Georgewill Assumes Office As UniPort 9th VC As Okodudu Bows Out, Relives Experience

By Otikor Samuel


Following his appointment by the Governing Council on Friday, July 2, 2021, Professor Owunari Georgewill has assumed office as ninth Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt. Professor Georgewill took over from Professor Stephen Okodudu, who was Acting Vice Chancellor of the University for the past 12 months.

Speaking at a brief handover ceremony at the Council Chamber inside Senate Building, University Park, on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, the new Vice Chancellor, who disclosed that the agenda of his administration would be captured in his Inaugural Address, expressed gratitude to God for the appointment.

“When I was interviewed for the position, I did say that collectively working with all critical stakeholders, we will take the University of Port Harcourt to an enviable height not only in Nigeria, but also beyond Africa. We will restore the glory of UniPort by concentrating on the mandate of the University. My administration will raise the bar on staff welfare and infrastructural development. However, I cannot do all these alone. I am not a magician, so I want everyone to join me in this task. I call on those who contested the position with me to join me to make UniPort more prosperous,” the new Vice Chancellor said.

In separate goodwill messages, the Bursar, Dr Felicia Ayuwo, who spoke on behalf of other Principal Officers, congratulated the 9th Vice Chancellor on his appointment. The Bursar pledged the support of Management for the new administration. She also commended the immediate past Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Stephen Okodudu, for his achievements within the past one year in office.

Some members of the Governing Council also took turns to speak at the event. Professor Clifford Ofurum, enjoined the new Vice Chancellor to run an all-inclusive administration by bringing all critical stakeholders on board for the collective interest of the University. Professor Martin Ifeanacho enthused that: “the University is now set to soar again like an eagle. As Alumni, this is the best opportunity to take our University to greater heights, so Mr Vice Chancellor, we will attack you and we will also defend you. The whole essence is to prod you to make UniPort more visible in global ranking.” Professor Ngozi Iheanacho, who also showered praises on immediate past Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Okodudu on his achievements in office, urged the 9th Vice Chancellor to work closely with Professor Okodudu to tap from his experience in the short but eventful period in office. On his part, Professor Femi Shaka, urged the new Vice Chancellor to remain focus on accomplishing his goals. He also commended Professor Okodudu for leaving sound legacies, despite the challenges he met in office.

Speaking before handing over to the 9th Vice Chancellor, immediate past Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Okodudu, thanked members of the University community for the support given to him to succeed. He appealed that such hands of fellowship be extended to Professor Georgewill for the continued growth of the University.  

Earlier, in his Valedictory Address to Congregation entitled: Love Changes Everything which was delivered on Monday, July 12, 2021, Professor Okodudu, listed some of his achievements in office to include: the harvest of 60 Professors, over 40 Associate Professors and conversion of over 146 Senior Professional, Administrative and Technical Staff (SPATS).

Professor Okodudu disclosed that three more staff, who have been recommended for promotion to the professoriate and six for Associate Professors, were awaiting approval of the Governing Council. Also awaiting approval of the Council, according to him, were the recommendations for the appointments of Directors, Deputy Registrars and Deputy Bursars in the Registry, Bursary and Health Services Departments. Others included Deputy Directors and Programmers/System Analyst for Internal Audit, Works and Service and Sports.

“Fundamentally too, in order to avoid the continuing backlog of promotion matters and staff stagnation, we have, at last, been able to produce the new Career Structure which is also before the Governing Council for approval,” Professor Okodudu stated, outlining 40 other cadres of staff that have been recommended for promotion.

On the election of the new Vice Chancellor, Professor Okodudu said: “The significant aspect in all the elections that were conducted which eventually culminated in the selection of the 9th Vice Chancellor, was that there was absolute tranquillity in the University. I, as Acting Vice Chancellor, tried my best in not only guaranteeing level playing field for all to contest without interference, but I also made the personal sacrifice I promised from my Inaugural Address by acting at all times in the best interest of the University.”

On his experience on the job, Professor Okodudu said: “These months have been a source of very high experience for me beyond what Sociology, my primary discipline, has taught me. The experience has made me more appreciative of the different tendencies of the average person I meet daily. I have seen more good than bad in people. For me, if you are not too judgmental, there is at least, one good aspect in everyone you meet every day. In all, I know I have made more friends and worthy allies that I shall forever treasure,” the immediate past Acting Vice Chancellor said.

Professor Okodudu revealed that though he was challenged on various fronts on assumption of office as Acting Vice Chancellor, he was satisfied with the current state of the University. “With what we have been able to achieve in these past twelve months, which has actually been like eternity for me, I can say without equivocation that we have been able to, at least, in the finest tradition of the academia, restore to the University, the time-tested intellectual attribute of letting ideas contend and allowing the superior logic to prevail,” he concluded.

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