American at UCU to receive honorary doctorate from Dartmouth

The honorary degree recipients at Dartmouth’s June 9 Commencement will be, clockwise from top left: Roger Federer, the Commencement speaker; Mira Murati, Thayer ’12; Paul Nakasone; Richard Ranger ’74; Roy Vagelos; Mung Chiang; Joy Buolamwini; Liz Cheney; and, center, John Urschel.

Dartmouth College, of Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, has announced that it will award Richard Ranger, missionary lecturer in Business and Law at Uganda Christian University (UCU), an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters at the College’s 253rd Commencement on June 9.

Each year, a member of the Dartmouth 50th reunion class is chosen to receive this award in recognition of service to the Dartmouth community and the broader world. Richard, a member of Dartmouth’s Class of 1974 that will celebrate its 50th Reunion in June, has been selected for this year’s honor.

Richard Ranger with members of the 2022 UCU-Dartmouth solar water heating project team (Phase 1). From left are Shalom Mukami, UCU Engineering ‘23; Veronica Yarovinsky, Dartmouth ’24; Richard; Daniel Tumusiime UCU Engineering ’22; Dr. Stephen Doig, faculty advisor and Senior Research and Strategy Advisor at the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and Dartmouth ’82, Dartmouth ’24; Noah Daniel, Dartmouth ‘23; Ethan Aulwes, Dartmouth ’22.
Richard Ranger with members of the 2022 UCU-Dartmouth solar water heating project team (Phase 1). From left are Shalom Mukami, UCU Engineering ‘23; Veronica Yarovinsky, Dartmouth ’24; Richard; Daniel Tumusiime UCU Engineering ’22; Dr. Stephen Doig, faculty advisor and Senior Research and Strategy Advisor at the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and Dartmouth ’82, Dartmouth ’24; Noah Daniel, Dartmouth ‘23; Ethan Aulwes, Dartmouth ’22.

Each year prospective honorary degree recipients—scholars, artists, innovators, public servants, philanthropists, and others who have made extraordinary contributions to their respective fields and society at large—are nominated by members of the Dartmouth community. The confidential nominations are reviewed by the Council on Honorary Degrees, which selects the honorands in consultation with the president and the Board of Trustees.

In addition to Richard Ranger, this year’s recipients are: 

  • Joy Buolamwini, a computer scientist, artist, and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League;
  • Liz Cheney, former U.S. representative from Wyoming and vice chair of the House Jan. 6 committee;
  • Mung Chiang, president of Purdue University;
  • Commencement speaker Roger Federer, philanthropist and former tennis champion;
  • Mira Murati, Thayer ’12, chief technology officer of OpenAI;
  • Paul Nakasone, retired director of the National Security Agency and commander, U.S. Cyber Command;
  • John Urschel, a mathematician and former Baltimore Ravens guard; and 
  • Roy Vagelos, philanthropist and retired chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. and retired chairman of Regeneron

At UCU along with his wife, Catherine, Richard serves as a missionary with the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS), based in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, USA. Prior to coming to UCU in 2020, Richard spent 43 years as a negotiator, environmental compliance manager, and community and government relations specialist in the oil and gas industry in the western United States, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. From that background, he now lectures in business and law at UCU. Dartmouth’s announcement describes this second career as reflecting “his lifelong commitment to service, his faith, and his sense of adventure.”

“I am humbled beyond belief at this award,” Richard says. “As many who know me know, I am deeply loyal to Dartmouth and to the education that I was blessed with there, and the gift of so many friendships from the Dartmouth community. As someone who has served my class as its Newsletter Editor for some 40 years, I know the many stories of achievement, character, and conscience that distinguish our class. Such a recognition could easily have gone to any of a number of my classmates and have been richly deserved. That it is coming to me is a gift beyond measure.”

Catherine and Richard Ranger during a July 2023 trip to Biharamulo and Maleba, Tanzania
Catherine and Richard Ranger during a July 2023 trip to Biharamulo and Maleba, Tanzania

Richard adds: “As a missionary, I’m also very conscious of the fact that it’s a rare missionary who is awarded an honorary degree. The four years we have spent in the company of people serving in mission and serving the needs of a broken world in so many ways have introduced us not just to colleagues, but to true heroes. I’m reminded of this every day here at UCU, which was initially founded by a missionary minister as a seminary, who got here to Uganda by walking from the Indian Ocean coast.”

At UCU, alongside UCU colleagues, Richard has taught Corporate Governance and Business Ethics in the School of Business, and Oil and Gas Law in the Faculty of Law. 

Along with Catherine, Richard has served as a mentor for individual students. Together they host a weekly cell fellowship from the patio of their campus Tech Park apartment. And for the past two years, Richard has served as site coordinator for installation of a solar thermal water heating system for the campus dining hall – a joint effort by engineering students from Dartmouth and from UCU. 

Richard Ranger lecturing in the UCU Corporate Governance and Business Ethics course for the Accounting and Finance students, 2023
Richard Ranger lecturing in the UCU Corporate Governance and Business Ethics course for the Accounting and Finance students, 2023

 “To have seen students from the two universities work together and build together across frontiers of distance and culture is simply the most rewarding job I have ever had,” Richard said. 

As a person of faith, he gives any glory for the Dartmouth award to God,  adding appreciation for the opportunity to serve at UCU. 

“Not everyone is in such a position,” he said.  “Our hope is that the highlighting of our story through the award Dartmouth is giving me will lead others to ask whether and how they might serve. Because it’s possible – and because in a broken world our hearts, hands, and talents are needed.”

Richard said he is “blessed to be able to do this work in a place that I love, in the company of the woman I love, among Ugandan friends”  in a place that “challenges us to learn every day.”

“To have an honorary degree from my alma mater on top of all of that is an incredible blessing,” he said. 

Uganda Christian University Partnership

Uganda Christian University (UCU) Strengthens Collaborative Bonds through Partnership with St. Paul’s University

By Jimmy Siyasa

LIMURU, KENYA – August 14, 2023 – A significant milestone in the world of higher education was marked today as Uganda Christian University (UCU) and St. Paul’s University (SPU) came together to solidify their partnership through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The ceremonial event took place at SPU’s Main Campus in the serene town of Limuru, Kenya. Both institutions, rooted in their shared Church-based foundations, are poised to embark on a journey of mutual collaboration and growth.

What’s in the partnership?

The agreement encompasses a range of collaborative initiatives aimed at fostering educational enrichment and innovation. Spearheaded by the leadership of Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the Vice Chancellor of UCU, and backed by a team including Mr. Samson Wanambuko, the Senior Legal Officer, and Dr. Angella Napakol, the Head of Grants and Partnerships, UCU has extended its hand in partnership to SPU.

UCU and SPU sign partnership rotated e1692086554797

Among the key areas of cooperation outlined in the MoU are the exchange of faculty and students, collaborative research ventures, the external evaluation of postgraduate dissertations, and the exchange of best practices and innovations in teaching and learning.

Present at the signing ceremony were esteemed representatives from both institutions. Prof. Peter Ngure, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at SPU, extended a warm welcome to Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi. Alongside them were Rev. Truphie Sumba, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, and other prominent university officials from SPU.

In his address, Prof. Mushengyezi highlighted the importance of cultivating a strong partnership between UCU and SPU. He emphasised that the collaborative efforts envisioned under this MoU would not only enhance the academic experience for both institutions’ faculty and students but also contribute to the broader educational landscape.

To further solidify the newly forged partnership, Prof. Mushengyezi extended a cordial invitation to the SPU team to visit the Uganda Christian University campus. This gesture serves as a tangible step towards nurturing the relationship and exploring avenues for joint endeavours.

The partnership between UCU and SPU holds immense promise in fostering academic growth, interdisciplinary exploration, and the sharing of knowledge across diverse educational horizons. As the two institutions embark on this collaborative journey, they set a commendable example of the power of cooperative learning and the impact it can have on shaping the future of education.


UCU Arua campus hits 20-year milestone

By Pauline Luba
From a trade school to a lay readers training college and now part of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) family, the Arua campus has shown a marked growth in both enrollment and importance to the community in the northwestern part of Uganda. 

This year, the UCU Arua Campus marks 20 years of being part of the UCU family and 64 years of being a training institute. Before the campus was made a theological college and part of UCU in 2003, it was offering diploma and certificate courses in theology and also training Lay Readers in the region. However, in 1959 when it was established by the African Inland Mission under the leadership of its first principal, the Rev. Robert Booth, the institution was named the Rural Trade School.

When UCU took over the facility, it had four departments — Theology, Business Administration, Social Sciences and Education — all offering bachelor’s degrees.

Some of the achievements at UCU Arua campus

The facility also had 80 students and 27 staff. However, 20 years down the road, the four departments have still been maintained, but with an increase in student enrolment to over 650 and about 100 staff members.

UCU has since constructed a multipurpose hall, which also doubles as the University Chapel. Another building is the library and a block for lecture rooms to accommodate the increasing number of students. University education at the facility has been decentralized to train the much-needed human resource in the districts at more affordable rates.

In July, UCU Chancellor, who is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Uganda, the Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu visited the facility, located in northwestern part of Uganda, for the first time as its chancellor, during one of the campus’ activities to mark 20 years. 

UCU leadership, led by the Chancellor, His Grace Kaziimba Mugalu (center), at the celebrations in July
UCU leadership, led by the Chancellor, His Grace Kaziimba Mugalu (center), at the celebrations in July

UCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Assoc. Prof. John Kitayimbwa and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) David Mugawe, were among the team that went with Kaziimba to Arua. While welcoming Kaziimba, the UCU Arua Campus Director, the Rev. Julius Tabbi Izza, said that he was optimistic for future opportunities of development for the campus. 

He said the campus had become a home to a number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic due to their huge presence in the region. Last year, the campus won a regional award as the best higher institution of learning in West Nile for 2022. The criteria for selecting the awardees involved assessing their economic sustainability, operational effectiveness, level of technology adoption, progressive leadership and culture, as well as social and community contribution, commitment and perseverance. 

The campus, however, still faces a major challenge of threats on its land. Izza said that the about 100 acres that the facility sits on are under threat from some individuals in the community. Izza, therefore, asked for the process of transferring the land title from the particulars of the African Inland Mission to the trustees of the Church of Uganda or UCU to be expedited.

Among the plans in the pipeline is elevating the campus into a constituent college, a massive student recruitment strategy expected to garner 1,000 learners by next year, beautification of the environment and infrastructure, implementation of the multi-billion masters plan project, development of an endowment project and a staff recruitment plan as well. To achieve the intended plans, Izza argued that unity among the key stakeholders will be crucial.  

Jimmy Siyasa, the UCU Public Relations Officer, said there was hope that the Arua campus would morph into a fully-fledged college sooner than later. “In short, there is much to hope for,” Siyasa said. 


Why an advanced degree in nursing? Two UCU PhDs share

By Patty Huston-Holm
Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) two lecturers with PhDs in nursing have reasons for their academic journeys not unlike those acquiring advanced degrees in other career fields. The passion for learning often starts with an interest through role model observations followed by personal growth and then understanding and application of how additional knowledge and skill improve people, organizations and systems.  

This is especially true in health care, according to Dr. Elizabeth Namukombe Ekong and Dr. Faith Rosemary Sebuliba Kasumba. They hold a half dozen each of nursing credentials including master’s degrees from UCU and doctoral degrees from other countries. They teach students pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees under the UCU Faculty of Public Health, Nursing and Midwifery.  

Dr. Karen Drake of Bethel University, center, with UCU’s two lecturers with PhDs in nursing
Dr. Karen Drake of Bethel University, center, with UCU’s two lecturers with PhDs in nursing

“At the bachelor’s level, you are learning how you can improve yourself,” Elizabeth said. “At the master’s level, you enhance that while knowing more about policies and practices. With a PhD, you go deeper in questioning to solve problems, improve health, save more lives.”

Acquisition of these capabilities is especially critical for nurses and even more so for developing countries like Uganda.  The World Health Organization reports the 27.9 million nurses globally reflects a shortage of 13 million nurses. According to the World Bank, there are 1.6 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people in Uganda, compared to nearly 12 per 1,000 in the United States. 

On a July 31, 2023, morning when UCU nursing students were on a full break from classes or engaged in practical experiences, the university’s two nursing PhD holders shared their recollections about early experiences with health care that led them along their career paths. They elaborated on the value of advanced degrees in nursing. 

Faith and Elizabeth received their doctoral degrees from Texila American University (Guyana,  South America) and the University of Central Nicaragua, respectively.  Both are married to medical doctors.  Dr. Thomas Sebuliba has been the husband of Faith for 34 of his 37 years as a practicing physician; they have three children.  Elizabeth likewise has three children with Dr. Ekong Joseph, who has been a doctor for 18 of their 24 years of marriage. The husbands had some influence on the wives’ advancement in nursing but not all, especially at the onset.  

What inspired two of UCU’s lecturers

For Faith, her health care interest can be pinpointed to an injured ear at age five when living in the Fort Portal, western Uganda region.  

“I pricked my ear,” she recalled of how she tried to imitate adults cleaning their ears with match sticks. “My siblings and I dared each other to see who could go the deepest, and I won.”

The damage put Faith in a hospital, now known as Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, for two months. During a series of surgeries leading to full recovery, she was surrounded by caring, nurturing nurses. It was them as well as a “retired nursing officer” cousin who started her direction to become a nurse. 

On the opposite side of the country, Elizabeth was likewise young and watching happenings around a health facility in eastern Uganda’s Kamuli District. 

“I was fascinated to see people go in a place sick and come out well,” she said. “I was surprised that somebody could identify your problem and help you get better…By the time I  was in secondary school, I was looking for a profession where I could do that.” 

When considering higher education options and given the choice between being a doctor or nurse, Elizabeth and Faith chose nursing that would allow them closer contact with patients. While their education journeys after high school are roughly eight years apart, both Elizabeth and Faith started out as midwives – an occupation in 2023 that, according to the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council chaired by Elizabeth, is occupied by around 70,000 men and women. 

“To smile at a baby was pure joy,” Elizabeth said of her midwifery practice at Mulago. “I’m still passionate about newborns and identifying and helping mothers at risk.” 

While helping mothers deliver their babies, Elizabeth and Faith worked at deepening their health care knowledge with the growing realization of the need to pass on what they learned. They began to understand the value in stretching the knowledge and curiosity of the next generation of nurses in their country.

“Until 1993, nurses were only at the diploma level here,” Faith said. That year, she recalled, Makerere University started a bachelor of nursing program that interested her but she couldn’t begin because of child rearing responsibilities while her husband was getting surgical training in Zimbabwe. She got a couple more diplomas before getting her bachelor’s degree at UCU in 2007. 

Elizabeth, who got her UCU Bachelor of Nursing Science in 2008, also started to see the importance of teaching others while continuing her own learning. Like Faith, she worked her way up from tutor to lecturer. As teachers, they share both the academic and practical sides of nursing. 

“I’ve seen a critically ill person, not able to talk or open the eyes and then functioning after treatment,” Elizabeth said. “As I am enlightened with deeper understanding and ownership, I pass that on  to students.”

Faith and Elizabeth cite Dr. Karen Drake, emeritus professor of nursing, Bethel University (St. Paul, Minn.), as their mentor. Karen, who holds a PhD in educational policy and administration, has been a practising nurse since 1968, including at the side of her late husband in East Africa; as well as a nurse educator at UCU for more than a decade.  

The difference among bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees is primarily critical thinking and problem solving, according to the two UCU nursing doctoral holders.  Those with undergraduate degrees are primarily applying what they have been told while those with advanced degrees are more likely to keep questioning. 

“Many times, people say the PhD is for the sake of self-actualization,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t see it that way.  I see it about more help for the patient, better services, improved policies and processes.” 

For Faith, her advanced degree has reinforced the “importance of collaboration for change” with increased confidence and a “spirit of inquiry.” One area in need of louder,  more informed voices is  mental health that is “highly stigmatized” in an ill-informed East African culture that may label mentally ill people as “possessed,” she said. 

In addition to what their advanced degrees offer for their students, Faith and Elizabeth are frequently at the table for policy and research discussions and conference presentations. Topics have included early postnatal care improvements, work-based learning, menstrual hygiene among adolescents and technology learning and application.

“We need to have nurse leaders at various levels,” Elizabeth said. 

In addition to their on-paper credentials and reputations as esteemed lecturers and nurse practitioners, Christian walk is critical to UCU’s two PhD holders. 

“God has called me to do this,” Elizabeth said. “My model is Jesus Christ.”

“It’s a calling,” Faith concurred, admitting that she initially didn’t want to teach but a higher power nudged her there. “When I feel almost like giving up, I know who is my strength. God is my strong foundation.” 

Meet Reagan Okello: UCU’s Promising Young Artist

By Christopher Muchwa

Meet Reagan Okello, a talented young artist

Meet Reagan Okello, a talented young artist who is making waves at Uganda Christian University (UCU). Though he is only in his second year, Reagan has already made a name for himself with his exceptional paintings. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Industrial and Fine Arts, but his painting skills are already well beyond what one might expect from someone at his level.

Passion for Art

Reagan’s passion for art is evident in every stroke of his brush. His work captures the essence of life, from human figures to the serene countryside. In one of his most recent paintings, Reagan beautifully portrays the simplicity of country life with vivid colours and intricate details. It’s no surprise that his work has caught the attention of many art enthusiasts around the university.

When asked about his art, Reagan shares his love for painting, especially with ceramics. He constantly experiments with different materials, techniques, and styles to hone his craft. His dedication to his work has earned him recognition from his friends within and outside of the university.

As a student at UCU, Reagan has had the opportunity to learn from some of the best artists in the country. He credits the supportive community at UCU for his success and looks forward to continuing his journey as an artist.

We are thrilled to have Reagan Okello as part of our UCU community, and we can’t wait to see what he will accomplish in the future. Check out the accompanying video to see more of his stunning artwork and hear from Reagan about his passion for art and his experience at UCU.