May 10, 2012Vol. 42, Issue 6

James Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr.: Outstanding Staff Employee of the Year

It is a long way from the islands of Ssesse located in Lake Victoria in the kingdom of Buganda to Chico, California. Much has transpired since James Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr. left Ssesse for the first time almost 50 years ago. After 40 years at CSU, Chico, first in the Office of Counseling and Testing, and then in the Office of International Education, he has been chosen as the Outstanding Staff Employee of the Year. It is an honor well deserved, as his record of service, his broad responsibilities, and glowing letters of support attest.

Office of International Education staff from left, top: Marsha Osborne, Steve Wildhaber, James Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr., Donna Warnock, Cindy Kelly. Bottom: Jennifer Gruber, Maria Olson.

His service extends beyond campus. At its 2011 Annual Placement Conference, the National Student Exchange (NSE) awarded Luyirika-Sewagudde Jr. its Exemplary Service Award. NSE, a domestic parallel to study-abroad, with exchange sites at 182 university members in the United States and Canada, is one of Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr.’s responsibilities.

He implemented NSE at Chico State 30 years ago and has served as the program’s only coordinator for the campus. During his tenure with NSE, James served two terms on its governing board. The service-award citation praised Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr. for heading one of the most efficient and effective NSE programs in the consortium. He has provided domestic exchange opportunities for close to 2,000 Chico students and has hosted a commensurate number of students at Chico in return. The citation noted that by making Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr. the first recipient of the award, NSE was acknowledging that he provides the “gold standard” for others in the consortium.

In 2004, Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr. was also honored as a Fulbright Scholar to South Africa. He was interested in researching how things had changed since the end of apartheid in 1994. He was especially interested in shifts in individuals’ identities. He said that he was not prepared for the contrasts in wealth that he encountered—opulence in some quarters and extreme poverty in others. An avid photographer, he chronicled his journey. One of those photographs—a small boy squatting outside a dwelling in an impoverished area—is on his office wall. “I went through all of the emotions that are possible while I was there,” he said. “I was deeply struck by the focus on reconciliation, an attitude taken from Mandela himself, rather than on feelings of anger and retribution.”

“Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr. is a key member of the Office of International Education,” wrote Bill Loker, dean of Undergraduate Education. “He is, and has been, a phenomenal international student advisor these past 40 years, advising thousands of students. His quality of service, dedication, technical knowledge and judgment make him an invaluable campus resource. James is always there when other staff have problems or need advice or assistance.”
three men posing for picture. james, in the middle, holds his award
Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr. works closely with a range of offices in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, including Enrollment Management, Financial Services, the Office of the Registrar, Academic Advising Services, the Student Health Center, Counseling and Wellness, and the Student Learning Center. He has led cross-cultural communications workshops for the Office of International Education to promote understanding and build relationships. He is a member of the campus Emergency Preparedness Team and serves on a variety of critical committees to expand and enhance our international programs.

The following comments were submitted by his colleagues in nomination letters for the award:

  • “…compassionate and respectful in manner.”
  • “…a person of wisdom who merits our respect.”
  • “…culturally sensitive.”
  • “…ready and willing to share expertise.”
  • “…working tirelessly to help and guide students.”
  • “...someone with a strong sense of responsibility in carrying out duties.”
  • “…someone who has exceptional stamina and often goes above and beyond the call of duty to help students and colleagues.”
  • “…a highly effective and enthusiastic ambassador for Chico State and the USA.”
  • “…someone who embodies life-long learning and professional development.”
  • “…someone who epitomizes the spirit and dedication of the staff at Chico State.”

In his presentation remarks, President Zingg said, “James has a beautiful smile for all he meets and greets. He is a man of great wisdom, and is well known throughout the region and the international community—our campus ambassador of respect and good will.” ■

—Kathleen McPartland, Public Affairs and Publications