Prof. Olive Mugenda
Founder & Executive Director, Centre or Innovative Leadership and Governance
Bold Idea: Launch a new initiative to support Vice Chancellors of public universities with training, coaching, and a community of practice that strengthens their capacity to lead innovation and reforms.
Path to Metis: Prof. Mugenda is a respected expert in the practice of higher education innovation and reform. She obtained a PhD from Iowa State University and an MBA from Southern Africa Management Institute, in addition to other degrees and a wide range of training programs at institutions such as Oxford University. She joined Kenyatta University (KU) as an assistant lecturer in 1984, and over the next two decades was promoted within the institution to Lecturer, Professor, Dean, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor before being selected to be Vice Chancellor in 2006. She was the first female Vice Chancellor of a public university in East Africa. KU is Kenya’s second-largest university.
Over a decade, she transformed the institution and led innovations that included raising over $95 million to launch the country’s first university hospital, tripling student enrollment, opening 13 satellite campuses, improving the welfare of over 1,000 staff, and launching the Chandaria Business Innovation & Incubation Centre at KU in 2011. She was Chairperson of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and Vice-President of the International Association of Universities. Prof. Mugenda is on the steering committees for the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform, a DfID initiative, and the Young African Leadership Initiative, a USAID program.
She is a widely published researcher, with studies funded by institutions such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. These experiences equipped Prof. Mugenda with expertise in the challenges and opportunities facing leaders within public universities that have deeply entrenched interests and regulations. She is committed to using her knowledge to support the next generation of leaders driving innovation in higher education.
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