What It Takes To Build World-class Universities By Faborode

By Humphrey Ogu
Former Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Osun State, Professor Michael Faborode, has challenged Nigerian Universities to strive toward world-class status to increase their relevance in society. He urged Managements of tertiary institutions in the country to focus more attention on high impact research, including seeking grants-making opportunities, forging international linkages and capitalising knowledge to receive global ranking.
“If a university is to be perceived to be a successful as a world-class university, it must be that a culture of collective commitment to the quintessential ideals of the ivory tower (synergy and rhythm) has been ingrained in the university's DNA,” Professor Faborode, who was a former Secretary General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, made the submission while delivering the 2020 Founders' Day Lecture of the University at the EbitimiBanigo Auditorium last Thursday. 
Speaking on the topic: “Our Strength is our Wealth,” Professor Faborode declared that “University governance requires bold and firm leadership, personified by a visionary Vice Chancellor, who must be supported by all other functionaries towards achieving the institution's vision, fulfilling her mission and ensuring her sustainability and relevance to humanity and local context.
“What makes universities uniquely essential to the innovation ecosystem are the things that make them different from businesses and governments. Universities are built for collaboration, for learning and discovery, and for unlocking the imagination. They are powerful incubators for startups and technology transfer,” he said, adding that African science and innovation must emulate the developments in famous Nollywood home movie, African music and fashion industries and situate African scientific and technological innovation in the locus of local and global transformation. 
“Universities must encourage and support the emerging Nigerian innovation ecosystem to thrive through deliberate government-backed effort to establish special purpose university-industry linkage structures (tecnovation hubs and parks, innovation support financing, etc), and give realistic and patriotic essence to the local content initiative,” Professor Faborode added.
In his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor, Professor NdowaLale, noted that “February 6 each year marks a special day on the academic calendar of the University of Port Harcourt. It is generally agreed that it was on that historic day in 1975 that the University College, Port Harcourt was decreed into existence by the Supreme Military Council headed by General OlusegunObasanjo (as he then was) in our country.
“In the last 45 years, successive administrations have kept the spirit of inquiry open to staff and students in all parts of the University to explore the gift of specialised knowledge laid before us by Almighty God and human agency. Our students have openly and enthusiastically embraced all the knowledge and skills that the University could offer them in its diversity,” the Vice Chancellor declared. 
“The Founders' Day is not designed for students and staff to take the day off from the campus to pursue other pastimes. It is a moment of deep reflection and gratitude to our Founding Fathers for their great pioneering effort that has bequeathed this legacy and privilege to us as their worthy successors. They have laid a solid foundation upon which we now have a duty to build an enviable tradition that would endure far through the ages. Today, therefore, offers our staff, students, alumni and other stakeholders a rare opportunity to look back with immense pride at what has been accomplished here and the enormous work that remains to be done to move the University to higher grounds,” he affirmed. 
Also speaking, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Regina Ogali, showered praises on Professor Faborode for a well-researched and thought-provoking lecture. “This lecture has shown us how to harness what we have here to ensure that our strength becomes our wealth. We will continue to keep the flag flying high in the established tradition of excellence laid by our Founding Fathers,” Professor Ogali said. She expressed gratitude to all those who found time to grace the lecture. 
A major highlight of the Founders' Day Lecture featured a playlet on the theme of the event as directed by DrOvundaIhunwo of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies. There were also musical renditions conducted by Dr Precious Omuku of the Department of Music. Professor Faborode was decorated with the famous Muffler of the University of Port Harcourt by the 7th Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka. Principal Officers, Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Deans, Heads of Department, Institute and Centre Directors, including top administrators and students, graced the event, amongst others.

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