President Emeritus O'Neal to lead Rwanda state universities

Mike O'Neal and Rwandan president Paul Kagame
Mike O'Neal and Rwandan president Paul Kagame

By Mike Ssegawa
For The Oklahoman

Butare, Rwanda - Oklahoma academic Mike O’Neal has been appointed to head university education in Rwanda.

O’Neal, a former president of Oklahoma Christian University, has been named chancellor of the University of Rwanda, the umbrella institution under which all state universities in the country fall.

Rwanda, a country that got the world’s attention when more than 800,000 people were killed in a genocide that pitted one ethnic community against another, has risen from the ashes under President Paul Kagame, who announced O’Neal’s appointment this week.

The government says O’Neal will not get involved in the day-to-day operations of the institution, but will rather be the advocate for its vision and advancement.

“It’s not like what we would think of as a president here,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal said his role will be largely ceremonial, presiding at graduation ceremonies and other events. He only agreed to take the position on the condition that he would be able to help move higher education in Rwanda forward, he said. He will continue to live in Oklahoma.

Under his leadership at Oklahoma Christian, many Rwandan students got support and sponsorships.

The university offers a master of business administration program in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city.