Inaugural Speech for the New President of the University of Liberia

Theme: BRIGHTENING THE LIGHT – Light in the Darkness (Lux in Tenebris)

Your Excellency, Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Republic of Liberia and Visitor of the University.

The Speaker, Honorable Dr. Bhoufal Chambers and Members of the House of Representatives,

The Pro-tempt, Honorable Professor Albert Chea and Members of the Senate,

The Chief Justice, Honorable Francis Korkpor and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the Liberia,

The President, Honorable Matthew Zaza and Members of the UL Board of Trustees,

Bishop John K. Yambasu and Madam Millicent Yambasu

Madam Richlain K. Quire, Wife of Bishop Samuel Jerome Quire,

Madam Dr. Muriel Victoria Nelson, My Partner and Spouse, Children, Leaders and Members of the Julukon Sarwolo Nelson Kingdom

The Doyen and Members of the Cabinet, Republic of Liberia,

Other Government Officials,

Members of the Diplomatic Corp,

Members of the Religious Community

The Leaders of the March Network Fellowship

Our National and International Partners for Education

Former Presidents of the University of Liberia

Vice Presidents, Deans, Directors and Coordinators

Members of the Faculty Senate and the University Council

Presidents and Heads of Academic Institutions

Director of the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE)

Professors, Associate Professors, Assistant Professors, Lecturers

Administrative Directors and Staff-persons

President, Officers and Members of the University of Liberia Faculty Association,

President, Officers and Members of the University of Liberia Staff Association

Chairperson of the University of Liberia Student Union Transitional Committee, Other Student Leaders and Organizations,

President, Officers and Members of the Centennial Commencement Graduating Class for Undergraduate, Graduate Programs and Professional Schools

The University of Liberia Chorus and Marching Band led by their Directors

The Minister of Music and Directors of Stephen Trowen Nagbe, Refuge and Trinity United Methodist Churches Choirs,

Members of the Fourth Estate,

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

Your Excellency, Mr. President, I am grateful for the preferment to serve as President of the University of Liberia. The opportunity to lead a team of academicians and administrators responsible to implement the mandate of the University is a special mandate. My family and I will always cherish this privilege to serve our University and country for the rest of our lives. Together, we can create an enabling environment that will facilitate and promote the incorporation of ideas from our national and international partners to achieve the objectives of the University.

The primary objective of the University remains the provision of quality tertiary education for all those desirous of achieving it within our territorial boarders, as long as you possess the requisite qualification and achieve the relevant requirement. For years, this opportunity was unaffordable to thousands of qualified young Liberians because they lacked the financial capacity. This was evidence through our enrollment records: twenty thousand (20,000) students were billed every semester but only a maximum eight to twelve thousand completed the payment process. Thanks to His Excellency, President Dr. George Manneh Weah, for the unprecedented pronouncement of declaring a tuition free policy for all public tertiary institutions in the country (and the first in the sub- region). 

At the University, enrollment has improved from a maximum of twelve thousand (12,000) students to a current minimum of eighteen thousand five hundred (18,500) students per semester.

Thank you, Your Excellency, Dr. George Manneh Weah, for supporting our efforts to BRIGHTENING THE LIGHT of the University.

The perennial challenge of operating a manual enrollment system which led to thousands of students queueing for days to complete the registration process and often resulting into chaos and disruption of our academic activities was also resolved through the instrumentality of this President. Thank you Dr. George Manneh Weah for facilitating the procuring of an effective online enrollment software that provides the opportunity for our students to complete their registration no matter where they find themselves.

Thanks to the Government for prioritizing the disbursement of salaries to our valued professors and lecturers and for ensuring that those responsible for providing knowledge and molding the minds of our future generation receive a remuneration for the service perform. We are not where we need to be. Let us work together and mobilize additional resources to assist us get to where we need to be in taking good care of our faculty and staff members in the near future.

Thanks and appreciation to our national and international partners for your continuous support to the University of Liberia and the Liberian Educational Sector.

As the fifteenth (15th) President of the University, Let me express thanks and appreciation to my predecessors (Professors Dr. Al Hassan Conteh – the 12th President, Dr. Emmet A. Dennis – the 13th President and Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks – the 14th President). Their leadership and management brought the University thus far. They built the foundation for which we intend to stand as a launching pad to further expand and excel as an institution.  Special thanks to the Vice President for Administration, Prof. Weade Kobbah Boley and the rest of the senior management team for the leadership provided during this brief transitional period.

The task ahead is huge. This is a KAIROS MOMENT. The task of creating an enabling environment to promote the advancement of academic activities will be necessary and requires absolute commitment and dedication collectively to BRIGHTENING THE LIGHT of the University. In doing so there will be challenges such as scarcity of resources, limited qualified, experienced and trained workforce, culture of intolerance and violence arising from students’ activities, and so on. As we work towards handling these challenges we must be intentional about building a culture of tolerance and non-violence on the campuses of the University of Liberia. The following will therefore serve as our primary objectives as we embark upon this new task:

  1. Encouraging Curriculum Development & Enhancement – A Curriculum Review Committee will be set-up in the next couple of months to do a comprehensive review of all curricula across academic programs. We will be ensuring that our curricula are bench-marked against other outstanding Universities within the sub-region. Gaps identified will be adjusted accordingly to ensure our graduates are capable of competing with their compatriots within the sub-region and beyond.
  • Identifying areas of national needs and creating academic programs to train the needed local professionals- We will continue to work with our local and international partners to ensure that we train professionals relevant to the growth and development of the country. We will particularly focus on creating new academic programs in areas where there are limited professionals in the country.  “Research drives innovation”. A number of the challenges we face today can be resolved by sponsoring national research using locally trained professionals hired at affordable rates. The creation of the UL first Terminal (Doctorial) Program will also be an opportunity we will explore and through expansion of our funding sources, we will implement this within the next four years. We will also support the creation of short-term programs that will provide “life skills” to our young people and expand their employability.  
  • Continue our faculty development initiative but with huge emphasis on strengthening areas of gaps -The University of Liberia has made significant progress over the years in improving our faculty profile particularly in the Sciences, Engineering and Business Programs. Despite the progress, there are still VISIBLE gaps relative to the required number of qualified instructors needed in some academic programs. The notable departments include: Mathematics, English, Mass Communication, History and Physics. We will ensure that our Teaching Assistants and Instructors at these departments are provided the opportunity to study at top-notch universities, gain quality higher education and return to improve the faculty profile and academic standards at the University. All of this to ensure that we are BRIGHTENING THE LIGHT of the university.
  • Expanding our sources of revenue intake at the University – Government’s subsidy has over the years accounted for over eighty percent (80%) of the University sources of revenue. While the University will embrace additional government budgetary support, we must now more than ever before be innovative to create additional sources of funding for the University. The following will therefore constitute our initial plans to expand our revenue base:
  1. We will identify realistic investment opportunities, analyze the cost of funding those investment activities, solicit initial funding sources to finance the investments and analyze the relevant pay back and profit earning periods for every investment portfolio before its inception. We will assemble a team of experienced professionals with relevant experiences in progressive investment activities to complete these analyses in the next six months to ensure we actively commence investment activities by our first anniversary of leadership here at the University of Liberia.
  • We will catalog and cost our major objectives and projects and solicit funding through our local and international partners. Examples of those projects will include sourcing funding for our faculty and administrative development initiative, our curriculum advancement program, our facility and administrative improvement projects, etc. The projects will also include investment into infrastructure development as well as Information Communications Technology (ICT) as we strive to move the Business College and the College of General Studies to the Fendall Campus.
  • We will also seek to expand our revenue base through contributions from our alumni community. Through the Office of Alumni Engagement and Enhancement, we will foster a productive relationship and partnership with our impressive alumni community at home and in the diaspora.  Together we will renew the pride of “giving back” to our noble institute and actively participate in reforms and developmental activities with a sense of pride and belonging.
  • Lastly but of equal importance, we will be prioritizing the improvement of students’ activities on all of our campuses. Student political activities at the University have always been a prominent tradition and sometimes seems as the only relevant social activity for students. As we have strived to change this perception, this administration will ensure that other meaningful student activities are advanced. We will ensure that the following are implemented in our first year in office:
  • Establishing The President Student Leaders and Scholars Mentorship Program – The President Student Leaders Mentorship Program will provide our students the opportunity to acquire practical administrative and operational experience through participation in the day-to-day operations of the University. Student leaders and Scholars will be afforded internship experience through assignment at University Administrators offices and earn reasonable stipend for services performed. Our experienced administrators will be tasked with the responsibility of mentoring these student leaders into productive future leaders by improving their skills-sets needed to get the job done. The Office of Students Affairs will monitor the progress and performance of these students and those who demonstrate excellent performance would be honored and given preference for future employment.
  • Reactivate the President Student Advisory Council – The President Student Advisory Council will provide student leaders from various organizations the opportunity to be heard, be informed and as deemed necessary, participate in the decision-making process of the University. As many decisions at the University affect the student populace, maintaining a platform for student participation in the growth and development of the University will be a key hallmark of this Administration.
  • Other activities including Varsity Sports, Miss UL Pageant, intellectual competitions, field trips, participation in seminars and students exchange programs would be sponsored to provide all the students the opportunity to exercise and enhance their God-given talents.   

Mr. President and Visitor, Mr. President of the UL Board Trustees, distinguished guests, in less than two weeks from today, on December 12, the University of Liberia will graduate largest graduating class in its history at the 100th Commencement Convocation.

This is an extraordinary accomplishment in light of where the University has journeyed through these many years: from a single graduate by the name of Mr. James Henry Evans in the year 1866 to now more than 3,600 graduates in the year 2019.

This, therefore clearly demonstrates that the University of Liberia has always been the driver behind the wheels of our national development trajectory.  

To those who will be part of this historic class, and for the added reason that this would be the first commencement I shall officiate as President of the University of Liberia, I want to promise you that this Centennial graduation will not be “LAZY.”

As such, and cognizant of the historic significance associated with this commencement, the Centennial Commencement Committee, after considering several names to do us the honor of serving as   commencement speaker, I am pleased to announce and can confirm that the 100th Commencement Convocation Speaker will be the 5th and current President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio. 

Let us heartily thank the Chairman, Dr. Williams E. Allen and all members of the 100th Centennial Committee, for the hard work thus far, as we look forward to a successful commencement.  

Your Excellency, Dr. George Manneh Weah, distinguished platform guests and members of the University family, the success of our vision to BRIGHTENING THE LIGHT will require the support of all parties: transparency, accountability, total commitment and dedication in ensuring we provide the requisite learning environment and opportunities for our future generation.

This is a call to service we MUST fulfill, an opportunity our future generation MUST embrace and a project that we as a nation MUST continue to support and improve to guarantee national development.

May the good Lord bless us all, bless the University and the Republic of Liberia. Thank you! ………In Mission with a Vision