University of Liberia President Discloses Plans for Improvement

FENDELL, Montserrado — Months after she officially took office, the president of the University of Liberia, Ophelia Weeks, has outlined new plans to improve the institution to a level on par with other universities around the world.

According to a release by the university, Weeks disclosed in a speech she recently delivered during the second annual convention of the University of Liberia Alumni Association in the Americas.

The release said she told the gathering that university would establish a Personnel Evaluation and Enhancement Program to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of staff, as part of the plans to drive the improvements.

“This will help to determine mechanisms that need to be put in place to increase productivity, as well as to offer opportunities for staff to attain advanced degrees and participate in job-related refresher workshops, seminars, symposia and short courses,” the statement said.

Weeks said the program would also allow the university to “re-tool and re-train” dedicated and committed staff who need enhancement.

On other issues, Weeks expressed hope for the university to complete the review and revision of its academic programs, which has not been done for the last five years. She said the school had adopted a new policy mandating a five-year review cycle.

“We will also begin the process of introducing hybrid and online courses at UL before the end of 2018,” she said.

Additionally, Weeks disclosed that new undergraduate programs in mechanical engineering, architecture, information communications technology, fisheries, and an Honors College along with four additional graduate programs in public health, environmental sciences, public financial management, and public procurement, are also expected to be launched soon.

“Some of these programs will require less than three years because the developmental process is already underway,” she disclosed.

“Others will take more than three years due to the complexity of the program, and availability of funding. More details on these programs can be found in my inaugural address.”

According to her, the state-run university is also currently working to establish its Technical Learning Center, and a fully functional Testing and Evaluation Center that would be used for more administering entrance exams.

“We hope to put in place a Students Success and Service Center that will contribute to correcting the existing chaotic and defective student union financial aid program, restore discipline, and at the same time infuse good leadership training for our students,” she indicated.

“The University of Liberia Student Union Financial Aid Program needs improved oversight, with the introduction of a more structured merit-based and need-based selection system and process that is fair and transparent. And there need to be more structured psycho-social and mind education programs for our students,” she also explained.

To enhance research for students and staff members, Weeks informed the gathering that the university would complete the installation of WiFi internet access on all its campuses by the end of 2017.

Weeks said enrichment programs are also underway for the university. “We have potential local and international partners to assist our College of Agriculture and Forestry with developing a Poultry Program with focal involvement of youths (using the 4H model), and women in communities that surround our Fendell and Sinje campuses,” she continued.

She disclosed that a partnership between the administration and the University of Liberia Alumni Chorus is currently working on the construction of a Performing Arts Center. The project she said was initiated a little over a year ago.

“Additional medium-size and big-ticket projects may require more time to fundraise, and will include putting in place a capital campaign,” she said.

Weeks took over as the 14th president of the University of Liberia after Emmet Dennis retired in December 2016. Her father, Rocheforte Weeks, also served the university as its third president, between 1959 and 1972. He became the first Liberian to serve the University.

Featured photo by Jefferson Krua

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is currently a senior student at the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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