LIBERIA: VP Howard Taylor Gives Hope To UL’s Future Growth

Delegates at the just ended UL Founder’s Day Conference

Amid the dangling challenges confronting the state-run University of Liberia (UL), Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has given hope to the University on the promise of ensuring the establishment of an ICT portal.

Speaking at the close of a two-day conference in commemoration of the UL’s 71st Founder’s Day held at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, on the outskirt of Monrovia.

The 71st UL Founder’s Day was held at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town under the theme: “The UL Renaissance.”

UL, formerly Liberia College, was chartered and established by an Act of National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia on February 15, 1951, to prepare the nation’s men and women. UL, among other goals, sought to become a “center of learning with high academic standards which is dedicated to the pursuit, promotion, and dissemination of knowledge with emphasis on practical knowledge which is immediately useful to economic, social, political, and cultural development needs.”

VP Howard-Taylor, who recounted the many contributions of the UL to the state, stressed the need for more support so as to ensure that it meets its current and f uture goals, stressing that the establishment of the ICT portal is of critical importance to modernizing the University to be on par with others in the sub-region.

She said the UL is of great importance to the past, current and future of Liberia, stating that the UL has been light in darkness amid difficulty and challenges.

But she of the belief that the University will be headed nowhere if it is not supported adequately.

“Whatever has happened at the national level has happened at the university level because the University has provided platforms for the leaders of our country. We must maximize what we have to build a great University of Liberia,” asserted the VP Howard Taylor.

“All of those who have come out of the University of Liberia must contribute towards the growth and development of this institution. It is important, and I will lead the process to ensure that ICT portal of the University be established. This aspect of the University is the future,” indicated the Vice President.

“On this note, I want to charge all those alumni to rally to make the University a better learning environment for all,” she among other things stated.

Statistically, UL, which is the flagship University of the nation, has a current enrolment of approximately 18,282 students, 753 faculty members (389 full time and 364 part-time), and 1,196 staff on four campuses, namely; Fendall, A.M. Doglioti Medical School, David A. Straz-Sinje, and Capitol Hill.

Speaking at ceremony, the President of the UL, Rev. Dr. Julius S. Nelson Jr., asserted that the blueprint for the UL renaissance is focused primarily on several key pillars and programs including restoring integrity and civility, faculty and staff development, curricular transformation to prepare for current and future national development challenges, restoration of the libraries and laboratories, developing an IT infrastructure including digitization of student records.

Also, in actualization of the UL renaissance, Dr. Nelson disclosed that plans are underway for the development of 5,800 acres of land for a state of the art University Smart Green City.

He said there are plans for resource mobilization and income generation for the UL through LUX Investment Corporation with several subsidiaries (LUX Fountain, LUX Printing Press, LUX Insurance, LUX Filing Station, etc.)

“The UL Founder’s Day is central to the founding of Liberia in view of the historical significance of the inauguration of Liberia College, UL’s precursor, a decade and a half after Liberia’s independence,” he stated.

“It is therefore a significant record to mention that most of Liberia’s leaders of state clergy, commerce, science, and development enterprise were trained at Liberia College,” he added.

Also serving as guest speaker and chief launcher of the Center for Migration and Diaspora Studies at the UL, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, a Professor and Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Temple University in the United States of America (USA), challenged Liberia to assume its rightful place as the modern assertion of a true integration of the African continent in a Pan African way.

Dr. Asante asserted that Liberia has a remarkable history that has defined it as a nation, and as such, it needs to rise up to the occasion in making the difference on the African continent.

Dr. Asante is Professor of Africology and African American Studies at Temple University. He is considered by his peers to be the most published African American scholar with 97 books, including The History of Africa, and 500 articles, he has trained 140 PhD students. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Black Studies and the major proponent of the Afrocentric paradigm.

“Our task is to make a new future grounded on African ideas and values. Today I challenge Liberia to assume its rightful place as the modern assertion of a true integration of this continent in a Pan African way. You do not define your history; your history defines you.  Our task is to make a new future grounded on African ideas and values,” Dr. Asante pointed out.

He indicated that Liberia and the rest of Africa have often been betrayed by believing that Europe is teacher, and they are pupils, something that he believes must now be discouraged and disbelieved by all Africans including Liberia, adding that, that can only be done through the true spirit of pan Africanism.

“Pan African is not merely a theory and a slogan, but a practice. The African Renaissance is a concrete practice of Pan Africanism. What country is best prepared by experience and history to lead such a renaissance for the continent? Liberia is prepared, also, by its ideological, security, economic, and social history with the United States,” he intoned.

According to him, there is no nation in Africa that is more qualified than Liberia to lead the African Renaissance, noting that this can be done in the sense radical thinking.

“I am giving this challenge to Liberia. You must make the Diasporic pivot and claim for Africa all its contributions and achievements. No nation is more qualified than you to become the striker for African unity,” he furthered.

“To do this, we need radical thinking in the sense that we must question ideas that come to us without paying homage to our ancestors,” Dr. Asante told the gathering amid cheers from the audience.

“You here in this fabled country, through a history of courage, and devotion to the idea of a universal African community have demonstrated more than most nations the acceptance of people from other communities.  It is no wonder that the University of Liberia has become the fertile ground for the idea of African Diaspora Studies. This pivot will allow you to advance a thousand-fold and bring many other people and nations to honor the work you will do,” he noted.

“I am truly pleased to be able to examine the faces of those who have the courage to return to the study of the children of the motherland. Your children are everywhere. Liberia is not a static idea; it is a dynamic idea, one that evolves every year and becomes more and more the country that opens its hands to all Africans. This is your history; this is your destiny,” the US educator and pan African advocate said.

He cautioned that the Center for Migration and Diaspora Studies go beyond ethnicity, color, religion, and language in its acceptance and analyses of the African diaspora.

“Yet to be beyond ethnicity and color does not mean to ignore who you are, your heritage and traditions, but to accept the same from, and for other people.”

“The Center should be fiercely Afrocentric, grounded in classical African texts, articulating a common narrative of excellence and victory, asserting the liberation of women, while understanding a global Africa as the producer of knowledge, and dedicated to resisting all forms of domination,” added Dr. Asante.

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