Moi University was established in 1984 by an Act of Parliament (Moi University Act, 1984) as the second public university in Kenya. This was on the recommendation of a Presidential Working Party, chaired by Prof. Collins B. Mackay, which had collected views from Kenyans about the desirability of the same. Courtesy of his deep and altruistic concern for and interest in the advancement of education at all levels in Kenya, not only as a professional teacher but as Kenya’s Head of State, President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi pioneered the idea of a university in a rural setting.
He, like most Kenyans, had good reasons for this. Among them was the need to decentralize higher education from Nairobi to other parts of the country. The former president felt time had come to create another university away from an urban environment. Not surprisingly Kenya’s second university bears his name. That is a modest tribute to a great and deserving Kenyan.
The University was, therefore established with an intention of making it a science, technology and development oriented institution which would focus on problems of rural development in its training and research programmes. The first group of students, 83 in total, was admitted on October 1, 1984 through a transfer, from the Department of Forestry of the University of Nairobi, which formed the initial one faculty in 1984. This group was housed and taught at Kaptagat Hotel since the new campus location had no buildings. The University Act of 1984 was repealed and replaced by the Universities Act No. 42 of 2012, which is the one in current use. Under this Act, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Science and Technology has considerable powers over the operations of both the public as well as private universities.
The University is located in Kesses, 35 kilometers from Eldoret Town, and 310 kilometers Northwest of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Moi University has expanded tremendously over the past decade and this can be attributed to the commitment of the entire Moi University fraternity, government investment, strategic partnerships, and the visionary leadership of the University Council and Management. These achievements are a testament to the resilience and fortitude of every faculty and staff member who enabled change at a pace and on a scale never experienced before in the country.
Since 1984, the University has experienced phenomenal growth leading to the establishment of several constituent colleges across the country, many of which have since grown to be fully fledged Universities namely Maseno University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), Maasai Mara University (Mmarau), University of Kabianga (UoK), University of Eldoret (UoE), Karatina University, Rongo University, Garissa University and Alupe University.
As facilities were developed and needs were recognized, new Schools were added, namely Science, Education, Arts and Social Sciences, Business and Economics, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Information Sciences, Human Resource Development, Engineering, Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, Dentistry, Law, Tourism, Hospitality and Events Management, Aerospace, Biological and Physical Sciences and Agricultural Sciences. Recently, with intent to harmonise programmes and optimize available scarce human resources, the University re-established the School of Post Graduate Studies and moved programmes previously under the School of Human Resource Development to the School of Information Sciences and School of Business and Economics. The former School of Human Resource Development has since been converted into the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Development Studies.
From 83 students in 1984, the University currently has a student population of 39,786 with a staff component of 3,000 being both academic and administrative. Currently, after one of its constituent colleges namely Alupe University College was elevated to a fully fledged University now Moi University has one constituent college namely Bomet University College (BUC). The University also had Odera Akang’o Campus College in Yala Town but following the harmonization and restructuring the campus was closed. In addition, the University had satellite campuses namely Kitale and Eldoret West Campuses which have since been closed but has maintained the following at present: Main Campus (Kesses), Nairobi Campus, Coast Campus, and Eldoret Town Campus.
With the new Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the repealing of the University Act of 1984, the Chancellorship of the universities changed, for the first time, from the Head of State to citizens that had distinguished themselves in their professional careers and contribution to national development. The University Act of 2012 gave the mandate and powers to the Commission for University Education (CUE) over the governance of public and private universities on matters of general policy on higher education. Since its inception, Moi University has undergone a number of transformations regarding its governance and operations since the first Moi University Act (No. 10) of 1984. Among the provisions of the Act, the Chancellorship of the university was vested in the Head of State. The Chancellor, under the Act, was given the authority to appoint the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and College Principals.
Courses offered at Moi University