V-C Makes Case For Strategic Leadership In African Varsities By Otikor Samuel


The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, has called on universities in Africa to place more emphasis on strategic leadership and entrepreneurship skills that would facilitate commercialisation of their research findings.

Professor Lale made the call while delivering a paper entitled: Strategic Leadership and University Governance at this year's Association of African Universities Day celebration which held at the auditorium of the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS) on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

“Today, universities are struggling with multiple identity crises of how to properly situate themselves in a new consumerist society that panders to the utilitarian value of everything under the sun. The era of acquiring knowledge for the sole sake of knowledge has been swept under the rug. Universities are increasingly being compelled to fit into this value-laden environment in which they are corralled to fit into what has been described as their 'third mission'.

“The 'third mission' concept seeks to make universities more responsive to the real needs of society, as opposed to existing in monastery-like settings which previously set them apart from the rest of society,” the Vice-Chancellor observed. He added that the new focus compelled the universities to combine scholarship with entrepreneurship to stimulate economic growth.

Professor Lale pointed out that most university administrators were under enormous pressures to expose their students to entrepreneurial and commercial activities, noting that the drive to give students hands-on skills was designed to make them employable on graduation.

“The internationalisation of knowledge means that academics in one part of the world must regularly look at what their colleagues are doing elsewhere if they hope to remain relevant in the shifting industry of ideas and their capitalisation in a consumerist society. In this new challenging environment, university administrators must learn to strike a delicate balance between academic freedom for their faculties and exercising institutional supervisory functions,” Professor Lale stated.

On strategic governance and human resource management of the universities, the Vice-Chancellor stated that the role of university managements should essentially centre on how to coordinate their diverse academic, administrative and technical activities to achieve institutional growth and prosperity for society.

“In the face of dwindling funding, universities must prioritise 'third mission' activities to maximise their impact in the areas of competitive advantage over other institutions. Universities should also support research teams with ideas, vision and capacity to produce results that can bring additional revenue. Aggressive engagement with distinguished alumni and other stakeholders can also be another source of funding for universities,” the Vice-Chancellor posited.

Welcoming participants from Ghana and other Nigerian universities, Centre Leader of the Africa Centre of Excellence in Oilfield Chemicals Research, Professor Ogbonna Joel, commended the partnership with the AAU, insisting that students and university leaderships must key into the new trend of aligning classroom theories with industry needs to make students relevant on graduation.

The resource persons included a former Vice-Chancellor of University of Uyo, Professor Comfort Ekpo, Director of Quality Assurance and Quality Control, Professor Ikechukwu Agbagwa and Acting Dean of the Student Affairs Department, Dr. Otu Ekpenyong.

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