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Strathmore University’s Journey

Strathmore University’s inception is a story rich in vision and determination, and who better to let us in on snippets of its’ early years, than Dr. James Boyd McFie, Director,  Strathmore’s  School of Accountancy (SOA) and one of Strathmore school’s alumni, it’s a story full of hope. 


How did Strathmore begin?


It began on 15th March 1961 when the doors were opened to the first 60 students, O levels graduands, who were joining the Strathmore Advanced ‘A’ Level (the Higher School Certificate).


A few years after Kenya gained its independence, the school board of trustees felt that there was a tremendous need to grow the number of accountants from the few African accountants available in the newly independent state. With the A’ Level program that Strathmore had been running well, coupled with sound advise by a number of professionals in the Accounting field, Strathmore took the opportunity to start an accounting class with a group of 25 students in 1966. The number of students interested in taking the course increased as the program became popular across the country.

Strathmore offered boarding facilities for up-country students using a students’ residence.


As years went by, Nairobi, a growing capital by then increasingly became an expensive town to live and operate, and Strathmore decided to discontinue its boarding facilities. In 1974, the boarding option was discontinued due to  cost of living in Nairobi rising; therefore Strathmore opted to start evening classes in a big way to attract more students from Nairobi, who would in turn support the number of up-country students they had before the cost increase.


1982 saw the start of the first evening classes at the Shell BP House building, (currently the Office of the Vice-President) and later on moved the evening classes from town to Strathmore College (now Strathmore School). A large percentage of accountants who qualified for the course at the time went through this program, the likes of Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director Equity Bank and ex-Managing Director Kenya Commercial Bank Dr. Martin Oduor-Otieno among others, who took the courses while working in big consulting firms like KPMG, PriceWaterHouse Coppers etc.


Strathmore board of trustees then realized that ‘A’ level was going to be abolished in Kenya in 1989, and as a result there was need to concentrate on diversifying the school’s students in other fields. With this in mind, 1977 saw the start of the first form one classes at Strathmore Secondary School. The secondary school became very popular as they topped national exams in Kenya, hence encouraged the board of trustees to gain confidence to start a primary section, Strathmore Primary School.


With the primary & secondary schools running, the limitation of space was now real for all the three entities. Fortunately, the Kenyan government donated a 5 acre piece of land in Madaraka area, while the European Union granted funds to put up the first constructions for what we refer to as Phase 1. The Strathmore Education Trustees and Kianda Foundation, (which was then running Kianda Secretarial College) agreed to relocate their 2 colleges to the new Madaraka location in 1992. This was now called Strathmore College.


Shortly after, the trustees realized that a number of private universities were coming up; this made them seek approval to become a university from the Commission for Higher Education (CHE). The process was daunting as the requirements at the time were very rigid. One requirement was for the school to own 50 acres piece of land which was not available. They decided to acquire land from the neighborhood in madaraka in different sections to fulfill this requirements. They were successful and thus accomplished one requirement.


The school still needed to fulfill another requirement on courses, and because the courses offered only included professional courses, the decision to offer degrees in collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in 2001 was made. Soon after, the Interim Authority letter from CHE was granted and this allowed Strathmore to now start its own degree programs in Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Business Information Technology being pioneer courses. Over the years, this program offering has grown to almost 18 academic programmes. The charter was finally granted in 2008, enabling Strathmore to be a fully fledged institution.


For more courses, visit www.strathmore.edu


Role of Opus Dei at Strathmore

Opus Dei, is a personal Prelature, and is recognized under the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The aim of Opus Dei, founded by St. Josemaria Escrivá, is to operate in every country in the world emphasizing the fact that work done is purely done for the glory of God.With this in mind individuals, strive to offer their work to God.


Strathmore A’ Level College was started by a group of people, some were members of Opus Dei and others were not. They agreed to run the school with the Opus Dei spirit with the main function being to guarantee that the spiritual doctrinal teachings in the school are in line with the Catholic faith; these include following the Law of God and providing a spiritual assistance in line with the university and in Moral teaching.


On the role of Sports

Dr. McFie would give a biased opinion on sports based on his past as an active sportsman, however, he believes that sports is an integral component of any learning institution because; it provides opportunities to network and encourages the meeting of new people, it creates the team player spirit because students get to learn to interact in teams, it gives one a sense of purpose and discipline, it shows whether an individual will be a good leader or not and lastly it is a good way to keep fit.

He believes that young people have the time to engage in sports and therefore should strive to participate in this.


Dr. McFie’s Legacy

While working at Ernest and Young, a position he feels was a God-given opportunity, Dr. McFie learnt the art of working to perfection. With this in mind, his desire is to ensure that he is the best teacher in the subjects he teaches, an attribute he has also learnt from his mother.


His advice to the students, “if we all do our work well, we make Kenya work.”


“Whatever you do, do it excellently. Do not do well in academics then fail when in the work environment because you are joking around.  Work excellently at all times,” he concluded.


In McFie’s words, watch the video below…