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The afternoon of Friday 20th July was graced with jovial laughter and chuckles as the law alumnus from as far back as the graduate class of 1998 to the graduate class of 2018, gathered at the ‘Save the Mother’s Gardens’ at Uganda Christian University Mukono for a homecoming event organized by the Law Society in conjunction with the Alumni Association.

At the peak of the event was the consensus by the alumnus to create an Endowment Fund that is hoped would be used to finance the faculty activities such as the moots, debates and awarding the best performing students. This session was chaired by Bernard Oundo who called upon representatives from various graduate years to make their pledges on how to finance and sustain the fund of which most chose from the various categories that were suggested such as the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum to be contributed monthly. The actual break down being a fee of not less than UGX: 20,000 for Bronze, not less than UGX: 50,000 for Silver and not less than UGX: 100,000 for Gold, and not less than 200,000 for Platinum.     

Majority of the alumus pledged that their graduate years would be giving the highest contribution, platinum, whereas others offered to deliberate on the matter and present conclusions from their discussions at a later date.

Law alumni making their pledges
Law Alumni making pledges

 

However, this categorization was met by criticisms from the renowned human rights lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo an alumnus from the year 2000 – 2004 who noted that this would ultimately lead to discriminiton and inequality between the alumnus. He noted;

“Every alumnus is the same and creating classes should not be the case”.

Mooli Albert Sibuta representing the class of 1998 2002
Mooli Albert Sibuta representing the pioneer law graduate class (1998 - 2002)

He further detailed that the intricacies of creating these classes as per the contributions might bring about preferential treatment towards the rights that will be enjoyed by the alumni because of the categories they had selected. He continued to note that rather than select a category for contribution, the support from the alumnus should be voluntary towards building the law school. With these remarks, he pledged to contribute 1,000 USD. every year personally towards the school that built him up.

He however placed a disclaimer noting that so much is expected from the alumni from the faculty and non is expected from the students. Thus, he noted that the alumni should also place a lot of expectations from the law school. In his concluding remarks, he noted that the students of the law school could contribute in three key areas according to his observation.

Firstly, the Law School should start to celebrate her law alumni in order to instill pride and create morale to continuously partner with the faculty to support the school, secondly, that the law school should encourage active involvement of the law alumni in the activities of the faculty as much as possible and lastly, that the law alumni association should be allowed to blossom. 

Acting Dean Addressing the alumni
Acting Dean, Ms. Sarah Taboswa addressing the Alumni

After his closing remarks, the moderator of the session, Bernard clarified that there would not be special rights attached to the categorization of the contributions, but it was rather a systematic way of knowing how much the faculty would be expecting each month as per the pledges.

The interim head of the law alumni association, Samuel Kiriaghe urged the alumni to render support to the faculty whenever requested to. He went on to thank the law alumni who have been consistently contributing to the faculty. He particularly thanked Oundo and Co. Advocates and Mrk Advocates for offering their law firm boardrooms for moots training. He also thanked among others Nicholas Opiyo, Anthony Bazira, and Patson Arinaitwe for contributing towards the faculty alumni award that has always been given to the best performing students.

We need each other. We need to network as a benefit from the law alumni association.” He commented as he made his closing annotations.

He also appreciated the law firms that were hosting interns from UCU Law.

Dr. Benon Musinguzi DVC
Dr. Benon Musinguzi, DVC Academic Affairs

The position of the university towards the faculty alumni

In his message to the Law Alumni, Benon Musinguzi, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs (DVC) presented the skepticism and displeasure of the university towards the autonomous law alumni when there already existed a general alumni group from the university.

“Management nonetheless has questions that should be answered in a positive way” quoted verbatim. He made an inquiry of the Law Alumni on how they plan to associate and be a part of the greater alumnus from the university rather than create and independent alumni association.

Let your objectives be clear” he insisted. He hoped the objectives of the Law Alumni association will not create a separation between the law alumni and the general alumni.

The DVC however observed that the faculty of law is the first to think about a faculty alumni association and “others have followed suit.” He nevertheless commended the faculty of law for the impact they have made to the university aside from the misperception of the independent alumni association.

All the levels to which UCU is graded, I assure you, it is what the law alumni are doing that has made UCU what it is today” he remarked gleefully. “Definitely other alumni have also made us what we are.”

He urged the law alumni to keep up the businesses they have started.

Mentor students, keep up what you are doing, and UCU will keep on shinning” he advised on his conclusion.

Dean’s speech.

The Dean was not available physically but he left a speech that was presented by the interim Dean Ms, Sarah Taboswa who read out his speech.

The most successful law schools have a very close involvement from their alumni in the day to day running of the Law Schools” he said. He informed the law alumni that for as long as they continued to affiliate themselves with UCU through presenting their CVs, or in any other capacity, “This great institution will indirectly continue to open up doors for you that will contribute positively towards shaping your career path.”

He asked the law alumni to work hard and roll up their sleeves and ensure that those that come after them will go through UCU and carry the same joy and pride the alumni have.

We need you as alumni to come on board and work with us in addressing the factors that can easily draw us back from progress,” he emphasized heartedly. The alumni should through their experiences at the university present ideas to improve the experiences of the current and the future students. He continued to note orally in the speech that was projected for the rest to see.

The Dean in his speech mentioned that one of the ways that the law alumni can respond to the questions the faculty has is by putting in place and cementing a strong UCU Law Alumni Association that will work hand in hand with the faculty administration.

I envisage a Law Alumni that can get involved and contribute in the following respects” he noted including the aspects he mentioned. Firstly, Mentorship of current students as well as fresh graduates, Secondly, Supporting UCU Moots, thirdly, Rendering support to the UCU Legal Aid Clinics, additionally, Supporting an autonomous office Structure, further still, Fund a buddy and last but not least Redefining ‘Homecoming’.

The DVC cemented one of the points stated by the Dean in his speech, when during his own remarks, he noted that he has a vision of a Faculty that will be transformed into a School of Law with various institutes supporting various projects in Humanitarian and Commercial Laws around the globe.

(Attached is the full speech of the dean)

By the end of the homecoming a 5 member interim committee was set up to follow up the pledges that were being made, and to help realise some of the objectives.

Izabel with Rwaka entertaining the alumni
Izabel and Rwaka entertaining the Law Alumni

Karibuje Phillious of PHLEB Advocates from the alumni group of 2009 - 2012 made a pledge for his law firm and offered to give a cheque of one million shillings to the faculty.

By the end of the event, the alumni had raised up to 5.2 million as start up capital for the endowment fund.

These speeches, remarks, conclusions were closed by the cutting of the cake and cheerful departure of the alumnus after what seemed to be a very rewarding and momentous day.

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The Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University (UCU), Rev. Dr. John Ssenyonyi has on behalf of the university signed a partnership with the University of Cincinnati (UC). The vice Chancellor visited the UC main campus on 18th April 2018 while on his annual visit in the States.

The relationship between the two universities will cover joint research and training programs, Faculty mobility, Student mobility, the preparation of joint proposals for external funding, joint programs of consulting and evaluation, joint sponsorship of conferences, joint publication and exchange of materials, articles and other publications.

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Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi poses with Prof. Bert Lockwood at UC

 

Among the first programs to be rolled out with this new arrangement is that, UCU under the faculty of law would become the first university in the region to create a sandwich program under which LL.B students can study one academic year in the U.S and graduate with both an LL.B and LL.M after four years.

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 From Left; Arnold Agaba, Dr.  Ruth Ssenyonyi,Provost of UC Kristi Nelson, Rev. Canon Dr. John Ssenyonyi, and Norah Wagner, Dean LLM Program UC

“We have a unique sandwich program” says Dr. Anthony Kakooza, the Dean, faculty of law. The student (s) will study the bachelors at UCU for 3 years, and in the fourth year, do the masters at Cincinnati and later come back to Uganda and graduate with a bachelors in law from UCU, and a masters in law from the UC.

“From the partnership will be exchange programs, joint publications, and material especially for the medical school and the institute” says the Dean. He added that UC has a great plan for the medical school.

 

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Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi with Prof. Bert Lockwood at UC last year at UCU

Prior to the new arrangement, there had been an existing partnership between UC and the UCU faculty of law that has been in place since 2016. The John Sentamu Institute for Humanitarian Law and Human Rights has been working closely with the Human Rights Quarterly and the Urban Morgan Institute of Human Rights at UC where projects have been undertaken including the Acid Survivors project with two other Non-governmental organizations, the Rise Coalition and End Acid Violence in Uganda.

The partnerships have already realized a draft bill, the Acid Attacks (Prohibition and Prevention) Bill, 2017 that was drafted by the faculty. It is hoped that when passed, it will be insightful as a specific legislation against acid attack violence in Uganda.

The Human Rights Quarterly has sent a number of books on human rights and international humanitarian law to the faculty and have since informed students during the research.

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From left: Dr. Anthony C. Kakooza, Prof. Bert Lockwood, Agaba Arnold, Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi and Dr. Raj Mehta posing for a picture in the VC's Office last year.

In 2017, last year, Dr. Raj Mehta, the Vice Provost in charge of international Affairs and Prof. Bert Lockwood, the Director of the Urban Morgan Institute and the editor Human Rights Quarterly visited UCU main campus to establish a formal relationship. The partnership that has been signed by the Vice Chancellor cements the already existent relationship between UCU and University of Cincinnati and also extends the benefits to other faculties in the university.

©2018 Faculty of Law, Uganda Christian University. All Rights Reserved.

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