Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am still struggling to recover from the shock that comes with this kind of news. I am also greatly humbled by the amount of goodwill manifested by members of the community in the face of this news, and I am praying to Allah to make me fully deserving of the acclamation I have received from the community. I have read through all the messages on the UMBS, as well those that came privately to my mail, and I am highly appreciative and thankful for all of them. The one from my daughter Khadija Nakinsige was particularly touching. I have also received plenty of calls as well as SMS messages. And of course there is the special message from AbdulHakim Sekandi and the very kind attention from the MUMSA walk-in.
Many of the messages and telephone calls have also been accompanied with questions seeking clarification on one issue or another relating to the Professorship. I am not able to answer all of them, but there is one question I considered important to answer ahead of the MUMSA walk-in of Sunday.
- · What exactly does it require for one to be promoted to the rank of Professor?
In the Makerere system, which we inherit from Britain, there six academic ranks. They are:
- Teaching Assistant
- Assistant Lecturer
- Senior Lecturer
- Associate Professor
(The Americans have three only – Professor, Associate Professor and Assistant Professor.)
When one graduates with an upper second or first class degree, one is appointed as Teaching Assistant on two year contract, renewable once. Within these four years, one is expected to work for and acquire a masters degree. If one shows progress towards completing the MA but fails to complete within the three years, the contract may be renewed a second and final time. If one fails to get the MA in the six years, one is considered unsuitable for a University teaching career.
When one gets the MA, one is appointed as Assistant lecturer. This is a regular but transitional appointment. It is understood that one will use it to work for a PhD. When one gets the PhD, one can then be promoted/appointed to the rank of Lecturer. One can also come from outside with their PhD and apply directly for appointment as Lecturer.
Generally, people who teach at University are called Lecturers; but formally, this is only the third rank in the hierarchy. This information is important because some people are very sensitive and they get offended when called lecturers if they are above it, just like some Professors get offended when they are called Dr. (I promise I will not be one of these).
From Lecturer onwards, progress is by publication. In the Makerere system, one needs three peer-reviewed publications to become a Senior Lecturer, with evidence of supervising at least one MA student and attendance at international conferences. It is at this stage that we begin to distinguish between an academic and a scholar. The academic makes sharp on the spot analysis of research material, and successfully works for qualifications like MA and PhD. The scholar makes original contributions to knowledge through digesting available scholarship and adding his/her own. Acquiring a PhD is the top academic achievement; and publishing in order to progress from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer is the beginning of scholarship. To move from Senior Lecturer to Associate Professor, Makerere requires one to submit three new publications, which will go for international vetting. One should also show evidence of supervising to completion at least three graduate students (since previous promotion) and attendance at international conferences. And to be promoted to Professor, one should submit at least five new publications, which will go for international vetting. One must also show evidence of supervising to completion at least five graduate students, attendance at international conferences as well as membership of professional association in your field of expertise. The time taken in this process depends on individuals’ commitment.
It should also be added that the publications we are talking about are those in one’s official area of specialization. In my case, while Makerere takes note of my publications in the area of Islam, the ones that are considered for promotional purposes are those in literature.
When publications are sent for international vetting, the period that follows can be very agonising. Makerere usually sends it papers to the UK, US, Canada, Kenya, Nigeria, South Arica and India, The applicant has no way of knowing the country or the vetters themselves. Some vetters take their time. Papers have been known to take up to five years or more. I was lucky that in my case it took one year. Also, report can return a negative assessment. This is one of the greatest humiliations in a University teacher’s career. It is the one thing that makes colleagues fear to submit their papers.
The retirement age for University staff is 60, but Associate Professor get an extension of five years, and Professors 10 years.
The other relevant information that I want to provide is that when becomes a senior lecturer, one qualifies to head an academic unit like a Department or School (or faculty in the old arrangement). To become a Principal of a college, or Vice Chancellor/Deputy Vice Chancellor, one should be Associate Professor or Professor.
Someone has asked the question of how many Professors Makerere promoted since it was established, and how many of these are Muslim. I do not have this information at hand, but it is public information that can be sought from the human resource office. I suggest that Yahya Seremba or Shaban Kalema walk to the University Human Resource office and acquire this information and share it with us.
I hope you find this information useful, and I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday.
Many salaams and thanks for all your goodwill.
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