President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf has urged newly inaugurated University of Liberia (UL) president Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks to “be vigilant and wise” in her new portfolio, saying “we” note with pride that Dr. Weeks is truly a strong and brave woman by accepting the challenge.
The President and Visitor to UL, Mrs. Sirleaf was speaking Wednesday, 13 September at the UL’s Fendall Campus outside Monrovia where she presented Dr. Weeks as new UL president, succeeding Dr. Emmett A. Dennis who headed the institution for nine years.
Mrs. Sirleaf encourages Dr. Weeks to be bold in her measures that will aim at academic excellence, and to emulate the steps of all leaders who have gone before her and have left their imprint [at the University].
President Sirleaf recounts how nine years back, Dr. Weeks’ predecessor Dr. Dennis accepted to take on the task of uncertainty and multiple challenges to serve the University when student riots and faculty protests were frequent and unpredictable in the midst of “very low budgetary support.”
She notes that Dr. Dennis served a clear vision that focused on restoring integrity and stability; faculty and staff development; curricular transformation and restoration of library and laboratories; and developing of IT infrastructure.
Notwithstanding, Mrs. Sirleaf says after assuming office in 2006, her government increased UL’s budgetary support from one million US Dollars to a peak of US$14m by 2013, a 1,400 percent increase.
For fiscal year 2017/2018, she says government has increased UL’s budgetary support to over US$16m, in spite of other pressing demands particularly to improve the quality of education at the lower levels.
In her inaugural address, UL’s second female president Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks assured President Sirleaf that she will execute the duties assigned to her, agreeing with Mrs. Sirleaf that “we” will have to be vigilant and wise in executing the tasks.
A daughter of former UL president Rocheforte Lafayette Weeks (1961 – 1972), Dr. Weeks says measures are needed to be put in place to increase productivity at UL, warning that her administration will have zero tolerance on malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance.
She promises that many things will be accomplished in parallel, noting that some may take a few years. Within the next three years, Dr. Weeks is targeting quality and quantity in terms of capacity building for staff.
She expressed appreciation to President Sirleaf for ensuring that a Chinese Aid project saw the Fendall campus built with money that could have been used to support other projects here considering government’s competing priorities.
UL authorities say the Fendall Campus has land of over 5,800 acres, and the campus now hosts five of UL’s eight undergraduate colleges along with offices. Dr. Weeks’ inauguration was witnessed Wednesday by Liberian officials, foreign diplomats, presidents and representatives from across universities and colleges in Liberia, among others.
By Winston W. Parley