By Michelle Anzaya
The United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) University Council Chairman Kris Ole-Senanu has announced the appointment of Professor Margee Ensign as the new substantive Vice-Chancellor of USIU-Africa with effect from September 1, 2022.
Prof. Ensign, who will be taking over from the USIU-Africa Interim Vice Chancellor Prof. Freida Brown, currently serves as the President of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola, where she served as President from 2010 to 2017. She was requested to return to AUN in 2021, having assumed the position of Vice-Chancellor (or President) of Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, from 2017 to 2021.
Speaking when he confirmed the appointment, Mr Ole-Senanu said Prof. Ensign has an outstanding track record with a stellar academic career, including 12 years as a successful Vice-Chancellor in Nigeria and in the US, where she was a formidable ambassador and successful fund-raiser.
Mr. Ole-Senanu paid a glowing tribute to the outgoing Interim Vice Chancellor Prof. Brown describing her return from her retirement stint as magnanimous facilitation that underpins her selfless service to USIU-Africa.
“The University Council is confident that Prof. Ensign’s experience leading two very different organizations as Vice Chancellor will enable her to address the challenges and opportunities for USIU-Africa,” Mr Ole-Senanu said, adding that, “She brings an undoubted commitment, passion and vision around deepening international and intercultural education in Africa: it has been at the heart of her teaching, research, publications, and administrative life, and has led her to experience working in numerous international environments including Rwanda, Uganda, and Nigeria.”
Prior to her AUN Vice Chancellorship, Prof. Ensign was Associate Provost for International Initiatives, Dean and Professor, School of International Studies, University of The Pacific (1999-2010), worked in Rwanda & Uganda (2003-9), and held administrative and faculty positions at Columbia and Tulane Universities.
While welcoming the appointment, Prof. Ensign exuded energy and optimism and said she was looking forward to the USIU-Africa tour of duty. At USIU-Africa, Prof. Ensign said she would deploy her leadership style and experience to foster a spirit of enthusiasm, collaboration and cooperation. “Building a sense of common purpose and a shared vision, both within the institution and in conjunction with its host community, is high on my agenda,” She said, adding that “One of the most rewarding parts of my academic leadership jobs in the USA and Nigeria focused on Social responsibility or ‘civic learning and action’ which are my key values and high priorities. At AUN, my mission was to create a “development university” in line with USIU-Africa’s focus on community and sustainable development.”
She confirmed her excitement at the tremendous potential of USIU-Africa to have a much more extensive reach.
Administratively, Prof. Ensign will work in close alignment with the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic & Student Affairs Prof. Munyae Mulinge and other members of the Management Board to oversee a broad spectrum of activities, including the five academic schools, student affairs, admissions, registration, library, faculty development, information technology, operations, and the implementation of the 2021-2026 strategic plan.
Prof. Ensign holds a PhD from the University of Maryland in International Politics and Economics. She is a well-respected scholar on development, on Africa, and – growing out of her experience in Rwanda – on genocide. Prof. Ensign is the author and editor of six books, including Rwanda: History and Hope and Confronting Genocide: Dehumanization, Denial, and Strategies for Prevention.
She has presented at numerous international fora, including the World Economic Forum, the American Council on Education, and US Congress. Most recently, she was a panel member at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum in Rwanda, which focused on gender equity and education. She has received many awards, including the Distinguished Leadership Award for Excellence in Education, the African Leading University of the Year, and the African Leadership Award from the World Center for Corporate Social Responsibility. She holds Honorary Doctorates from the American University of Paris and New College.