PROFESSOR MARY JOSSY NAKANDHA OKWAKOL PhD
Professor Mary Jossy Nakandha Okwakol is the founding Vice Chancellor of Busitema University, a public University focusing on science and technology and established in 2007. Prior to moving to Busitema University, she served as Deputy Vice Chancellor of Gulu University (2002–2006), another public University of which she was one of the founding leaders. She has extensive academic experience, having held various positions at Makerere University, rising to full Professor in 1999. She is one of the few women scientists in Uganda who have contributed immensely to the advancement of the sciences, and she stands out as an icon of science. In addition to obtaining a PhD in Zoology from Makerere University, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London in 1992, a Fellow of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences in 2009, and awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa by Josai International University (Japan).
Professor Okwakol is currently Chairperson of the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB), a Member of National Council for Higher Education representing Vice Chancellors of public Universities, a Member of the Board Executive Committee of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) representing Eastern Africa, and a member of the Organising Committee of the World Women University Presidents Forum representing Africa.
She has previously served as Chairperson of the International Board of Management of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Programme (TSBF), Chairperson of the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) Members Forum, Chairperson of the Global Steering Committee (2004-2005) of the GEF/UNEP funded Project on Below Ground Biodiversity for Sustainable Land Production, implemented by seven tropical countries, and also as a member of the project’s Global Advisory Committee. She has also served on various other Boards, Councils and Committees at national, regional and international levels. These include the Inter-University Council for East Africa, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere, African Soil Science Society, East African Wildlife Society, Uganda Wildlife Society, Uganda National Parks, Uganda Wildlife Education Center and Wldlife Clubs of Uganda.
Professor Okwakol has a passion for uplifting the underprivileged, especially girls and women. In this regard, she was Chairperson of Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Uganda Chapter, Chairperson of the Uganda Women’s Trust, a Board member of FAWE Africa (Regional), and Chairperson of the Organizing Committee for the 8th International Interdisciplinary Women’s Worlds 2002 Congress.
Professor Okwakol’s various roles have earned her awards and recognitions that include the Golden Jubilee Independence Anniversary Medal in recognition of outstanding service in the field of education by the President of Uganda.; Model of Excellence and Woman of Distinction by the Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE); recognition of significant and telling contribution to wildlife conservation by the Uganda Wildlife Authority; recognition of the outstanding contribution to the promotion of Girls Education by Uganda Ministry of Gender and ; the Africa – India Partnership Educational Excellence Award in recognition of outstanding contribution to education.
Professor Okwakol is married to Mr. Nathan Okwakol – an Advocate of Uganda’s Courts of Judicature and a Commissioner for Oaths and Notary Public. They are blessed with two daughters and a son, and five grandchildren. She enjoys music, current affairs and reading.