Liberia: Dr. Nelson Highlights New Initiatives to Transform UL

-Weah advises Dr. Nelson to be Wise, Vigilant

The President of the University of Liberia (UL), Dr. Julius J. S. Nelson has highlighted several new initiatives, including expanding sources of revenue intake to help transform the university.

Dr. Nelson made the remarks on Thursday during his inauguration as the fifteenth president of the University of Liberia, held at the Fendall Campus. He said encouraging Curriculum Development & Enhancement -through 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 benchmarked 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," Dr. Nelson said.

Dr. Nelson said his administration will be identifying areas of national needs and creating academic programs to train the needed local professionals, stating "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."

He said a notable example is the lack of a national tertiary Research Training Program. "Research drives innovation," while indicating "A number of the challenges we face today can be resolved by sponsoring national research using locally trained professionals hired at affordable rates."

Dr. Nelson said the creation of the UL's first Terminal (Doctoral) Program "will also be an opportunity we will explore and, through the 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," Dr. Nelson said.

He said the university will continue with faculty development initiative but with a huge emphasis on strengthening areas of gaps, indicating that UL has made significant progress over the years in improving its faculty profile particularly in the Sciences, Engineering and Business Programs.

Dr. Nelson said despite the progress, there are still VISIBLE gaps relative to the required number of qualified instructors needed in some academic programs, including these notable departments: Mathematics, English, Mass Communication, History and Physics.

"We will ensure that our intelligent and responsible 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," he said.

Dr. Nelson, who extended gratitude to President Weah for his preferment as UL's fifteenth president, said 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.

He said while the UL will embrace additional government budgetary support, "we must now more than ever before be innovative to create additional sources of funding for the University."

"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 payback and profit earning periods for every investment portfolio before its inception," Dr. Nelson said.

He continued: "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," the newly inaugurated president said.

According to him, the projects will also include investment in infrastructure development as well as Information Communications Technology (ICT) as we strive to move the Business College and General Studies to the Fendall Campus.

He said the success of his administration's 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.

President George M. Weah said, "As you have been entrusted today with the gavel of authority of this venerable Institution, I urge you to use it with wisdom, in order to fulfill the vision which you have just outlined in your Inaugural Address."

President Weah said, "In my dual capacities as President of Liberia and Visitor to the University, I promise my fullest support to you and your team, as you now embark upon this journey of leadership and service."

Mr. President, you bring a lot of experience to this new position, having served for more than 12 years at the University in various positions of trust and responsibility. Many of those years were spent in Student Affairs, where you dealt with student issues.

President Weah told Dr. Nelson that he expects that Nelson's experiences and expertise in this area will now become a very useful asset, as you engage the students of the University in order to address the various issues which are of pressing concern to them.

"Dr. Nelson, you also served as a member of the faculty. So, you come with the experience of someone who spent time in the classroom. You are therefore very aware of the issues that members of the faculty of this University have to deal with," President Weah said.

He extended thanks and appreciation to Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, the 14th President, for her leadership.

"The University of Liberia is a well-respected institution in our nation and around the world. It has trained the vast majority of Liberian professionals working in this country and around the world today. I pledge today, that my Administration will do all that is necessary to maintain this reputation and support your accomplishments so that you will continue to grow from strength to strength," President Weah said.

"The first time that I visited was to dedicate the automated registration system which my Government provided to mitigate the problems and delays that students were encountering during the registration process. Today, students do not have to form queues just to register for classes. So, we solved a major problem, which was a source of much confusion on your campus.

"So, I visited the second time. I came to help solve that problem and announced a Free-Tuition Policy for all public universities in Liberia. Today, because of that policy, I am informed that enrollment at the University of Liberia has increased to nearly 19,000 students, an increase of 7,000 over the 12,000 students that were enrolled before the policy came into effect.

"I made my third visit. This time it was different. I had come to fulfill my role as a Visitor of the University of Liberia by attending the 99th Commencement Convocation. During that commencement, as you will recall, I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree, thereby making me an alumnus of the UL

"Today is my fourth visit in less than two years. I am here to attend my first inauguration of a new president of the University. I hope and I trust that this will not only be the first but also the last time that I will have to attend another inauguration of a new president for the rest of my tenure as Visitor," President Weah said.

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