One Momentous Year Of Ajienka’s Tenure

On Monday, July 12, 2010, Professor Joseph Ajienka mounted the saddle of leadership as 7th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt with the stated aim of engineering a new up-building of the University at his Inaugural Address. His vision of actualizing a new Unique UNIPORT by driving an Entrepreneurial University through viable partnerships with major stakeholders received tremendous applause from staff and students right from the commencement of his tenure. One year after, UNIPORT Weekly evaluates major milestones of the Administration headed by an accomplished Professor of Petroleum Engineering (first in the Country to become Vice-Chancellor), who is determined to engineer the University to new heights. 

One Momentous Year of Ajienka's Tenure
No doubt, Professor Ajienka’s first year in office has resulted in the laying of a solid foundation for the making of an Entrepreneurial University. In his first Progress Report to the Governing Council and other stakeholders, the Vice-Chancellor stated that: “On assumption of duty in July 2010, we identified the following challenges:  Increased student numbers exceeding our carrying-capacity, underfunding, poor research culture, poor harvest of graduates; lack of maintenance culture, poor work ethics, lack of enthusiasm to learn and teach, including safety and security challenges. Also, the need to improve our curricula, library services, relationship with host communities, power supply, staff welfare, increase Campus accommodation and exposure to international best practices formed our major areas of focus”. 
There is an axiom which says that a problem identified is half-solved. Therefore, having identified these challenges, the Administration set out to frontally confront them by marshalling out a functional work-plan. The plan is aimed at improving University Administration, strengthening the nucleus of the academic programmes, providing effective leadership and mentorship, publishing a compendium of Senate Decisions and having them reviewed annually to facilitate decision-making and implementation, as well as strengthening the Registry, Bursary, Physical Planning and Works and Services Departments to give of their best. The Administration also set a goal to improve on research and development, academic units, sports as well as, strive for the financial independence of the Institution. It is the policy of Professor Ajienka to improve on the relationship with Host Communities (Town and Gown), staff, students and alumni, safety and security as well as power and utilities. 
These were the targets of the Vice-Chancellor when he took over last July. In the last one year, the Administration has reviewed the Strategic Plan through the Professor Mark Anikpo-led Committee, set up the Senate Business Committee, Committee to Review Academic Curriculum, as well as Committee on New Faculties and Programmes. These Committees have since submitted their reports which are already being implemented by the Administration. There is also improvement  in the process of paying appropriate Honorarium to External Assessors to motivate them to greater productivity; regular publication of UNIPORT Weekly, regular meetings of Management, timely payment of staff salaries; payment of Faculty Subventions and Direct Teaching and Laboratory Cost (DTLC) to Department. 
Also within the period under review, the Governing Board of the College of Continuing Education (CCE) was inaugurated, including Research Advisory Boards for the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS), as well as Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Administration has also evaluated the service providers on computerization of records, taken over  AfriHub ICT infrastructure, re-constituted the Strategic Committee, Degree Results Verification Committee, Central Hostel Maintenance Committee, as well as Students’ Advisory Committee. 
In pursuance of staff development and capacity-building, the Administration has sponsored a number of staff on short courses and conferences. Within the one year of the current Administration, a number of Centres and Professorial Chairs have been endowed. There is the establishment of the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur Centre for International Trade and Development/Professorial Chair, MONIPULO Centre for Petroleum Geosciences/Professorial Chair, Kay Williamson Chair in Applied Linguistics, Ayebaemi Spiff Chair in Organic Chemistry, Centre for Malaria and Phyto-medicinal Research, and Centre for Water Resources Technology in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, amongst others. 
The Administration has also attracted a World Bank STEP-B Innovator of Tomorrow (IOT) Research Grant in Petroleum Engineering, Civil Engineering and Pharmacy, as well as the Centre for Gender Studies endowed by the First Lady and Wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dame (Dr) Patience Jonathan. The University has developed partnerships with the University of Lancashire, UK in Oil and Gas Operations Management sponsored by PTDF and British Council, National Atomic Energy Commission  and International Atomic Energy Agency Support for Malaria Research and Marine Pollution Monitoring, while four proposals for MacArthur Foundation Grants have scaled the first hurdle. 
The University has also been selected by the Federal Ministry of Education as an Entrepreneurial Centre. The Institute of Science Laboratory Technology received full accreditation and got approval from Senate to run Full-Time programme, while the pioneer Graduates of ISLT have been inducted into Membership of the Nigerian Institute of Science Technology (NISLT). Under Ajienka’s watch, the College of Health Sciences was able to surmount all obstacles to induct two sets of Medical Doctors into Membership of the Medical and dental Council of Nigeria. 
The University of Port Harcourt Business School and Arts Village have finally taken off, while the proposed Technology Park and Sports Institute would soon commence. The Administration has also set up the University–Industry Partnership Committee, Health, Safety/ID Card Committee, as well as the Committee on Power and Utilities, amongst numerous others aimed at changing the way we do business. 
The Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office (IPPTO) has opened in the University to encourage research and development in line with the Administration’s bid to emphasis functional research endeavours that can be commercialized by industry players. The recent ranking which placed the Institution 5th in Nigeria and 18th in Africa is a major leap forward for an Administration that has just been in office for only a year. Who knows where what our ranking would be at the end of Professor Ajienka’s tenure?
The achievements of the Ajienka’s Administration have not left out sports as the University emerged champions of the Nigerian Universities Games Association (NUGA) hosted by the University of Benin last March; this is in addition to successive three victories that have given the University pole position on the sporting league table in and outside the Country. One year in the life of this Administration has been quite momentous and marked with lots of positive events which are evidence of more achievements in the coming years. 
As we look to the future with hope, confidence and resoluteness, we have no doubt that this is the beginning of better things to come in the remaining lifespan of this Administration. Professor Ajienka will certainly achieve more if all stakeholders continue to give him maximum support as implements his laudable vision for the University and its host communities. Congratulations Vice-Chancellor and more power to your elbow. It is a new era; a new way of doing things; and certainly-a new Entrepreneurial University where Research meets Business and Enterprise. HHHUUURRRAAAHHH!
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