MASERU – American professor Sharon Siverts will start her job as the new vice chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) on March 7.
Siverts (65) signed a five-year contract with the NUL on Wednesday from Oregon, US, according to official sources at the university.
The former University of Botswana vice-chancellor is scheduled to arrive in Lesotho next Sunday.
Siverts, who has 25 years of experience in tertiary education beat three other candidates in interviews held in January.
The position fell vacant after Professor Adelani Ogunrinade died last year.
A holder of a Master of Science degree in Education from Ohio University in the United States, Siverts resigned from the University of Botswana in February 2003 after drama-filled years as the vice-chancellor.
She is credited with turning around the fortunes of the University of Botswana although her stint was characterised by student unrest.
Critics at that time questioned why she had been appointed ahead of other local candidates.
After her appointment in February 1998 Siverts abolished the posts of registrar and bursar at the University of Botswana.
Her decisions to privatise the bookshop and other services triggered protests from the students but she prevailed.
During her stint the enrolment of students at the university increased from about 7 000 to 12 000.
NUL council sources say the
recruitment panel was impressed by her international exposure
which they believe will help the
institution raise funds for new courses and research.
Siverts’ immediate task, council members say, is to revive the university and find ways of improving its finances which are shambolic.
She is also expected to come up with a vision to take the university forward.
NUL is currently facing a serious financial crisis caused mainly by poor management and failure to live within its means.
Apart from grappling with a M39 million budget deficit, the university has also been forced to fund operations through a bank overdraft.
Staff and student unrests have also battered the university’s once squeaky clean reputation.
So has its failure to account for money it has received from the government over the past six years.
The council is also worried that the university’s curriculum is failing to meet Lesotho’s human resources needs.