(as prepared for delivery)
It gives me great pleasure to be at Makerere University today to take part in this special event commemorating the Fulbright program and recognizing distinguished Fulbright alumnus the late Professor William Senteza Kajubi, one of the first Fulbright students from Africa. As we celebrate Makerere University’s 100-year anniversary and 60 years of the U.S.-Uganda relationship, the U.S. Mission is proud to stand in partnership with this historic educational institution. There is much to celebrate as we look to the next 100 years of academic cooperation.
As I look at this audience and see how busy the campus has been these past few months, allow me to acknowledge that one of the reasons we can gather in person is because of COVID-19 vaccines. Conditions are improving, but COVID-19 remains a threat. Vaccines are safe and effective, so I trust you are fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible, and I hope you encourage your friends and family to get the jab, too, including young people. For those in Uganda, vaccines are widely available – the United States donated over 18 million doses – and campaigns are underway country wide, including for children. The confirmed Ebola case in Mubende District is also a reminder of the interconnectedness of our world and the need to take seriously public health concerns. I want to commend all of the medical professionals responding to the outbreak, many of whom are Makerere graduates.
Now, back to the Kajubi-Fulbright lecture. What is the Fulbright program in which Professor Kajubi participated in the 1950s? Following World War II, U.S. Senator William Fulbright established this academic exchange program to build mutual understanding between the peoples of the world. Through degree programs, research, and teaching opportunities, American and international students can pursue academic exchange experiences through the Fulbright program. In 2021, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of this prestigious program, which includes over 400,000 alumni from 180 countries. Over four hundred of these alumni were from Uganda.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken summed up this extraordinary strength of the Fulbright Program stating, “The power of personal connection that this program makes possible is just as important as ever. The members of the Fulbright community are changemakers. They care deeply about the problems facing our world today, from stopping COVID-19 to countering threats to democracy.”
Professor Kajuibi is a shining star among Fulbright alumni, in Uganda and beyond. He traveled to the U.S. in 1952 as a Fulbright student to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Chicago. He returned to make great contributions to the education sector in Uganda and the region. His two-time tenure appointments at the helm of this university demonstrate his outstanding leadership ability. Moreover, Professor Kajubi did not limit himself to education alone; he went on to serve as a delegate to Uganda’s Constituent Assembly which created the new constitution in 1995, among other things. His legacy of service to his country remains an inspiration to generations of faculty and students alike.
The U.S. Mission Kampala is proud to manage the Fulbright program in Uganda. This year, we sent 12 Ugandan Fulbright grantees to academic programs for Masters, PhD, or research in the United States, and we are welcoming nine U.S. Fulbrighters to conduct research and teach in Uganda. As I mentioned previously, over 400 Ugandans have visited the U.S. on the Fulbright program and have returned to provide valuable public service to their country in the areas of education, media, science and innovation, law and human rights, art and culture and business. More than 370 American scholars, researchers, and teachers have come to lecture, teach, and conduct research in Uganda through Fulbright. The numbers alone do not tell the whole story. Each of these Fulbrighters impacted the institutional capacity of this country and the lives of countless others.
Recent U.S. Fulbright scholars have been involved with strengthening Uganda’s research and teaching capacity in law, medical sciences, environmental sciences, and agriculture. One remarkable thing about this program is the breath of subjects supported. To note the impact of these exchanges, I wish to highlight the Fulbright program’s contribution to a few fields at this university.
In the last three decades, 10 U.S. Fulbrighters have come to Makerere to teach in the department of Mass Communication and Journalism. Seven Ugandan faculty have received Fulbright grants to pursue higher degrees in journalism-related subjects at U.S. universities. These faculty came back to Makerere and trained a significant number of journalists and communications experts at the degree level, a change from the previous certificate and diploma programs. One of them, David Balikowa, collaborated with others to start the Monitor newspaper, which today we know as the leading independent daily. And Professor Monica Chibita went on to strengthen UCU’s department of Mass Communication, which she helped transform into the School of Journalism, Media and Communication.
In the area of the rule of law, U.S. Fulbright alumnus Ismene Zarifis was instrumental in the establishment of the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) in 2012 at Makerere’s School of Law. As the first law clinic established at a University in Uganda, this legal education program continues to equip law students with public interest law skills that have helped strengthen the protection of the rights of ordinary Ugandans.
And then there’s artist Taga Nuwagaba who was a lecturer and resident artist at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. And recently, New York Artist, Janet Goldner who presented a six-week workshop for visual art students in the Department of Fine Arts here at Makerere University, where they focused on found and local materials to explore social issues.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of our Fulbright connections, and yet the Fulbright Program is only one of many ways the U.S. Mission is engaged with Makerere University. We are proud to help make this university a global center for learning through partnerships with various U.S. government agencies. Here are just a few:
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported U.S.-Ugandan collaborative research at Makerere University for over 50 years. Just last week I joined an event with the African Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics showcasing Makerere University student and faculty research aimed at solving critical health problems using advanced bioinformatics. I was also proud to see U.S. Fulbright Scholar Jessica Kissinger supporting their work.
- USAID has partnered with Makerere on countless programs over the past six decades. Through USAID, we have introduced new degree programs such as the PhD program in the Faculty of Agriculture, an Executive MPH-MBA course, and we have supported efforts to strengthen the social service workforce. USAID also established research facilities such as the Centre for Climate Change Research and Innovations and has supported research projects at Makerere across many areas.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been working closely with Makerere University for decades, through partnerships with U.S. universities such as the world-renowned Johns Hopkins University to collaborate on essential public health research, often leading to groundbreaking discoveries.
- Along with the Makerere School of Public Health, CDC supports the Field Epidemiology Training Program to empower the next generation of public health leaders. I joined the graduation for the recent group in March and was so impressed by the passion these young people, trained by both U.S. and Ugandan experts, have for addressing public health concerns, informing policy, and publishing their research.
- Through our Department of Defense, we established in 2002 the Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) for the primary purpose of HIV vaccine development and building of vaccine testing capability in Uganda.
- And I am proud to highlight that much of this work is supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Through PEPFAR, the U.S. government has partnered with Makerere University as a national leader in essential public health education, research, and surveillance for nearly 20 years. Over the last two decades, Makerere has proven to be a global leader in the HIV/AIDS response and our strong collaboration continues with PEPFAR investing over $32 million in Makerere in the coming year alone.
These examples are only the tip of the deep relationship the U.S. Mission to Uganda has with this prestigious university. There are many more examples of U.S. universities partnering with Makerere, many not affiliated with the U.S. government, and the list will continue to grow. In just a few weeks we will launch a new writing center project with Michigan State University, an institution I know has many ties to Makerere.
It is this continued investment in the people of the university through training and exchange programs like Fulbright, joint research on the most important topics facing the region, and institutional development that we are proud to celebrate at Makerere’s 100-year anniversary.
And now we return to today’s theme – the internalization of higher education. Clearly Makerere has taken advantage of international partnerships over many years. In today’s world, it is essential to build upon and strengthen the university’s capacity in this area to take Makerere into the next 100 years. I look forward to hearing Dr. Michael Pippenger’s discussion about how forging international partnerships will cement this university’s place as a global leader in higher education.
The heart of the Fulbright program and so many of these academic partnerships mentioned above, is about connecting people across cultures to engender mutual understanding and work on solving key issues of the day. As we celebrate 60 years of Ugandan independence and the U.S.-Uganda relationship, we can look to the strong bonds between the United States and Makerere University as essential for building a more peaceful, prosperous, healthy, and democratic future for all our citizens.
Thank you, and congratulations again on the 100-year anniversary of Makerere University.