FOUNDER’S ADDRESS TO ABUAD 2011 ACADEMIC STAFF ON WEDNESDAY, 5TH JANUARY, 2011
I welcome you all to the commencement of academic work this year. I welcome our new academic staff in particular to this great citadel of learning. It is my expectation that you all had a well-deserved rest during the holidays.
I wish to use this opportunity to congratulate Prof. M.O. Ajisafe on his appointment as the first Deputy Vice-Chancellor. This appointment was made in recognition of his dedication, selflessness and unquantifiable contribution to the growth of ABUAD. It is indeed well-deserved.
Academic work resumed here in ABUAD on the 4th of January, 2010. This fact is largely unknown to people who have since come into contact with the wonder that ABUAD is today. Most of these persons are of the view that ABUAD is at least three or four years old. This is a testimony to the dedication, hard-work, sacrifice and perseverance of the planning and implementation committee, and those responsible for construction work headed by Prof. OlatunjiOrubuloye and later by the pioneer staff. It is through their efforts that ABUAD is what it is today.
Even as late as 21st December, 2011 His Excellency General (Dr) Yakubu Gowon described the University as a 21st Century University with finesse.
For the pioneer staff, it has not been easy in view of the challenges they had to face. But you have risen commendably to whatever challenges have come your way. I personally relish challenges. Therefore, I would jump at the opportunity of being a pioneer at anything. I congratulate you for a job well done.
CHALLENGES OF THE PAST YEAR
The past year has been eventful. I must confess however that most of the challenges with which we had to contend with were not contemplated by me. It has taken a lot of hardwork and energy to surmount them and bring ABUAD to the point it is today. The economy has not been helpful. Shares which were bought at N38 per unit in 2007 are not worth more than N12 per unit today. This will give you an idea of how difficult it has been to keep things up and running. The unstable political climate in Ekiti has also hindered development to the extent that many parents often complain of accessibility.
Aside from the poor state of the economy and the roads, we have also had challenges in other areas and aspects of the University’s existence. I must make particular mention of the conduct of some students. I have since realized that the present times are different from those of my generation were born and raised. In those times, respect for teachers and elders was a convention. Students were respectful, obedient and well behaved. They were strong in health and character. However, times have changed.
In this University, we have mostly children from privileged background. Unfortunately, most parents now see their privileged status as an excuse not to inculcate in their children the moral values which were taught when we were young. In their quest to give to their children the things which they (the parents) did not have, they have forgotten to give the children some of the things such as proper home grooming and training which they (the parents) actually had. The result is that most of the children have developed often difficult personality traits. In addition, they are also not as physically strong as we were. But we must soldier on in line with the vision of the University of producing graduates sound not only in learning but also in moral makeup. We must remain truthful to the vision of this University of leading education reform by example.
NEW TEACHERS: DICHOTOMY BETWEEN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES
This aspect of this address is directed mainly to our new lecturers. I have already on several occasions addressed the pioneer teachers amongst you on some of the points which I will shortly make.
I am aware that most of you attended public institutions. The few who did not attend public institutions must have taught in public institutions or have been taught by teachers who themselves attended public institutions. This may unwittingly have affected your perception of what University education should be.
ABUAD as you know is a private institution. There is therefore a need for you to recognize the difference between a public and private higher institution of learning in terms of institutions.
Public Universities are established by governments (Federal or State) and the owner is a legal entity known as the Visitor. The legal entity (the Visitor may or may not visit the University physically throughout his tenure of five or eight years. Indeed he is not obliged to visit or even know physically the location of the University. On the contrary, the founder of a private University has a vision and mission which he is out to accomplish. He has personal interest in achieving that goal. Personal Interest is an important factor in achieving one’s goal. On the contrary, the Visitor of a public institution has no personal interest and in some cases no tangible interest, material or pecuniary interest at all.
The public University is not only established with public fund but is also maintained mainly with public funds. The annual budget of public university is submitted to the Ministry of Education annually for approval to access public funds. The budget of a private university goes to the Board of Trustees headed by the founder whose responsibility is to look for funds
All capital projects in public universities are funded by government whereas all capital projects in private universities are funded by the founder.
In this University’s distinguished fellows lecture delivered on March 19, 2010 by Prof. Arthur M. Sussman titled “The Private University and American Higher Education” the learned Professor said:
“Trustees (i.e. Board of Trustees) are responsible for management of assets, selection of president and employment of faculty and staff”.
In the case of public universities the management of assets and the employment of faculty and staff are matters for the Council while the Chairman is selected by the Visitor. In a private University, the Founder is the automatic Chancellor/President or his nominees.
The difference in philosophy between the Public and Private University ultimately affects the psyche of teachers in both institutions. In Nigeria there is a general attitude that a worker does not have to perspire when doing a government job. This brings about a laissez faire attitude on the part of most members of the academic community in public Universities. Over the past decades, industrial actions have become the rule rather than the exception in negotiations with Government over whatever shortcomings have been noticed in the administration and funding of Universities.
In private Universities, there is, of course, zero tolerance for unseriousness. The culture of detachment does not exist in private Universities. Service in private Universities is one of absolute loyalty, industry, commitment, integrity, punctuality and strict discipline unknown in public Universities.
TEACHING AS A VOCATION
Teaching is a vocation much like the legal and medical professions. It is therefore expected that anybody who takes up teaching as a profession should do so out of love for teaching. In times past, teachers used to be well-paid and respected in their communities. Ladies and gentlemen, when I obtained my first degree, B.Sc (Economics) of London University by private study, it was my desire to become a university lecturer with the ultimate goal of becoming a professor. To us at that time, teaching was accorded the dignified status it deserved. They were well remunerated. Up till today, lecturers in Overseas Universities are still well remunerated. In any society meeting or social parties, lecturers were acknowledged and respected better than civil servants, bankers or politicians.
However, the old order has changed. In recent times, there has been a gradual decline in the welfare of teachers at every level of our educational system. This decline has not been helped by the actions and even utterances of those who have found themselves in positions of power. A former governor once remarked that a person does not need University degree or need to become a professor before becoming a governor. According to him, everybody is qualified to become a Governor of a State. All you need is to make your way there.
ABUAD is established to reform education, to train and turn out quality graduates and to bring about the lost glory of teaching profession.
ABUAD OF OUR DREAM
We have put in place structures which are unequalled in terms of aesthetic beauty. We however realize that the human element is relevant in determining the greatness of any university. We therefore want our teachers to see themselves as the best available in relation to quality of education. They are ipso facto not the ordinary lecturer or professor of other universities of Nigeria. They are special specie.
ABUAD is concerned with the welfare of teaches. It is only when the teachers are happy and are assured of a better future that they can positively care for their students. It is for this reason that we are considering insurance scheme for the staff, as well as contributory scheme where the University will contribute 50% – 100% to what the staff pays. ABUAD will support individual housing scheme and guarantee loans for teachers to purchase furniture, cars etc. ABUAD will also support medical scheme for the health of teachers.
EXPECTATION FROM TEACHERS
In response, ABUAD expects from you the following:
(i) Absolute Loyalty
Absolute loyalty to the Founder is expected from all members of staff. There is no room for dishonest practices either in admission matters, examination, accommodation, teaching, research etc. There is no room for semi, partial or divided loyalty.
Every member of staff is expected to do his very best at all times. As you may have observed, the motto of this institution is labor, servitiumetintegritasmeaning work, service and integrity. All these are emphasized in ABUAD anthem. Both students and teachers are expected to memorize the school anthem and sing it before the first lesson commences. I believe in hard work. The teachers in this institution are not expected to teach one or two subjects and disappear from the University, but are expected to research, work and participate in University activities until the end of the day’s work. Please refer to the staff handbook. Classical examples are; a lady who once taught eight subjects and engaged in extracurricular activities without complaining. There was another lady who worked for eight months without pay. There is a young teacher who serves the University in almost all areas.
The University is expected to serve the student and the immediate community. We have embarked on programmes to make this institution serve the immediate community. All members of staff must show interest and participate in it. You are not expected to close your eyes to the developments going around you as if you are the typical civil servant or a teacher in public institution who only works for his pay.
We expect every member of staff to be men and women of integrity. Examination results should be released on time. Scripts must be marked on time. Assignments must be marked timeously and all staff rules must be complied with religiously. It is a grave offence to favour a student particularly the opposite sex for any reward.
Time in this ABUAD is sacred. Life is time. Time is life. Every minute you waste is irretrievable. There is no ‘African time’ in ABUAD. We are out to change the attitude of Nigerians to the bastardization of the use of time. Teachers are to keep register of attendance.
Staff are expected to consider themselves as part of the institution and not just work and go. They are to ensure that the University rules are kept. They are to check any student breaching the rules and report any misdeed or breach of rules to the authority. They are expected to make suggestions on how to achieve our goals. My door is opened to all.
(vii) Decency and Cleanliness
Staff are expected to be clean, well-dressed and descent in their behavior. Like father, like son. So too, like teachers, like students. We want to lead others by example in our behaviour generally. A teacher who sees any refuse on the lawn should not walk away as if it does not concern him. The other day a Professor visited this University, after about three hours, he said: “when these students leave this institution, they would be product of cleanliness and decency unknown to Nigeria.”
At the end of every semester, students will evaluate teachers while the teachers will evaluate students. We use these materials to assess teachers and students.
(ix) Use of offices and staff quarters
ABUAD is out to change our attitude to maintenance. It is said that Nigerians have no maintenance culture. It is a wrong notion. In our days, we were taught in school how to take care of our properties. The decadence in maintenance of property is a recent development. Here, teachers are expected to carefully and neatly maintain the office and staff quarters, furniture etc. The DVC will ensure that every forthright a team goes round to ensure compliance with students and staff handbook. These are very important documents which I urge you to read and implement.
Teachers must ensure that there is strict compliance with the rules about dressing, punctuality, use of telephone, laptop etc.
Teachers are expected/ to give assignments to students regularly, mark and discuss.
In this regard, we have ensured that the initial take-home pay of our teachers is higher than that of Federal and State Governments owned Universities and other Private Universities. We want our teachers to have a feeling of satisfaction and uniqueness. In addition, each teacher has a personal contract unlike the situation in other universities. Therefore, what a teacher earns and his chances of promotion would depend largely on his productivity and dedication. A teacher therefore may earn more than his contemporaries due to his or her productivity.
As time goes on Deo Volentiour teachers pay will equal what their counterparts earn overseas.
TEACHING METHOD AND QUALITY DELIVERY
It is public knowledge that our University has a most conducive environment for learning. It is also a fact that we have modern teaching facilities.
Recently, a first class Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in University of Delaware, USA wrote on ABUAD and said:
“… for the first time, an institution with potentials for international reputation has now been established in Nigeria.”
My task is to transform this acclaimed modern University to a reputable international status that would eventually win a place in the first 1000 best Universities in the world within the next few years.
The highly reputable Universities like Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Caltech, Cambridge, Oxford etc achieved international reputation for several reasons;
(i) Very knowledgeable, high caliber and highly dedicated faculty i.e. Professors and Lecturers.
(ii) Well developed academic curriculum;
(iii) Well defined teaching and research philosophy;
(iv) Continuous development of young academic Professors and lecturers
(v) Continuous recruitment of young and fresh Ph.D graduates.
(vi) Insatiable appetite for research and publication;
(vii) Routine publication on internet, conferences and symposium;
(viii) Uninterrupted academic calendar;
(ix) Modern teaching method;
(x) Adoption and compliance with webometrics ranking otherwise known as Berlin Principles on ranking of Higher Education Institution which was launched in 2004.
What I expect from the teaching staff at all times therefore is quality teaching. Teachers must be presentable, likeable, pleasant in manner, friendly, communicative, persuasive, fatherly or motherly and corporately dressed.
On Saturday 8th January, 2011 all teachers are expected to attend a day seminar on teaching method, which I call ABUAD teaching method. I shall DV present a paper.
On the 21st of this month, we shall celebrate the 2nd founder’s day. His Excellency, General (Dr) Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, Ph.D will deliver the 2nd Personality Lecture. This will be followed by scholarships, merit award and matriculation ceremony. The Founder believes in acknowledging achievements and celebrating achievements. Some of the pioneer teachers and other members of staff have distinguished themselves in many ways. They will be acknowledged and celebrated on that day. It is hoped that by so doing you will be encouraged and inspired to win similar award(s) next year.
The contents of this address represent the ideas, experience and wishes of the founder. For those of you who do not come here merely to earn a living, what I have said so far should not be strange to you.
Ladies and gentlemen, this institution is not set up for profit but to raise the standards of education in this country by example. There are no shareholders but liability guarantors. We are the first of its type in this country. Consider yourselves as part of the movement for change.
I appeal to you all to make your own contribution not as consideration for your pay but as contribution to the transformation of education in Nigeria. God bless.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR,CON,SAN,LL.D,FCI.Arb,FNIALS