Newly Appointed Head of Kenya-based Catholic Institution, First-ever Lay, “delighted”

Professor David Wang’ombe, the newly appointed Vice Chancellor designate of Tangaza University College, Kenya-based Catholic institution jointly owned by 22 religious congregations
Credit: ACI Africa

The 33-year-old Kenya-based Catholic institution of higher learning jointly owned by various religious orders, Tangaza University College (TUC), is set to be headed by a lay person after members of its Consortium Trust “unanimously voted to offer Professor (David) Wang’ombe the position” of Vice Chancellor designate.

Serving as the Dean of the Faculty of Management and Commerce at Strathmore University, the Nairobi-based corporate apostolic undertaking of Opus Dei, the professor of accounting has shared with ACI Africa about his latest appointment, expressing his delight and desire for mentorship cognizant of his limited background in such leadership role.

“I am so delighted, and to say the truth I am thrilled that I happened to be the first lay person to have the chance to lead such a prestigious group of people; 22 religious congregations, each with some of its own kind of background but have come together to work, I am delighted,” Professor Wang’ombe told ACI Africa in an exclusive interview Friday, November 29.

“I have never been to a seminary and I think it is by God’s choice that I take the responsibility of a lay person leading religious people,” Prof. Wang’ombe who has been working at Strathmore University for about 17 years added.

He expressed his appreciation for the cultural diversity in TUC, which has over 40 nationalities with approximately 100 religious congregations and different religions and denominations.

“Having various nationalities and cultures in Tangaza is already a very big plus for me and I will encourage even more. Diversity helps to grow knowledge and the wider the diversity the higher the knowledge,” he said and added, “how best this is to bring these cultures into one place, this is number one achievement to have diversity of students from across the globe to build on knowledge.”

Explaining how he desires to start off at the nine-institute multicultural institution, Prof. Wang’ombe said, “I would like to have two kinds of helpers. One, a professional with experience of running an institution like a University; it is always good when a young person or when a person is running an institution for the first time to get a mentor who has done such a job.”

“The second one is a religious helper,” the Kenyan-born professor said and explained, “I am very emphatic about a religious helper, very critical about that. I am interested in a religious person who understands the culture of Tangaza and of course, one who is in tune with what is going on in the world of education.”

The 49-year-old Certified Public Accountant further justified his wish for a religious mentor saying, “I am looking for a religious person who is not involved in the day to day running of the University, this is especially to avoid a cyclical system of reporting because you cannot have somebody reporting to you and you are reporting to them, that wouldn’t work.”

He added, “People I have under me are already within the management structure. I know there are a lot of ways they are going to help me in the managerial activities and governance of the institution that is very well structured even within the statutes.”

TUC’s Consortium Trust members have been duly informed about Prof. Wang’ombe’s request. He disclosed during the Friday afternoon interview, “I am glad that the University trustees have already promised me that they are giving me that religious person and so I am safe.”

Since 1992 when the Nairobi-based Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) was granted a university charter in Kenya, the administratively autonomous TUC has been recognized as CUEA’s Constituent College particularly for academic-related matters.

However, TUC applied for its own university charter in 2013 following the change in the regulations around the governance of universities and constituent colleges as stipulated in Kenya’s University Act, 2012.  

Speaking to this process toward becoming a fully-fledged university, the VC designate told ACI Africa, “I must mention that getting a charter is my priority because for the many things we want to do cannot be done before we get a charter.”

“I know part of the reason why the charter has taken too long is the inconsistency and the instability of the leadership because when you have too much change-over, it becomes very difficult even for the regulatory authority since they need to deal with the person and I am not in a hurry to leave Tangaza,” he explained and added, “the previous VC designate who was transferred to CUEA was on the track but the change-over led to delay again.”

“I am joining Tangaza to make sure I build to the highest-level possible beginning with getting a charter,” the alumnus of Nairobi University said.

“Besides, engaging the regulatory authorities requires that we meet the compliance requirements, which many times are very clear since they give a table of what ought to be done and I want to make sure that within the shortest period of time we have met all the compliance requirements,” Prof. Wang’ombe said.

He disclosed, “I already had a discussion with the people involved and I know whatever is remaining is not too heavy or too demanding for us to get a charter, so I am hopeful that may be within a period of one year we should have a charter, because the hurdles I am seeing should really not take us more than a year.”

Expected to take up his new assignment in January 2020 from Br. Tom Kearney who has been at the helm of TUC leadership since late 2018, the multi-agency consultant highlighted his primary objectives and strategies for success.

“I prioritize quality education and this means we must produce quality graduates who make a difference in the society and also people who take care of themselves and families in a positive way,” Prof. Wang’ombe said and added, “I am also very keen on quality research output. Tis again is not just filling in shelves of libraries, which is a good thing but research which is providing solutions to the society’s problems.”

He continued, “Above all, I am very keen on service to community, that is providing the products that is produced out of research and teaching in the market in a commercial way and also serving the society by not only disseminating the knowledge we have to the people, but looking for opportunities through which we can exercise the application of that knowledge with the people.”

Prof. Wang’ombe who served as the Managing Director of Strathmore Research and Consultancy Company for 5 years concluded, “I am looking forward that by the time I leave Tangaza, I want it to be very well known in both academics and society.”

“Please help me welcome Professor Wang’ombe to Tangaza University College,” the Chancellor of TUC, Vincentian Fr. Gary Mueller stated in an email message shared with TUC family November 27 and added, “I believe that he is a wonderful addition to our administration and is the right kind of leader for us at this moment in our development.”


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]