The President of the Liberia National Bar Association Counselor Tiawan Saye Gongloe has appealed to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and current President George Manneh Weah to emulate the footstep of Liberia’s first President, the latrer Joseph Jenkins Roberts by willing a portion of their life-holdings to the University of Liberia.
He said if all of Liberia’s past presidents had donated or willed a portion of their properties to the University of Liberia, it would have been in a better position financially.
Cllr. Gongloe made the call when while serving as guest lecturer during the University of Liberia’s Alumni Homecoming hundredth Day Celebration held Friday, 19 February on the UL Capitol Hill campus in Monrovia,
“We need to learn from the example set by the first President of the Republic of Liberia who was also the first President of Liberia College, the precursor to the University of Liberia. He, for me, is the greatest past president of Liberia by every standard,” he noted.
Gongloe believes Roberts was nationalistic, patriotic, and committed to the success of Liberia and a humble leader as shown by the fact after serving as President of Liberia.
This is because “J.J. Roberts”, as he was affectionately known, agreed at the time to serve as President of Liberia College and thereby bringing his leadership experience and skill in order to make the idea of establishing a higher institution of learning for future leaders become a reality.
Gongloe, a lecturer of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law and Human Law at the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia, said the late president set an example that no other President of Liberia has ever followed.
“He willed his coffee farm then located at the Mamba Point to the Methodist Church for the education of the children of Liberia. Up to present, more than hundred years after his death, the children of Liberia continue to benefit from the generosity President Joseph Jenkins Roberts through the JJ Roberts Educational Foundation that the United Methodist Church has managed so well,” he explained.
He also urged all former students and graduates of the University of Liberia as well as friends of the University to donate or make provisions in their wills for the support of the state-owned institution.
LNBA boss suggested that another source of raising money for a university is thru naming of buildings, halls, classrooms, departments in honor of donors or persons of interest to donors, saying, this is what is done at many universities, around the world. “Spaces, structures and objects are named after donors or persons that donors want to honor.”
“For example”, he continued that if the alumni association or even the University of Liberia administration wants to name a building, a department, hall or hallway in honor of its first female president, Mary Antoinette Brown, then a group of donors must raise money to support that effort.
“On this note, I appeal to families of those whose parents were honored by the University of Liberia by placing their names on departments, halls and buildings, to make generous donations for the upkeep of those departments, halls, and buildings by either giving money, buildings, farms, parcels of town and farmlands to the University of Liberia,” Gongloe said.
He added that family of late President William V. S. Tubman could donate the Totota Farm of the late president to the University of Liberia for the upkeep of the Teachers’ College or the Tubman’s house in Congo Town, which apparently has been vacant for many years or both.
Similarly, the Tolbert family could donate Tolbert’s farm in Belefana for the upkeep of the College of Agriculture and Forestry, among other suggestions he advanced in finding sources of funding the UL.
“The type of leaders that the university committed itself to produce is reflected in the motto of the University of Liberia, “Lux in tenebris”, a Latin phrase which means light in darkness,” Gongloe said.
He told the hundreds of alumni from all walks of life that they must be privately and openly critical of their fellow alumni who betray the motto light in darkness in order to promote the good name of our university and to preventing our country from collapsing. “Nobody trained by the University of Liberia can ever count himself or herself among the poor.”
During the programme, a rally was held where with several alumni made cash donation. Amongst them were Counselor Tiawan Gongloe and family US$200, UL President Julius Nelson and family US$200, Moses Zinnah and family US$200 and many others.
Also a moment of silence to the memory of those alumni who, over the last hundred years have transitioned from life to death, especially those who were made to forcibly transition during the Liberian civil conflict was observed.
Amongst them were alumni Victor Ward, Albert Senwah, Tonia Richardson, Wiwi Debbah, Mbolay N’dorbor, David Momolu Lavala, as well as former President Stephen Yekerson and many more. Editing by Jonathan Browne