Dr. Odubekun in as USIU-Africa VC, Ensign exits on medical grounds 


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The council of United States International University Africa (USIU) has appointed Dr. Lola Odubekun to serve as the institution’s interim Vice Chancellor after Margee Ensign stepped down barely one year after she took charge.

Ensign was appointed USIU-Africa’s VC with effect from September 1, 2022, and in a statement on Monday, the private liberal arts college said Prof Ensign resigned due to health-related issues tied to Nairobi’s altitude.

“Prof Ensign has been faced with personal medical challenges related to the altitude in Nairobi, and her doctors have advised her that she cannot live and work here,” the university council chairperson Kris Senanu said.

Odubekin who also doubles as a member of the USIU-Africa University Council will succeed his predecessor Ensign effective from September 1, 2023. 

Senanu thanked Ensign for her remarkable achievements which have seen the institution grow to one of the notable tertiary institutions in the country.

“She demonstrated unwavering commitment, passion, and vision, leaving a lasting impression on our institution,” he said.

Among the notable achievements of the outgoing VC include increase in enrollment of students, leadership in coordinating Open Day initiatives, school visits, international recruitment activities and additional investments in marketing.

She also reinvigorated the 2022-2026 Strategic plan which is tailored to address the most pressing global and national challenges, as well as disruptions in higher education as well as advocating for additional scholarships under the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, as well as for students with disabilities and the e-learning initiative.

The International Politics and Economics PhD holder from the University of Maryland was previously the President of the American University of Nigeria (AUN), where she had served since 2010.

USIU-Africa has seen the leadership of three VCs within the past three years.

Prof Ensign last year took over from Prof Freida Brown, who was recalled from retirement in August 2021 following the exit of Prof Paul Tiyambe Zeleza after a five-year stint.

Prof Brown, a former vice-chancellor at the institution acted as interim VC for nine months as the university searched for a substantive replacement.

Prof Zeleza’s sudden exit was amid conflict with lecturers over salary cuts and a union over plans to lay off non-teaching staff.

United States International University Africa, also known as USIU Africa, is a private university in Kenya, the largest economy in the East African Community. The university is accredited by the Commission for Higher Education in Kenya and by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in the United States.

By Vostine Ratemo

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