To improve several of its programs, the Bong County-based premier institution, Cuttington University (CU), has introduced several new academic programs, the president, Dr. Hernique F. Tokpa, has disclosed.
While charging the recent graduates, who formed part of the 53rd Commencement Convocation, Dr. Tokpa informed the audience that his administration had introduced what he called, an “Institute of Excellence in Teaching and Learning.”
The Institute of Excellence in Teaching Program, he said, is for a post diploma in higher education, and was initiated for lecturers who have little or nothing to formal teaching experience.
“There are eight candidates, who completed the course and received the post-graduate diplomas, and 25 transferable credits to the CU Graduate School where they may receive a Master’s degree in teaching.”
At the same time, Dr. Tokpa disclosed that the CU Student Affairs has begun a counseling service where counselors are currently provide sessions in the areas of drug and alcohol abuse, emotional distress, general anxiety disorder, etc.
According to him, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences earlier this year, launched the first edition of an international peer-review academic journal (CUJLASS). The journal is published annually, and the maiden edition features scholarly articles from around the world.
Also, the College of Business and Public Administration completed its academic restructuring and is currently implementing its 2-year strategic plan to make the college academically attractive and appealing to students.
Dr. Tokpa further disclosed that the College of Allied Health Sciences, will beginning this academic semester, start offering degrees in Radiology, Medical Laboratory Technology, Environmental Heath, Midwifery and Physician Assistant (PA) in addition to the Nursing degree being offered by CU.
As for the College of Education, Dr. Tokpa said four visually impaired/disabled students under the “Special Education Program” successfully completed their courses of study in their respective chosen disciplines, and therefore earned Bachelor’s degrees at the just held commencement. Eleven of them entered the CU in 2009.
Cuttington, he said, has, through its good relationship with EHELD/USAID program, established a multi-purpose soil laboratory where soil PH analysis can be done. Student practical activities have been intensified with the production of vegetables and animals including goats and snails.
In another development, the CU administration through its vice president for the Graduate School, Dr. Roosevelt Jayjay, has honored Dr. Tokpa for his commitment to the institution, where the students enrollment has increased from 350 to over 4, 000 students.
At the same time also, Dr. Tokpa, a just-ended world conference held in Mumbai—India, won this year’s prestigious “Award of the World Chancellors and Vice Chancellors Congress” for his outstanding contributions to education.
In response shortly the Award was presented to him over the weekend at the CU Graduate School in Monrovia, Dr. Tokpa, expressed gratitude for the Award and the honor bestowed upon him by the two distinct institutions.
“For this Award and the honor, I am honored and feels honor, but I dedicated this international Award to the faculty and staff of Cuttington. I have been with CU for 26 years; 12 of which I served both as the president, as well as the principal for the Kindergarten to 12th grade,” Dr. Tokpa asserted.
The honoring ceremony, which coincided with the representation of the Award, was attended by a cross-section professors and instructors as well as well-wishers from the undergraduate and graduate schools.
CU’s Historical Perspective
In 1889, Cuttington Collegiate and Divinity School was founded in Cape Palmas, Maryland County by the Episcopal Church in Liberia. The school was named in honor of Robert Fulton Cutting, then treasurer of the Episcopal Church in the United States. He gave US$5,000 to Bishop Samuel David Ferguson, then Bishop of Liberia, to purchase land on which to build a school “for the establishment of a manual labor farm, which should afford opportunity for practical instruction of the boys in the mission schools and at the same time serve as a pattern for others.” On February 22, 1889, Bishop Ferguson laid the cornerstone for the first building and named it Epiphany Hall. Epiphany is a Christian festival celebrating Jesus Christ’s divinity; a Christian festival making the visit of the Magi to celebrate Jesus’ birth or in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the baptism of Jesus Christ.
The curriculum was further divided into four departments: Agricultural and Industrial, Theological, Preparatory, and Collegiate under the leadership of the Rev. M.P.K Valentine, M.A., the first president of Cuttington Collegiate and Divinity School.
In 1949, Cuttington was reopened through the instrumentality of the late Bishop Bravid W. Harris, then Bishop of Liberia.
Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, who succeeded Dr. Melvin J. Mason, as president of CU in 2002, had transformed CU to its present level where the students’ enrollment had increased from 300 to say, over 4,000 students.
In 2004, CU started a Graduate School in Monrovia, offering Master’s degrees in four areas: Business, Education, Nursing, and Theology.
In 2007, CU established a Junior College Program at the St. Augustine’s Episcopal High School in Kakata, Margibi County to cater to the academic needs of students, who graduate from high schools in that county and its immediate environs. The program currently offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in the fields of Nursing, Public Administration, Sociology, Management and Accounting.
The institution has challenges and opportunities in the reconstruction of a new society for the 21st Century. As its campus is built in stages, CU seeks not only to restore its former programs, but also to expand them and develop new ones to meet the needs of a post-conflict nation, which is learning to deal with the aftermath of a 14-year long civil conflict.