The Association of Liberian Universities (ALU) has honoured two prominent Liberian educators who have served the sector with passion, commitment and diligence in promoting education.
The honourees are Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, former president of Cuttington University in Bong County and Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, former president of William V.S. Tubman University in Maryland County.
Dr. Tokpa, who is currently the Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA), served the university for 13 years and the government and people of Liberia (1974 to 1984).
He served in the Ministry of Education as a Secondary Education Planner, Director of Planning, Management and Education, Senior Regional Supervisor for Southeast Region and Asst. Minister for Planning and Management.
In furtherance of his service, Dr. Tokpa went back to serve his alma mater, Cuttington University College in 1987 and remained there until 2015.
During that period he served in the capacities of Assistant Professor of Economics, Vice President for Administration and Planning and Vice President for Development.
During the civil crisis, and under the administration of Dr. Melvin Mason, he attempted to steer the CUC ship. He invigorated the alumni association and managed the Cuttington-in-Exile program and the affairs of the institution in the absence of the president.
In 2012, he was elected as president of the university, a position he held until 2015. During that period, he started the Cuttington Graduate School, Junior College and instituted university scholarship programs for valedictorians from all high schools in Bong County to Cuttington, and a work-study program for Cuttington students who cannot afford the tuition, but showed a desire to succeed.
Dr. Russell, who served the Tubman College from 2009 to 2016, produced 428 graduates, (104 females, 324 males) thereby adding to the workforce, 70 teachers, 95 agriculturalists, 68 engineers, 86 nurses and public health specialists, 109 management and administration specialists.
During her tenure at the college, Dr. Russell renovated 13 of 15 destroyed buildings; constructed six new buildings, including 28 new units of faculty housing, and the Monrovia office; an academic annex for administrators; RSTI hosting the College of Engineering and Technology and the almost completed agriculture laboratory.
Prof. Monie R. Captan, former Foreign Affairs Minister, who served as keynote speaker of the occasion, hailed the two honorees for promoting education in Liberia and molding the minds of young people.
Mr. Captan told the gathering that the two honorees did their best to serve the country’s education sector, under-resourced and under-capacitated by the government, but they did so with courage and commitment.
“We, your compatriots, must take our hats off to you and say a big thank you for a job well done that exemplifies true patriotism and altruism,” Prof. Captan said.
In his response, Dr. Tokpa expressed gratitude to the ALU for the honor.
“This is my home. My father who was the grass cutter, was given a piece of land to farm and as my friend said, yes, I ate leftover food from the cafeteria. To go through all of that and come back and serve Cuttington, is a reason for all of us to give God the glory,” he said.
Dr. Tokpa thanked his wife for standing by him and said, excluding the years he and his wife dated, they have been married for more than 37 years. He also thanked his staff and faculty members for standing by him through good and bad times.
For her part, Dr. Russell also commended President Sirleaf and her staff for giving her the opportunity to serve the institution.