Missionary lecturer narrates how he set up UCU moot court infrastructure
By Kefa Senoga
“Our law students are participating in the John H. Jackson Moot Court competition in Geneva. They are among the four teams representing Africa after defeating 28 universities in Africa.” That was a tweet posted by the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Twitter handle on June 25, 2020.
In 2022, the team participated in the global competition, which is a simulated hearing under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system involving exchanges of written submissions and adversarial hearings before panelists on international trade law issues. In the last seven years, the UCU moot court team has also won the annual inter-university competition in Uganda four times, making news about any success in the event commonplace.
The success of the university’s teams in the moot court competitions is not by accident. As early as 2008, Dennison Brian, a Christian missionary from the USA, laid the groundwork for such achievements. Dennison, who was a lecturer in the UCU Faculty of Law from 2008 to 2015, made it his preoccupation to grow the moot court program in the university.
As a lecturer in the faculty, Dennison was involved in a series of activities, such as moot court coaching and coordinating the development of clinical legal education as well as launching the legal ethics class. He also was credited for transforming the admissions process in the law faculty, which has since become a school.
During an email interview from Savannah, Georgia, USA, Dennison said because he worked with bright, energetic, and appreciative students, they made it easy for him as the moot court coach to impart real-world experience, knowledge, and skills to students. He said in the process, he also was able to travel to the competitions with the students to provide on-site coaching.
Some of the beneficiaries of the infrastructure that Dennison set up is Evelyn Mugisha, who was named the Best African Orator in this year’s John H. Jackson World Trade Organization (WTO) African moot court competitions conducted in March. Mugisha, alongside her teammates, Tracy Nagasha and Hannah Stacey Baluka, all final-year law students at UCU, represented the university and were among the best four teams in Africa that qualified for the global competition that took place in Geneva in June 2022.
“UCU demonstrates that you can be committed to Christ, to positive change, and to academic excellence,” Dennison explained.
As a law scholar, Dennison revealed that he is proud and privileged to have worked with the UCU law faculty, most especially the students.
“I am humbled by the great things that my former students are doing in legal practice, public service, and academia,” Dennison said, noting that all this is possible because of the UCU law program’s commitment to teaching ingenuity, practical skill development, and mentorship, which sets the school apart.
Dennison was born in Augusta, Georgia, which is 126 miles from his current residence in Savannah. He said that while growing up, he had a childhood with a loving family and many opportunities to attend church and participate in sports. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Business Administration and juris doctorate (cum laude) from the University of Georgia, USA.