At least nine public universities in the country have acting vice-chancellors, making it difficult for them to make executive decisions for their institutions.
Since most of them are candidates likely to be interviewed by their respective university councils to get confirmed, they tend to lack courage to make hard decisions they may consider unpopular with their councils.
Kenyatta and Moi universities are among the institutions with acting VCs.
The other seven universities received their charters in October last year.
Kenyatta University has failed to recruit a VC since 2015, when the search for one started.
The recruitment at Moi University was nullified early last year due to conflict of interest.
The other institutions with acting VCs are Rongo University, the Cooperative University of Kenya, Taita-Taveta University, Murang’a University of Technology, University of Embu, Machakos University and Kirinyaga University.
Best human resource practices require those in acting capacities to hold the positions for about six months, and during this period the appointing authorities should be putting in place a mechanism for competitive recruitment.
At Kenyatta University, for instance, the search for a substantive VC has not been concluded following the retirement of Prof Olive Mugenda in March last year. Prof Paul Wainaina is acting VC.
However, the Nation has established that activist Okiya Omtatah, who had filed a case against the appointment of a new boss at the university, has since signed a consent document with the Ministry of Education, the educational institution and the Universities Academic Staff Union on coming up with the criteria for the appointment of a new VC.
At Moi University, the term of Prof Laban Ayiro, who was appointed acting VC in September last year, has been extended twice.
In September, Prof Ayiro was appointed by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to act for three months.
In January this year, his term was extended for three months.
He was later given an additional six months that ends in September.
The move was meant to give the university’s council, which had been constituted, time to embark on recruitment of a substantive VC.
Prof Ayiro was appointed to the position following the retirement of Prof Richard Mibey.
Prof Mibey had earlier gone on terminal leave but made a U-turn and took back his position, which he had handed over to Prof Fabian Omoding Esamai in an acting capacity.
Prof Ayiro’s appointment to the position in September caused an uproar, with some leaders from the region storming the university in protest.