Remarks by U.S. Charge D’Affaires William D. Bent at the Makerere University Partner Recognition Dinner | June 16, 2023

Remarks by U.S. Charge D’Affaires William D. Bent at Makerere University Partner Recognition Dinner 

June 16, 2023 | Kampala (As Prepared for delivery)

Bent speechVice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, members of the University Council, and esteemed faculty and university partners, it gives me great pleasure to be here today.  Ambassador Brown sends her regards from Washington and would have loved to be here representing the United States as Makerere’s lead donor and partner country.  The U.S. Mission in Uganda is proud to stand in partnership with this historic educational institution.

In September last year we were honored to be part of Makerere’s 100-year anniversary as we also celebrated 60 years of the U.S.-Uganda relationship.   As we reflect on these milestones, it is an opportunity to remember the ways we are working together to ensure this university remains a global center for learning through partnerships with various U.S. government agencies.  Here are just a few examples from the public health sector:

  • 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, not to mention countless 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.
  • 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.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported U.S.-Ugandan collaborative research at Makerere University for over 50 years.
  • 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.

In areas outside of public health the U.S. government has worked with almost every department and college at the University over the years.

  • USAID introduced the PhD program in the Faculty of Agriculture and has continued to support the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in many ways.
  • USAID also provided supported the development of the social service workforce with training programs.
  • And right now, a team from Makerere led by Dr. Fred Munyoni is collaborating with Michigan State University to set up a Writing Center to support early career researchers.

These examples are only small segment of the deep and broad relationship the U.S. Mission to Uganda has with this prestigious university.  There are many more examples of American universities partnering with Makerere – I hear of at least 37 official university partnerships not affiliated with the U.S. government -and the list will continue to grow.

In addition to these important institutional partnerships, I must mention our investment in individual scholars and researchers through our Fulbright academic exchange programs.  Over 400 Ugandans have traveled to the United States on Fulbright academic exchanges in the past 75 years, and most of them have been from Makerere University.

Beginning with the late Professor Sentza Kajubi [Kah-JOO-bee] – one of the first African Fulbright scholars in the 1950s, to current Fulbrighters working as faculty and researchers across the University, we are proud to see these scholars build their academic careers across both our borders.

Recent U.S. Fulbright scholars have been involved with strengthening Uganda’s research and teaching capacity in law, medical sciences, environmental sciences, and agriculture.  From strengthening the department of Mass Communication and Journalism to launching the Public Interest Law Clinic, Fulbright alumni have changed the face of this University.

Makerere has also been host to many American Fulbright Scholars, as well as countless independent American students, researchers, and faculty members.   Makerere is the first choice for many U.S. scholars when looking for a partner or host university in East Africa thanks to the reputation for excellence the university has cultivated.

Bent with audienceFinally, Makerere has been a partner in our celebration of American culture and host to many artistic collaborations between Ugandan and American artists.  You have hosted many American performers, including the recent concert of the Black Alley band held in coordination with the Makerere Student Guild.  These opportunities enrich our communities and build bonds between our citizens.  Makerere has been an amazing partner for these creative exchanges and we look forward to continuing these engagements in addition to our academic and research collaborations.

As I close, I want to refer to the remarks of Dr. Michael Pippenger, Vice Provost of Internationalization at Notre Dame University who came to Uganda last year to deliver the Kajubi-Fulbright lecture as part of the Makerere at 100 celebrations.  In his remarks, he highlighted three values that are essential to successful global collaborations that he learned from his days as a Fulbright Scholar: solidarity, transparency, and commitment.

Tonight, I can see the solidarity among Makerere’s partners in this room, efforts to instill transparency in your partnerships, and a commitment to building the brightest future for the University through partnerships.

Global partnerships are, of course, only the means to an end. It’s not that we have agreements signed that make a university global, but what work we are able to do, as a result, together. The partnerships that universities build together must aspire to face the challenges before us.  In today’s world, it is essential to build upon and strengthen the university’s network of partners to take Makerere into the next 100 years.

The heart of so many of the partnerships mentioned here tonight is about connecting people to engender mutual understanding and learning – across sectors and cultures – and continual 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.