The University of Botswana (UB) witnessed history repeating itself on the 6th of August 2009 when the former president of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire, was inaugurated as the third chancellor of the University.
Masire was appointed as Chancellor of UB by the state president Ian Khama in September last year over-riding protocol, which initially required that the head of state be Chancellor of the university.
Masire was the first chancellor of UB during his tenure as state president from 1982-1998.
Speaking at the occasion, the vice chancellor of UB, Professor Bojosi Otlhogile, said, “Today we are literally living through history in the making.” Otlhogile, however, also added that the occasion was “nonetheless historic” in that Masire was the first Chancellor of the university who is not a sitting president, adding that he sat up a task group in 2004, which reviewed the governance and management structures of the university.
“The task group, among others, recommended that the position of chancellor be ‘divorced’ from the first office of the land – the presidency of the Republic.”
He said that the recommendation was amended by Parliament last year.
“In pursuance of the new Act, the president appointed Sir Ketumile as Chancellor in September 2008. Today we are solemnizing the appointment.”
The chairman of the university council, Elijah Legwaila, praised Masire as an important assert to the nation of Botswana, referring to him as a man of many achievements. He referred to Masire’s appointment as Chancellor as “a fitting tribute to a man who has done so much for his country and this university.”
Giving his acceptance speech, Masire said that though UB is a young institution, it also has great ambitions and aspirations. He said that the university should create new learning communities through space, making connectivity key to individual development and academic access.
“The rapid change in new technologies and strategic developments has revolutionized education as we have known it. A new breed of learners has emerged, learners who want to access all the information they need from anywhere, at any time and on any subject.”
He said that the model in which learners spent considerable time in front of a lecturer is fast disappearing.
Masire further made an appeal to government to invest more on policies that will enable learners more access to connectivity. He said that the proliferation and extension of hot zones and wi-fis alone is not enough.
“What is required is a commitment to lowering the cost of access to connectivity, for the populace and in particular access by tertiary institutions. It is those nations who have invested in connectivity for the education sector who have taken stronger leaps in economic development.”
Masire also said that UB operates in an area of constant change, particularly in the area of scientific development and communication technology, pointing out that UB must be ready to adapt if it is to survive.
He pledged himself to be part of the journey, saying that he will work with dedication and commitment to achieve “great things” for the university and the nation at large.