Professor Stephen Kiama Gitahi is the 8th Vice-Chancellor, University of Nairobi. He holds an earned doctorate degree in Structural Biology from University of Bern in Switzerland. He is an accomplished scholar with proven track record in formulating and managing academic programs and on research and publication. He has over 16 years’ experience in management and leadership positions at the University of Nairobi.
Prof. Kiama was employed by the University of Nairobi upon graduation in 1990 as an assistant Lecturer in the Department of Veterinary Anatomy. Since then he has risen through the ranks to positions of Lecturer (1995), Senior Lecturer (2002), Associate Professor (2012) and Professor (2016). Prof. Kiama is currently serving as Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi with effect from Jan 6 2020 to Jan 5 2025. Previously he served as the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Human Resource and Administration at University of Nairobi, the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor In-charge of Finance, Planning and Development, Principal College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences from 2016 to 2019, Director of Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies from 2010 to 2016, Chairman of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology from 2005—2010, Acting dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in 2014 and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine from 2003-2010. He played a key role in conceptualizing and actualizing the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies during his tenure as the Director, Associate Dean and Chairman of the Department. The late Prof. Wangari Maathai in whose honor the Institute is named, and the 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate spent many days from August 2008 with him where she shared her vision of the Institute. Unfortunately, Prof Wangari Maathai passed on in 2011 barely about 2 years after the Institute was approved by the University of Nairobi Council. By then he was well equipped to actualize the vision.
Prof. Kiama has been actively engaged in various societal leadership roles including serving as the Chairman, Board of Management, Gatugi Girls Secondary School in Nyeri County (2015 to 2018); Chairman Board of Management, Utafiti Primary School in Makueni county (2016 to present) as well as a Jury member in the University of Nairobi Tower, Wangari Maathai Institute campus, Golden Climate awards and the Wangari Maathai Scholarship Award. Regionally, he served as the node coordinator of the African Natural Product Training Network (RISE-AFNNET) involving three universities from East Africa (Makerere, Sokoine University and University of Nairobi), a network formed through success in competitive funding obtained from the Carnegie Corporation of New York through SIG-RISE. Through this program, he provided scholarships to 16 PhD and MSc graduates, most of the graduates have been absorbed in academic Institutions including the University of Nairobi. In October 2018, he was elected to serve as the Chairman of Deans and Principals of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). RUFORUM is a consortium of 114 Universities in 38 countries in Africa with a mission of strengthening the capacities of universities to foster innovations responsive to demands of small-holder farmers. Additionally, he has served as a Member of the students Welfare Board, Chairman and Vice Chairman of SONU electoral commission cumulatively for 5 years and the founder Chairman of the Steering Committee of the University of Nairobi’s Royal Satima Mineral water.
In order to hone his strategic and transformative leadership skills, he registered and successfully completed a course in Strategic leadership and Development Program at the Kenya School of Government in August 2014 (SLDP No. 82/2014). Other relevant training attended include University leadership retreat under the theme “Personal Effectiveness for University Managers”, Mombasa, Kenya. (2004); an In-house training program on financial management and human resource management for Dean of Faculties of the University of Nairobi, Kisumu (2005) and Workshop on Training of Chief internal examiners, University of Nairobi (2006.
Prof. Kiama is an accomplished scholar with a track record in formulating and managing academic programs and supervising and mentoring Postgraduate students. He has successfully supervised and mentored 12 PhD Students and 14 Master’s students to completion. He has served as a member of Senate since 2003.
Prof Kiama’s academic and research career has been exemplary as demonstrated by several publications in peer review journals. To date he has co-authored over 149 journal and conference publications. The papers have been published in prestigious and high-impact factor journals such as Nature, Nature Communications, Journal of Leukocyte Biology, Immunology and cell Biology, American Journal of Pathology, American Journal of Respiratory, Cell and Molecular Biology and Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Besides authoring several publications and attending National
and International scientific conferences, he has a cumulative 29 years of research and teaching experience at various institutions including University of Nairobi, St. Andrews University in Scotland, Free University of Berlin, Germany, University of Bern, Switzerland, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and University of Ghana.
Taken together, Prof. Kiama has a unique experience of maintaining a vibrant research career marked by high quality publications and success in grant awards; an excellent record of visionary leadership marked by success in various positions he has held at the University; a strong commitment to mentorship of undergraduate, post-graduate and faculty staff that he works with; and skills in attracting and maintaining networks within and between local and international universities and non-academic institutions that have allowed for cross-fertilization of ideas and experiences that have catalyzed growth in the institutions he has led.