In  2001 a Technical Task Force was appointed to set up the University. Because of the insecurity in Gulu at the time, the Team set up a temporary office at Lincoln Flat 4 at Makerere University. The Task Force consisted of Dr. J.H. Pen Mogi Nyeko , Prof. Mary. J.N. Okwakol ,Dr. Stephen Tikodri , and Mr. N. Peter Egwel Odyomo. The office relocated to Gulu in early 2002.

The Ministerial Policy Statement of the Ministry of Education and Sports' of June 2001 was presented to members of the Task Force. In the first meeting of the Task Force, members noted that the Policy Statement on page 26 stated as follows "The process leading to the preparation of the Master Plan for the University of Agriculture and Environment Science (UAES), in Northern Uganda, is underway. Temporary premises for the UAES were identified at Gulu District Farm Institute. The Task Force Management Committee (TFMC) for UAES has been appointed and a curriculum for the study courses at this University is now ready".
In the same Policy Statement, under Higher Education planned tasks for FY 2001/2002, page 70 it was stated "work with TFMC, which has been appointed to kick-start UAES, Gulu to prepare for the 1st intake of the University in October 2001".  This point was emphasized further on page 143 as follows: "Operationalise the University by October 2001, admit students for the first intake in June 2001, and provide basic facilities such as: three vehicles, furnishing administrative block, five computers with accessories and refurbishing existing structures.
The Ministry seeked authority to spend 557,228,000 million on Gulu University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences in FY 2001/2002 under budget line ED26 (B) Annex 4, page 9".
A budget of 557,228,000= only was provided for starting the University with students on campus. The Task Force was not given time to plan for infrastructure development and buy the necessary requirements for starting a University. It was assumed that the DFI buildings were sufficient to start the University. When the team visited the DFI, they found that there were not enough buildings for starting the University. They immediately seeked authority from the Ministry of Education and Sport to allow them construct temporary buildings for the University.
The permission was granted by the Permanent Secretary and they constructed the present temporary structures at the University.
The Ministerial Policy stated that the University become operational by October and the intake in June 2001. The team thought of writing to the Minister that technically it was not possible to start the University by October.
But politically they knew such a letter would work against the Task Force. They agreed that instead they should present themselves as being ready to start the University by October 2001.
The team quickly worked out an additional budget of over 900,000,000 Million which was presented to the Ministry. To show that they were prepared to start the University by October 2001, they advertised for positions of teaching and non teaching staff early July 2001.According to the founding Vice-Chancellor of the University Prof.  Jack Nyeko Penmogi ,they didn’t want to be blamed for not starting the University, yet they knew that starting the University in October 2001 was a myth.
The Ministry scheduled a meeting with the Task Force late July to discuss the budget of Gulu University. The Ministry was clear that it was not possible to raise the additional 900,000,000= that was presented and went further to suggest that the University would not be able to open by October 2001. The Ministry was therefore the one responsible to explain to Parliament why Gulu University could not open by October 2001 as stated in the Ministerial Policy Statement.
The  strategy worked in favour of the team and avoided a situation where the Minister would tell Parliament that the  Task Force was the one not ready to start the University by October 2001. 
In October 2002 the University opened at the District Farm Institute located on Awich Street in Laroo Division, Gulu Municipality now Gulu City . The University opened with the Faculty of Science Education and Institute Human Resource Development offering following courses;
  • Bachelor of Science Education,
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education,
  • Diploma in Computer Science,
  • Bachelor of Business Administration,
  • Bachelor of Development Studies,
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Management,
  • Diploma in Secretarial and Information Management, and
  • Diploma in Development Studies.
Initially, the University was named Gulu University of Agriculture and Environmental Science and was to specialize in agricultural mechanization. However, it was later proposed that the University should widen its scope beyond agricultural mechanization and produce high-level human resource that can effectively participate in solving the social and economic problems of the country. It was then renamed Gulu University.From 2002 the University steadily increased its intake, faculties, and programmes due to the demand to satisfy practical needs regionally, nationally, and internationally.
The University now has six faculties and two institutes:
  • Faculty of Medicine,
  • Faculty of Agriculture and Environment,
  • Faculty of Science,
  • Faculty of Education and Humanities,
  • Faculty of Business and Development Studies,
  • Faculty of Law,
  • Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, and
  • Institute of Research ,Graduate Studies and Staff Development

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Laroo Division, Gulu City

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