At a colorful and well-attended ceremony held last Friday, September 6, 2019 on the UL Fendall campus, UL President Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks paid homage to her predecessor, Professor Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, for starting the Honors Program that has now transcended in an Honors College.
Dr. Weeks said in many institutions, honors programs and colleges are developed to highlight the best students and faculty that they have to offer.
“This program is long overdue,” she said. “You want to be able to highlight the crème de la crème. You don’t want the crème de la crème to get lost in the sea.”
Dr. Weeks said she hopes that as the University of Liberia evolves, everyone will work together to make the college live its true meaning.
“And so, as we move or transition or evolve, I hope that all of you, the entire University family, will work together to make sure that this Honors Program, soon to be Honors College, thrives and becomes ‘the best! ‘the best! ‘the best!” she said with much enthusiasm. “We’ll start off with ‘the best in the area, then ‘the best in the region, and then ‘the best beyond.’”
According to its overview, the Honors College will empower students with the research knowledge and skills needed to solve critical national issues.
The ceremony was attended by Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, who delivered a special statement of appreciation and commendation to the UL Administration.
Said Vice President Howard-Taylor: “We have been rescued by academicians who have provided all of us an environment for debate, research, critical thinking, analysis, knowledge expansion, competence, excellence, and advocacy, among others.”
One of the areas of academic interest to be focused on in the new college is gender studies, and Vice President Howard-Taylor, who is a life-long champion and advocate of female empowerment and gender equity, lauded the UL Administration for recognizing the need to do more research in the area.
“By their decision to include this subject matter in the curriculum – ‘I am of the opinion that this opportunity provides a safe space where our national discourse can be broadened, our horizons elevated and clarity and substance added to our debate,” she said.
“I hope you can all imagine how I feel today standing here and being a part of history. It is, therefore, a distinguished, yet humbling honor to launch this monumental milestone achievement of Programs in Gender and Research Studies at the Nation’s premier Institution of Learning; the University of Liberia; my alma mater,” said Vice President Howard-Taylor enthusiastically.
Gender Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr delivered the keynote address, applauding the UL Administration for the establishment of a college that places emphasis on gender studies, especially for Liberian students and the region as well.
She said the establishment of the college was an assurance that societal understanding of gender in Liberia is taking a dramatic trend from just the official public discussions to a more critical academic and intellectual deep – dive.
Minister Saydee-Tarr recommended social inclusion, gender budgeting, gender statistics, women in peace and security, social protection, among others, to be added in the college’s curriculum.
Also attending the ceremony was Ms. Telia Urey, who recently contested the representative election in District # 15. Ms. Urey said she hopes the Honors College of Research and Interdisciplinary Studies will identify solutions to some of the problems faced by Liberia, adding, “We also hope that it will find creative solutions to these complex issues that we’re faced with as a country and as a people.”
“We hope this school will help to shape public policy and act as a ‘think-tank’ to move our country in the direction that it should go in,” she said.
Miss Urey said she is optimistic that the college of gender studies will include other areas of interest to get a holistic understanding of issues the country is faced with, stating: “And it’s my sincere hope that this college will break these barriers to understanding, and give room for innovative learning, critical thinking and creative problem-solving.”
She then pledged to provide 15 scholarships every semester.
Using the University of Cape Coast’s Model, the UL Honors Research College developed eight research areas based upon the Liberian National Agenda and Global Sustainable Development Goals, which include education, agriculture, chemical, and physical research, engineering and innovation research, business research, social science research and biological and health science research.