IUM declares 2021 as year of improved performance

23 February 2021 | Education

In his annual address to members of staff at the International University of Management (IUM) to mark the commencement of the new academic year on 26 January 2021, Professor David R. Namwandi, founder and chair of the IUM Governing Council, declared 2021 the ‘Year of Improved Performance’ in all aspects of IUM’s operations.

The chairman’s thoughtful statement resonates with the higher education philosophy of continuously improving all aspects of quality in education service delivery. We sat down with the professor to get more insight into his clarion call to all university staff, and below is a summary of what he shared with us.

Challenges and Innovation: The year 2020 was very challenging because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which negatively affected nearly all spheres of normal life in the entire country. However, in spite of interruptions to normal operations, the challenges provided the university with greater impetus for innovation instead of ‘business as usual.’ For example, the organisation, management and delivery of academic programmes was enhanced through the use of various online platforms and creative application of “blended teaching and learning” across IUM’s four campuses much more than ever before.

Optimism over Despair: He observed that the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 infected over 500 million people and caused an estimated 20 million to 50 million deaths, but it eventually passed. He was therefore optimistic that the current Covid-19 pandemic will also pass due to ongoing advancements in research, scientific knowledge and technological development which will eventually enable mankind to prevail over the pandemic.

Innovation is Inevitable: Professor Namwandi reminded staff that some of the top technological advancements of the past 10 to 50 years have become obsolete today due to further advancements in science and technology. For example, music cassettes and videotapes have been replaced by CDs, DVDs, memory cards and micro-chips; computer floppy disks have been replaced by USB flash drives, special memory cards, and micro-data-chips; telegrams have been replaced by email and mobile phone applications. In the same manner, today’s best technology is fast being replaced by new and even more advanced technology for the future with a robust growth in Artificial Intelligence products and applications.

Implications for IUM: As a higher education institution, the onus is on all IUM staff, students and stakeholders to confront current and emerging challenges with greater innovative capacity whether we like it, know it, or not. We have no alternative but to embrace the dynamics of scientific and technological advancements in order to remain relevant, more competitive in the global arena and make meaningful contributions to the global body of knowledge and human development (Note that dinosaurs became extinct because they could not adapt to the realities of their changing environment).

In other words, the challenges experienced last year and the challenges we are likely to encounter during 2021 must spur everyone to respond to the clarion call for improved performance in everything we do. That is, improved performance in our interaction with our natural environment; in our conceptualisation of phenomena; in the creation of new knowledge; in all our operations; and in the delivery of quality service.

Conclusion: The desired overall improved performance by all functional units of the university cannot wait until tomorrow. In the old Western films, the cowboys used to say, “if you snooze, you lose,” meaning that if you are not alert to your changing environment and not innovative enough, you stand to lose or be left behind in the dynamic competitive world. In this regard, IUM has put the following measures in place:

· To improve customer care and service – especially for our students and their parents or sponsors;

· to improve interpersonal skills and high levels of emotional intelligence in all interactions among staff, students and stakeholders;

· to improve academic excellence through improved research and publications to inform teaching and learning. This will be one of the criteria for academic staff rewards and promotions; and

· to ensure effective teaching/learning, effective student research supervision, and improved quality of outputs.

Professor Namwandi concluded by reminding members of staff that in the business of education, the mark of a learned person is humility. “Humility is honourable. If you are humble and nice to other people (including workmates and students) your legacy and the knowledge you impart to your students would forever be remembered.”

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