University of Liberia Prexy Proposes 21st Century Education Target; Launches Centennial Commencement Committee
Monrovia – University of Liberia President, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks has emphasized the need for Liberia to shoulder the responsibility of training its manpower to meet the demands of the 21th Century.
Speaking Monday, March 11, at the official launch of the UL Centennial Graduation Commence Committee on the Capitol Hill campus of the university, Dr. Weeks noted that the training of citizens should not be entrusted to outsiders if Liberia must survive in the 21th century.
She emphasized the need for Liberia to rely on homegrown professors.
“For Liberia to survive in the 21th century and for Liberia to become competitive, the training of its citizens should not be entrusted to others outside of Liberia,” Dr. Weeks, who is the 14th President and second woman to head the UL, said.
As a result, she believes, Liberians must now set for themselves objectives and goals that will put them on top.
One of those goals for her as President of the UL is to see the University of Liberia being ranked among the top 20 universities within Africa in the next seven years.
According to her, said goal can only be achieved when citizens collaborate and when adequate support is given to educational institutions.
Historical Perspective of First Liberia College/UL Commencement in 1866
Touching on the coming December 2019 graduation commencement, which will be the 100th commencement exercise of the institution since it held its first commencement in 1866 when there was no female in the institution, the UL President also spoke of the steady increase in female matriculation to the nation’s highest institution of learning. In her historical account, she mentioned how in 1905, the first female graduated from the UL, which was formerly Liberia College until 1951 before it transitioned to UL.
According to Dr. Weeks, throughout the years, the female enrolment has hit 34 percent and it is likely to increase.
Dr. Weeks: “In 1866 Liberia College celebrated its first commencement, 15 years after Liberia College was chartered and 19 years after Liberia had become an independent nation in 1847.”
According to the UL President, few years before the first commencement convocation, 10 young men sat the entrance, which was offered in Mathematics, Greek and Latin; adding: “three received scholarship while seven paid their own fees.”
Classes began in 1863 with the nation’s first President, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, Professor Rev. Edward Wilmot Blyden and Dr. Rev. Alexander Crummel as the first three professors. They taught their first 10 students Greek, Latin and Mathematics along with other courses.
“Let this centennial mark a renew commitment to UL as our Alma Mata. I have no doubts in my mind that we can achieve our goals and many others, only when we work together,” Dr. Weeks noted.
The 14th UL President further noted that the launch of the centennial celebration will be characterized by yearlong events, including implementations of several projects.
These projects, according to her, will contribute to what she called prosperous and glorious future of the university.
“Some of the activities include intellectual and cultural events, presentation on the establishment of Liberia College, student jamboree and hopefully the establishment of a printing press,” Dr. Weeks disclosed.
The UL President revealed that the printing press will hopefully be in full swing by July 2019, calling for the support of everyone towards the process.
She spoke of how the University of Liberia looks forward to improving on its internet connectivity on all of its campuses.
Dr. Weeks formally launched the UL Centennial Committee Commencement Committee, which includes two of her predecessors — Dr. Emmet Dennis and Dr. Al-Hasan Conteh, Liberia’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dr. William Allen, Chairman of Centennial Committee
At the same time, the Chairman of the UL Centennial Commencement Committee, Dr. William Ezra Allen, said the centennial graduation is expected to be celebrated under the theme, “Memory Preservation and the Way Forward.”
According to him, progress made by UL since its inception as a college from 1866 to 2019 cannot be over emphasized and must be recognized.
Meanwhile, Dr. Allen noted that the UL needs to strengthen several areas while going through its centennial celebration.
“While we are celebrating, we realize that there are areas we need to strengthen and we will strengthen as we go about,” the UL Vice President maintained.
However, he said some tremendous strive have been made by the institution in improving quality learning over the years.
According to him, the centennial celebration, which is now going to take place in December 2019, should have been in 1966 but because of at least 51 academic years when there was were no graduation exercises.
Student Leadership & Other Representatives
Also speaking on behalf of the student body, Mr. K. Edward Norman, Jr. spoke of how joyful it would be to a part of history making.
“It’s going to be the 100th commencement comes December 2019. But when we look back, we can count a number of achievements that the UL has had on the lives of Liberians and other nationals.”
He used the occasion to thank President George Manneh Weah for making undergraduate education at all public Institutions tuition-free.
A representative of the alumni association, told the UL Administration, “We are in this boat with you. Whatever project that you intend to achieve for the Centennial Committee, just inform us in time.”
Mr. Thomas Doe-Nah, the Commissioner-General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), who spoke on behalf of the Government of Liberia stated: “We are committed to contributing to all of our institutions. But we can do so when and if we increase our revenue base by this we can be among the best universities in Africa.”
He urged the Centennial Committee to use this year, to take the UL to another level. He also told his fellow alumnus to put their hands behind their alma mater
UL Looking for Descendent(s) of First Graduate
Meanwhile, the authority of the University of Liberia, through the Centennial Commencement Committee, is asking the public to help them locate any descendent of the first graduate — Mr. James Henry Evans — who walked out of the institution back in 1866 as the lone graduate. “Please help with any vital pieces of information that will lead us to finding a descendant of our first alumnus, Mr. James Henry Evans,” Atty Norris Tweah, Vice President for UL Relations, announced.