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Siverts favourite for NUL top job

Staff Reporter

MASERU — Professor Sharon Siverts, an American academic, is likely to be announced the next vice chancellor of the troubled National University of Lesotho (NUL) despite coming second in the race for the job.

The Sunday Express can reveal that Siverts, who resigned from the University of Botswana in February 2003 after drama-filled five years as the vice-chancellor, came second to Professor Jill Slay of Australia.

A NUL council member who attended a meeting over the university’s top job on Friday morning said the selection panel submitted the list of the best three candidates with Slay as the first preference.

Siverts was the second choice while former NUL acting vice chancellor Professor Mafa Sejanamane came third.

Jill had a 78 percent score for her oral interview, psychometric test and public presentation.

Siverts had 77 percent while Sejanamane had 73.

A psychometric test measures knowledge, ability, attitude and personality traits.

The test was carried out by the University of Free State’s department of psychology which lists the government of Lesotho among its clients.

The source however said the selection panel told the council that Slay, a professor of forensic computing working as dean of research at the University of South Australia, had attached some conditions if she were to take up the job.

“Slay told the selection panel that she can only take up the NUL job if her family moves to Lesotho as well,” the source said.

“Her husband, a civil engineer, has since applied for a job with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) so they can move to Lesotho.”

What complicates the situation, the source said, “is that NUL has no control over who the LHWP employs so Slay might not move after all”.

“The other problem is that Professor Slay will only be available in January yet the university wants the position filled immediately.”

The job was left vacant following the death of former vice chancellor Professor Adelani Ogunrinade in April this year.

The source said Siverts told the selection panel that she was readily available to take up the post.

“Unless something dramatic happens the job is likely to go to Siverts,” he said.

The council has since sent the list of the preferred candidates to the minister of education ‘Mamphono Khaketla who will in turn make recommendations to NUL chancellor, King Letsie III, for final approval and appointment.

The source explained that apart from the complications with Slay’s appointment there was also concern that she had never held the position of vice chancellor before.

Siverts, on the other hand, had worked as a vice chancellor for the University of Botswana and has had stints in the Middle East.

She is a renowned educationist with 25 years’ experience in tertiary education administration. 

Siverts holds a Master of Science degree from Ohio University in the United States.

She is credited with turning around the University of Botswana although her reign was characterised by student unrest.

After her appointment in February 1998, Siverts abolished the posts of registrar and bursar.

Her decisions to privatise the bookshop and other services triggered protests from the students but she prevailed.

During her stint the number of students at the university increased from about 7 000 to 12 000.

Officials on the NUL recruitment panel are said to have been quite impressed by what she did at the University of Botswana.

The source said most of the council members were attracted by her connections in the international academic and corporate world.

They believe she might help raise funds to pull NUL out of its current financial mess.

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