One year after serving as Interim President of the United Methodist University (UMU), Johnson Gwaikolo now heads the institution officially as its president. During his induction ceremony Gwaikolo said he will seek to relocate the UMU from its central Monrovia site to the Roberts Field highway (airport road) 15 miles from Monrovia. “The students need a conducive environment to enhance their learning at our school,” Gwaikolo said. Gwaikolo who has been serving the UMU for the last 12 months as interim president said the campus is too congested for a smooth learning space. “I am afraid the students might go to other institutions if the issue of space is not resolved in the soonest possible time,” he warned.
Asked how he and the UMU leadership are going to fund the relocation process, the UMU president said he is going to work with some health institutions that have expressed interest in doing business with the school for such an undertaking. “We will move the institution college by college and the college of health sciences will be the first on our list,” he asserted. He pointed out during the Ebola crisis, students of the college of health sciences were very instrumental in serving various health institutions and that is how UMU was recognized for the kind of quality teaching service it is providing to the students. “Our school, especially the college of health sciences was used as a training based for most Ebola health workers including the one sponsored by the Discipleship Ministries,” Gwaikolo affirmed.
Though the UMU President did not name specific health institutions that expressed their willingness to partner with the UMU authorities, he said moving the college of health sciences will be the quickest plan that will attract partnership and sponsorship. There are people and institutions that are standing by to help us move this college because of the contribution that we are making in the health care delivery program of Liberia. “Our students are very much outstanding at the Ganta United Methodist Hospital in Ganta, Nimba County,” Gwaikolo emphasized.
He further indicated that the UMU administration under his leadership will launch a “capital campaign” and dialogue with funding institutions to raise the needed capital that will enhance the relocation process. The campaign will include signing memorandum of understanding with United Methodist related institutions in the United States of America to create an elibrary for the UMU students,” Gwaikolo concluded.
Appointed by the Board of Directors of the United Methodist University in September 2015 as interim president, Johnson Gwaikolo was officially inducted into office by Retired Bishop John Innis on August 30, 2016 as the third president of the university since it establishment. Gwaikolo’s induction was Bishop Innis’s last administrative action 48 hours away from his retirement. Prior to his appointment at UMU as interim president, Gwaikolo served the United Methodist University as the vice president for business and finance. Gwaikolo also worked with the Liberian government in various positions before joining the university staff. He is a doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Leadership at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
Reporting by Julu Swen.