia.

She has served in various administrative positions at USIU-Africa including Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor for Quality Assurance, Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and currently she is the Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) for the University’s American accrediting body - the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Prior to joining USIU-Africa, she served as Chairperson of the Department of English and Linguistics at Kenyatta University. A renowned scholar, Professor Kioko is the author of more than twenty books including English for Secondary Schools—Form 1 (Oxford University Press: Dar es Salaam, 2014) and New Language Bearings in Africa: A Fresh Quest (Multilingual Matters: Clevedon, England, 2004), numerous articles in refereed international journals and chapters in book collections and more than two dozen conference presentations.

She has also published extensively on quality assurance issues. Professor Kioko has served as an external examiner at nearly a dozen universities and as a training consultant for numerous agencies and institutions.
Two members of the IE Business School at IE University made an introductory talk on data science and big data to journalism and International Relations students, on Thursday, November 2 in the Lillian K. Beam Building’s software lab.

Marcos Ramirez Amoretti (Senior Associate Director - Data Science & Technology at IE University) and Joao Pedro Lopes (Associate Director of International Business Development for Middle East and Africa – IE Business School) introduced the concept of big data and explained its uses by the financial community in Spain.

While big data consists of large data sets that can be analysed using computational algorithm to reveal patterns, trends and associations in different areas, data science is a field comprising scientific systems, processes and techniques used to extract knowledge or insights from data in various forms as either structures or unstructured.

Both speakers dwelt on the prominence received by big data in light of the current data explosion the world over, which has propelled businesses towards data driven decisions. They were able to expound on the types of decisions, businesses can make based on the insights gleaned from the big data visualization of financial transactions across Spain.

Later on, the audience was split into groups and tasked with activities that emphasized problem-solving using data sets and data collection.
The New Economic Venture Accelerator (NEVA) has organized a Design Thinking for Business Innovation training sessions for NEVA members to equip them entrepreneurs with practical design thinking skills.

The training is conducted by Mr. Stanley Gichobi and Mr. Caesar Tuva, both of whom are co-founders of XD academy - an organization focused on training the next generation of social entrepreneurs and product developers by helping them understand the framework, logic and art behind user experience.

Each training session involves an introduction of different design thinking principles, which is followed by group discussions, focused on applying those principles to each group member’s enterprise.

The sessions, began on Thursday, October 5, and will run every Thursday at the Innovation & Incubation Center’s Research Lab. The objective of the training is to equip entrepreneurs with practical design thinking skills, design thinking is human cantered approach used in learning, collaboration and problem solving.

During each training entrepreneurs are taken through different design thinking principles then divided into groups where they work on applying those principles to their business and discuss with each other. Group members are then expected to apply the solutions they discussed, the present the benefits and challenges they faced in the next session.

NEVA is the university’s venture accelerator, which was formed with the purpose of assisting students and alumni who have existing businesses or harboring business ideas, to solve current challenges or develop their ideas to fruition. Entrepreneurs are also provided with a working space at the Innovation and Incubation Center, on the third floor of the Freida Brown Student Center. Here, they can host business meetings as well as connect with other entrepreneurs.
The HeForShe club screened The Mask You Live In on Wednesday, October 11 at the Freida Brown Student Center. The 2015 award-winning documentary film was written, directed, and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, to discuss identity based on gender and in particular, masculinity.

In the documentary, boys and young men struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating the narrow definition of masculinity. Though the film explores what Ms. Newsom perceived to be harmful notions of masculinity in the American culture, “There are many similarities available in our African societies,” noted HeForShe Club Secretary Miss Joy Nyokabi.

According to Ms. Nyokabi, the club’s agenda is to hold discussions around movies and documentaries related to gender and depicting real life situations as experienced by men and women in African society.

The screening was followed by a brief discussion facilitated by Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Ngure Wa Mwachofi and basketball coach Harrison Kaudia, which explored masculinity in Africa in relation to gender roles, careers, sports as well as emotional intelligence.

The audience mainly composed of male students and members of the rugby team, exchanged perspectives in relation to individual experiences connected with the concept of masculinity. Such examples as “Man up! You throw like a girl! Be a man and stop those tears!” were provided as evidence of the increased pressure on boys and young men in our societies, to hide their emotions, “grab a mask” and ultimately distort their true identity.

Initiated by UN Women in September 2014, HeForShe is a 1.5 million-member movement that invites “people around the world to stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality.”
If you have been watching television lately, you have probably seen the latest trend of bearded men or women both locally and internationally.  Many will argue that it enhances the facial features of an individual, but, could this be the reason you are going bald?

According to research done in 1988 by Cabanac, bearded men retained more heat in their beard hence they grew more bald. The results obtained supported the hypothesis that the male baldness is a thermoregulatory compensation for growth of beard in male adults. The research involved both bearded and unbearded men and women whereby the area of the glabrous skin on the forehead, calvaria and that of the skin of lips, cheeks and neck was measured. During light hyperthermia, the evaporation rate in the bald scalp was 2-3 times higher than the hairy scalp. In women and unbearded men, the evaporation rate was equal while for bearded men, it was 40% less on the chin. The research also shows that men with higher beard lines have most receding hairlines.

As there are several factors that may influence male and women pattern baldness such as age, genetics and level of testosterone, the beard may not be solely responsible for baldness, as research is still ongoing. Thus, those growing beards may need to take heed to avoid premature baldness.

Reviewed by Dr. Were L. Munyendo (Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics)
Two weeks ago, we wrote about technical and soft skills and how those can be developed. As a follow-up to that article, we wish to further discuss core competencies that enable graduates to transition successfully into the workplace. In my opinion, these competencies are also key in enabling current employees to thrive.

USIU-Africa, through the Career Services Department, is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) - a community focused on the employment of new college graduates. NACE classifies these type of competencies as Career Readiness , which it defines as the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace

In accordance with its mission, NACE, through extensive research and a task force comprised of representatives from both the higher education and corporate sides, has developed a definition and identified competencies associated with career readiness for the new college graduate. (Details about the research are available here.)

If you’re a current student, check out the following competencies to gauge your career readiness and if you’re a current employee, ask a colleague, or even your supervisor, to rate you on each on a scale of 1-10, with one being the lowest and 10 the highest.

COMPETENCIES:

  1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.
  2. Oral/Written Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.
  3. Teamwork/Collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure, and can negotiate and manage conflict.
  4. Digital Technology: Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.
  5. Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.
  6. Professionalism/Work Ethic: Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.
  7. Career Management: Identify and articulate one’s skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.
  8. Global/Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.
These competencies are a great place to start in self-assessments as they give a clear definition and criteria of what to look out for in each.

If you have identified gaps in your career readiness or level of competency as a current employee, visit Career Services in the Freida Brown Student Center for an in-depth discussion on how to pursue growth in the specific areas. You can also email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any feedback.

Election Peace Photoshoot 19102017 074

Kenyan students pose for a photo as part of a USIU-Africa campaign to encourage Kenyans to maintain peace before and after the repeat presidential election slated for Thursday, October 26. From left: Almasi Mae, Akaash Barot, Simon Mwandoe, Janes Amondi, Meet Pancholi, Yvette Achieng, Ryan Otsimi and Renee Wangwe Photo: Dan Muchai

The university will remain closed on Friday, October 20 to commemorate the Kenyan national holiday – Mashujaa Day. This was announced by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, in an email message to the entire university community, in which he also indicated that the university will close from Tuesday, October 24 to Sunday, October 29. This, he stateD, will afford an opportunity to Kenyan members of the university community, to participate in the repeat Kenyan Presidential Election slated for Thursday, October 26. Similarly, classes that were scheduled from Friday October 20 to Saturday, October 28, are cancelled.

In his message, Prof. Zeleza underlined the values of “peaceful coexistence as well as respect for the rights and property of others in speech and action” that all members of the university community share, adding his observation that these values were already practiced in our learning and working environment.

Since the repeat presidential election was ordered by the Supreme Court of Kenya on September 1, the country has experienced a rapidly deteriorating political environment that has led to calls for boycott and a withdrawal from the elections by the incumbent President’s main rival, Mr. Raila Odinga. Mr. Odinga, a former Prime Minister of Kenya, was the keynote speaker during the 37th Commencement Ceremony in August 2015.

Prof. Zeleza urged students, staff and faculty to “continue to be that shining light of goodwill and tolerance that Kenya needs so desperately at this time”. Drawing inspiration from his experience as a historian, the Vice Chancellor reminded the community of their responsibility to write “a heroic chapter of integrity, leadership and service”, which he noted was “our gift to the future”.

While the university is closed, essential services will still be provided to campus residents. Contacts details for the security team, which remains on standby, are available on our website.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Paul Zeleza, met Executives within the Alumni Association in an informal forum dubbed Affinity Evening held at his residence on September 30, 2017. The executives enjoyed a night of networking as they reminisced their time at USIU-Africa. They also shared their post-graduation experiences as heard from the Vice Chancellor about proposed infrastructural and academic developments at USIU-Africa, as part of the Strategic Plan 2015/16 – 2019/20. Among them, the Vice Chancellor highlighted the proposed School of Communication, Creative and Cinematic Arts that will be house the undergraduate Journalism and graduate Communication Studies programs.

The Affinity Evening is a monthly informal forum where the Vice Chancellor and other members of the Management Board meet and interact with different interest groups within the Association. It was conceived as a platform for at creating mutually beneficial relationships between alumni and their alma mater, creating a platform where alumni can network and rekindle old friendships. Senior university officials also learn from post-graduation alumni experiences as well as how they would like to be engaged by their alma mater. The event is also an avenue where alumni learn about current developments at their alma mater, as well as the role they have to play in moving the university forward.

 The next Affinity Evening slated for early November, will focus on alumni who are senior corporate executives.
Peer Counseling Training (September 28, 2017)

Ms. Noel Khayanje (Senior Counselor) leads a training session for student leaders, peer educators and counselors on Saturday, September 29, in the Freida Brown Student Center. Photo: Antonio Longangi

The Counseling Center in collaboration with the Peer Counselors and Educators Club, organized a Level 1 training session from September 29-30 and a Level 2 training session from October 6-7, in the Freida Brown Student Center.

Both sessions were designed for student peer educators, counselors and leaders to empower them with key information and skills to reach out and counsel their peers, in order to bring about positive behavior change among the USIU-Africa student community.

The Level 1 session focused on imparting basic peer education and counseling skills including group counseling, exploring self-awareness for the peer counselor, self-esteem, values clarification, qualities of an effective peer educator and leadership. It also covered practical counseling sessions at individual and group levels.

The Level 2 course focused on specialist topics like gender issues in peer education and counseling, sexuality, HIV & AIDS and relationships, contraceptives, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV), drug and substance abuse, life skills, psychological first aid and self-care for the peer educator/counselor.

Trainers were drawn from among alumni, Population Services Kenya, Kenyatta National Hospital, Haven of Hope Rehabilitation Center and Counseling Center staff.

Armed with their new-found skills, participants are now expected to form peer groups to discuss and address issues covered in the training sessions, and plan for community peer outreach events and sessions. Such issues include, creation of awareness, offering support, counsel or referral on sexuality, addressing life skills gaps, drug and substance-related issues, among others.

They will also attend follow-up supervisory sessions at personal and group level, with the professional counselors, as they engage with other students.
A research paper by Dr. Kioko Ireri, Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, has been published in the current issue of African Journalism Studies – Africa’s leading journal in the field of journalism and mass communication. The paper – “Job Autonomy: How Kenyan Newspeople Perceive Their Journalistic Latitudes” – examines job autonomy in news selection decision, media freedom, media freedom-job autonomy relationship, and predictors of journalistic autonomy.

Findings show that over half (59%) of respondents believe that there is enough media freedom in Kenya. Similarly, there is a positive correlation between media freedom and journalistic autonomy—a relationship though moderate is statistically significant.

While four in 10 Kenyan journalists have “some freedom” in deciding what to include in news, only 15.5% enjoy “almost complete freedom,” and 31.7% have “a great deal of freedom.” When analyzed by demographics and work-related variables, male journalists reported higher autonomy than their female colleagues. Older and more experienced journalists have more freedoms than those who are younger and limited in work experience. Journalists with advanced education (doctoral and MA degree holders), those employed on full-time basis, and high monthly earners enjoy more job autonomy. Kenyan journalists working for international media organizations reported far higher autonomy than those in the local media. Job satisfaction and job security emerged as the strongest predictors of journalistic autonomy in the Kenyan media.

The study is based on a national representative sample of 504 journalists drawn from 62 media outlets in Kenya. The research paper is one of the ten variables that Dr. Ireri examined in his Indiana University- Bloomington doctoral dissertation – “Constructing A Portrait of Kenyan Journalists In The 21st Century: Demographics, Job Satisfaction, Influences On News Values and Autonomy, And Standards of Journalism Training”. Five other paper papers have been published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Media Ethics, Journalism, Journalism Practice, and Journalism & Mass Communication Educator.