Advocate Esi Schimming-Chase, founding chairperson of the Namibia University of Science and Technology, comes from a family that holds education in high regard, a trait which she sees as her tool to transform the university into a performance driven institution that produces quality graduates. Schimming-Chase, who will be deputized by Goms Menethe, has admitted that she has little insight regarding the internal affairs but has vowed to use her prior experience help the institution.“I am coming in cold and I do not know what happened before our time, therefore I will work hard to ensure that I learn the processes, observe, be patient and not make quick judgements before listening to all sides,” she said in a telephonic interview after her election as chair this week.
Schimming-Chase underscored that producing quality graduates must top NUST’s agenda to ensure that graduates are employed based on their competence and ability to perform. “I did well for myself through blood, sweat and tears so nobody can claim I got to where I am because I know someone or because I am a woman but because of my performance. My vision is to see NUST graduates getting jobs because they can perform. I want to introduce a performance generated outlook on life where things don’t just come to us without working for it. I know it will not be easy but I am a proponent of education,” she concluded. She said she also wants to see a situation whereby private companies approach the university and presenting possible employment opportunities for graduates.
“We have to generate competence, if I walk into a room my competence must be the reason why I have that job, that’s the brand I want our graduates to have….of course all this will not happen overnight,” she noted. Asked what Namibian tertiary institutions can do to start competing globally with their counterparts, Schimming-Chase responded: “The starting point is quality teachers and hardworking students. It is up to the students to make their mark by competing instead of settling for anything, In my life I worked hard and I played hard, but I think today we play too hard, we need to start competing and the desire should be the top spot.” “The Minister’s strategies made clear on 23 August 2016 are that council must provide the expertise and commitment and willingness to contribute to the development of the NUST community. Those are my objectives. And the objectives of council. They can only be achieved with council exercising teamwork and the same goals . My strategy is to develop that teamwork and nurture the execution of those objectives. My brand is to be competent, because that makes me relevant,” she highlighted.
Many people are keen to see if the new Council will avoid ending up like their predecessors who were divided over issues related to alleged corruption at the institution; in-fight between the vice chancellor Professor Tjama Tjivikua and his deputy Dr. Andrew Niikondo, the continued serving of Dr. Gert Gunzel despite him being a decade past the mandatory retirement age of 65, Tjivikua’s marathon tenure at the helm of the institution and the fact that Niikondo continues to work without an employment contract since last year. Schimming-Chase and Tjivikua relations The new Council is barely two months into their three-year tenure and already detractors have started making claims related to conflict of interest, seeing that Schimming-Chase and NUST vice –chancellor Professor Tjama Tjivikua are related. Schimming-Chase is however not bothered by such claims, saying: “Most Otjiherero speaking people are related. Firstly, I respected the vice-chancellor’s work ethics even before I was appointed to serve on this Council, my first responsibility is towards NUST and I will always listen to all sides. As an Advocate we are required to be ethical and if there was a [Council]member who thought I cannot serve on the Council because of the relations they ought to have raised it.”
“We are not talking about a perfect organization, but rather a transparent one and I am a transparent person. Therefore, if people think the relations between us should stop me from being chair than Hereros should not work in the same institutions because most of us are related. You cannot deny the fact that he is well educated and that he worked hard because NUST produces good students,” she said. According to the council chair: “If people are unhappy with me being on the council they can request the Minister to remove me, I am providing a service and I am making use of my time to help in an environment which I cherish so much and I believe I can be a good role model for young people.” The other council members are Markus von Jeney, Samuel Januarie, Michael Mutonga, Maureen Kambala, Goms Menette, Linda Aipinge, Dr. Raimo Naanda, Dr. Michael Humavindu and Kondjeni Nkandi. The Council is the ultimate governing body of the University. It is responsible for the efficient management and conduct of the affairs of the University, including finances and property.