Exclusive Interview with Dr. Timonthy Wachira, Daystar University Vice Chancellor

In October, Dr. Timothy Wachira, the Vice Chancellor of Daystar University, welcomed all Daystar alumni living in the United States to the new USA Alumni Network with an encouraging conference call. In this call, outlined below, he provided updates on current university projects and answered alumni questions. 

Dr. Timothy Wachira gave a compelling commencement speech at the 2016 June graduation ceremony.

Dr. Timothy Wachira gave a compelling commencement speech at the 2016 June graduation ceremony.

Daystar U.S.: Thank you for joining us, Dr. Wachira, we are pleased to host you today. Can you share with us what scripture passage has been on your mind lately?

 

Dr. Wachira: I’ve been encouraged by Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  The main purpose of this transformed mind is to uncover the will of God. Especially in the educational realm, we are aiming for students to understand God’s will for their life and their future during their time at Daystar. Without a mind transformed by the Word of God, they will not be able to discern God’s will.

 

Daystar U.S.: We would like you to tell us a bit more about the Daystar University Alumni Association and some of the recent movements of that group in Nairobi. We understand that Omeno Suji, Florence Koros, John Theuri, Urbanus Kissiu, and Catherine Butaki have formed a strong board of directors and have different events going on.

 

Dr. Wachira: Yes I want to appreciate Omeno Suji’s board, for they have been on for more than a year, actually going on three years. And they’ve brought in new energy, focus, and commitment. I want to thank this board. But I am excited, especially about Daystar’s tradition of appreciating the class that finished 20 years prior at every graduation. This year we appreciated the Class of 1996; we called them to come to Nairobi so that we could individually and collectively acknowledge them at graduation. Just that act of meeting together and coming to the Athi River campus prompted them to celebrate their 20 years since graduation, and they did that through a tree planting ceremony. I suppose that is what led them to reflect on what Daystar has been to them. To cut the story short, they have committed themselves to funding two student scholarships every year. May I take this opportunity to thank them very much for that.

The class of 1996 gathered together at the Athi River campus to celebrate their 20th graduation anniversary. 

The class of 1996 gathered together at the Athi River campus to celebrate their 20th graduation anniversary. 

The Daystar University Alumni Association (DUAA) Board Chair Mr. Omeno Suji presents the Vice Chancellor with a check on behalf of the Class of 1996, who pooled their resources to fund two student scholarships. 

The Daystar University Alumni Association (DUAA) Board Chair Mr. Omeno Suji presents the Vice Chancellor with a check on behalf of the Class of 1996, who pooled their resources to fund two student scholarships. 

The Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Dr. James Kombo, stands with the two beneficiary students, together with their sponsors, the Class of 1996, represented by Ms. Catherine Butaki (second left) and Mr. George Menge (second right).

The Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Dr. James Kombo, stands with the two beneficiary students, together with their sponsors, the Class of 1996, represented by Ms. Catherine Butaki (second left) and Mr. George Menge (second right).

Daystar U.S.: Can you capture for a moment the importance of Daystar alumni?

 

Dr. Wachira: The alumni are the reason for the existence of Daystar. Daystar does not exist simply to provide any profits, nor does Daystar exist to simply employ people, or to do anything other than producing graduates who go out into the world as transforming agents. Therefore, what the alumni do drives the existence of Daystar. If the alumni do negative things, then Daystar has no reason to exist. But when they are doing great things, it provides us with a reason for existing. We are excited about our alumni and the great things they are doing. It makes us want to bless the Lord every day for them. But we also want to encourage them to keep it on and focus their minds on God and the work of transforming this world.

There are many that would want to join the alumni, but they struggle. I am reminded now of Victor Odhiambo Ochuoga. Victor Odhiambo is just about in his final year and he is struggling with finances. Victor Odhiambo is a great young man who has been committed in his Christian life, in service to Daystar, and service to humanity. We want to encourage the alumni—this is one case that you can pick up and help. He needs just $1,600 in order to complete his studies. This is an opportunity to rally behind those who are struggling because there are a number of them. Victor is a representation of all of them and shows how little the amount of support is sometimes needed. It means so much to those students if you could remember your days.

Victor Odhiambo Ochuoga is in his final year at Daystar University studying communication and electronic media. He is only $1,600 short of fully funding his education and graduating in June 2017.

Victor Odhiambo Ochuoga is in his final year at Daystar University studying communication and electronic media. He is only $1,600 short of fully funding his education and graduating in June 2017.


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Daystar University alumna Isabella, Class of 2003: That’s a cause that’s very dear to my heart because I was in that same position. I’ve wanted for a long time to set up a scholarship fund [to help other students]. I can say again that it is a cause that’s very near and dear to my heart. I definitely want to do that someday. Can you tell us how much the tuition is right now for a full time student?

 

Dr. Wachira: For a student to be helped in their education at Daystar for the four years, residing at the Athi River campus, is $6,000 per year to support their tuition and board. To provide support for Victor, you can go to www.DaystarUS.org, click on “Donate” in the upper right-hand corner of the page. You will receive an email confirmation after the donation. In this way, the donation is made easy; Daystar U.S. is committed to keeping you informed on how your donation is being used. If you want to be committed to a particular student, Daystar U.S. is a vehicle for that. The staff at Daystar U.S. commits themselves to continually giving semester updates.

 

Daystar U.S.: Tell us a bit more about some of the events and progress that has gone on at the university in the past year or so.

 

Dr. Wachira: It’s a great joy for me to say that Daystar has continued to grow. We now have a student population of 5,500. We are confident that in the next 5 years we will be just shy of 10,000 students.

We just received a new chancellor, but unlike before where the position of the chancellor was combined with the chair of the university council, the two positions are now separate. The chairman of the university council is Professor George Krhoda. Professor George Krhoda serves in Nairobi. The chancellor of the university is Professor Mary Murimi. The unique thing about Professor Mary Murimi is that she teaches at Texas Tech University here in the United States. That’s exciting! Her location does not limit her work because, being a titular position, her main role will be granting the diplomas and degrees during graduation, among other duties. There is an advantage for the alumni here in the US in that there are greater opportunities for meetings with the chancellor nearer to Texas.

Chancellor Mary Murimi (left) was inaugurated at the 2016 graduation ceremony. Dr. George Krhoda serves as the Daystar University Council Chariman.

Chancellor Mary Murimi (left) was inaugurated at the 2016 graduation ceremony.
Dr. George Krhoda serves as the Daystar University Council Chariman.

Dr. Wachira: We are launching a law program early next year. We are very excited about that and the prospect of its impact in the country and the continent in providing lawyers and people of legal fraternity and integrity.

We are also launching Daystar Mobile. Daystar Mobile is a mobile platform for eLearning that we believe will open up eLearning in places even without internet-capable computers, but just a simple connection on smartphones. People will be able to access quality Daystar University education. We are piloting this program now and will be launching it in a very short while – likely next year, specifically for the education program (to provide an education degree for prospective teachers).

The final thing that I want to mention here—which I think will resonate well with most of the graduates that have gone through the Athi River campus—is that we are grateful to God for the water project, which has, in short term, been able to provide 90-100% of the water needs of the university. But we recognize that this is only for a short time, because the water is still being provided by Mavoko County, whom we’ve partnered with to provide a water pump in order to increase the flow of water to Athi River. The growth around Athi River—for those who have been away for a long time—has been tremendous! You almost would not be able to recognize it now, as we are going all the way to Lukenya. We therefore know that water will continue being an issue. We have also put in a new borehole at the Athi River campus, but even this we know will still not suffice. We have raised the funds to reconstruct the dams in a way that they can provide water on a continuous basis now and for the future to adequately supply the Athi River campus. What is more exciting—we intend to restructure the beauty of the Athi River campus as we reconstruct these dams to provide places of recreation. We encourage the Daystar alumni, as they visit Kenya, to also get in touch with us; we will provide them with an opportunity to visit Daystar’s Athi River campus—and we are sure this is a visit that they’ll be pleased with.

A clean, reliable water supply for the Athi River campus remains an issue; however, plans and funds are in place to resolve this through a new dam and rainwater catchment system. 

A clean, reliable water supply for the Athi River campus remains an issue; however, plans and funds are in place to resolve this through a new dam and rainwater catchment system. 

Dr. Wachira: The Athi Road, unfortunately—if you can remember the Athi River Road—is still exactly the same! We have made great, great, great efforts to work with the government to develop this road. I want to take the opportunity to thank Catherine Butaki, with whom I have worked on this project, as she is in the Ministry of Roads. She has always followed up the case for me. The road has always been scheduled for construction funding, but we seem to always miss it. I would ask if any alumni listening to this conversation now have any persons of influence within the ministry and are able to get in touch with them that we could combine our efforts to work with the government to get these roads constructed. But for us and the leadership at Daystar—the DVCs and I—as we continue praying for it, we have come to recognize that it is by the word of Jesus. When the Lord commands this road to be made, it shall be made, and we trust and continue to plead with Him for it to be made.”

 

Daystar U.S.: One alumnus asks, “What is the student population now at Daystar and what is the current admissions process?”

 

Dr. Wachira: The current student population is now 5,500. The current admissions process has not changed significantly. The main thing that has changed, one could say, is the requirement for a student to give their testimony. With time we recognized that many people lied about their faith in order to come to the university, and unfortunately the pastors (who were asked to give those students a letter of recommendation) were being taken for a ride—they were signing for people they didn’t even know. We found it hypocritical to continue perpetrating this lie. On the other hand, a new constitution came up (issued by the government) that required universities to be completely nondiscriminatory on every basis, and we recognized that this posed an opportunity for us to take a new direction. We now are committed that all students recognize that they are coming to a Christian university; they must recognize that there is a code of conduct within the university; they must recognize that they are required to attend chapel, Bible study, and prayer meetings; and they must also recognize that the teaching at Daystar is Biblically based and includes Bible courses. There is no exception to any student regarding these requirements. Daystar is committed to evangelism, so there can be no questions asked about that by students or their parents. The students are asked to confirm with their signature that they recognize these things and they are committed to them. I must say that has changed a few things. One change is that evangelism is now a commitment of the university—and not only evangelism, but also discipleship of those who are new believes. About 15-20 students are saved every semester and are discipled for the next three months. It has been exciting to hear the testimonies of those who get saved and are discipled to grow in their Christian faith. So that is the little change that has occurred, but the university’s commitment, vision, and mission remain the same. Because the staff are mission- and vision-drivers, we are highly committed to a people who know Jesus and are able to drive the mission and vision of Daystar University.

 

Daystar U.S.: Another asks, “Are there any opportunities for Daystar alumni to teach at the university?”

 

Dr. Wachira: For all those listening and have advanced in your education, and you think that at one stage or another when you’re visiting Kenya you would want to come and do some teaching, I would encourage you to send your names and CV to VC@Daystar.ac.ke, even if you do not have specific plans for now. Tell us that you are working in the USA but you occasionally come to Kenya and would want to be involved in teaching. And especially those who are already teaching here in the US or are involved in jobs that give you experience that you recognize as valuable to contribute back to the university. If you contact us, we will be able to address your request not as a generic matter but as an individual, unique opportunity. The opportunities vary depending on what one has studied, what they currently do, and what experiences and abilities they can bring back. In general, let me say that it would be just great! It would be exciting, and I can say that I would much rather have my own alumni coming to feed back to Daystar University rather than others whom we also receive to come teach.

Applied computer science and management information system majors returned to Daystar in September 2016 to host a mentoring and learning seminar for current students.

Applied computer science and management information system majors returned to Daystar in September 2016 to host a mentoring and learning seminar for current students.

Alumnus Dr. Bright Gameli was among the IT alumni to give his testimony and encourage current IT students to continue in their studies despite difficulties. 

Alumnus Dr. Bright Gameli was among the IT alumni to give his testimony and encourage current IT students to continue in their studies despite difficulties. 

Daystar U.S.: Will an individual in the United States be able to participate Daystar Mobile?

 

Dr. Wachira: When Daystar Mobile takes off well, it is supposed to be global. For now we are focusing on Kenya, and we will know exactly where we can serve by this time next year. After that we will be branching out to other places. The main hindrance to going global at the outset is being able to formulate an examination method that is helpful. For now we are focusing on Kenya, but our plans will be global.

 

Daystar U.S.: We thank Dr. Wachira for sharing such a thorough update on the university. He wishes God’s blessings on the alumni living in the USA and worldwide and feels privileged to serve a university that equips its graduates to make a difference—a fact that is constantly proving true.

 

Click here to download Dr. Wachira’s full audio report.