The reconstituted Board of Governors of Booker Washington Institute (BWI) convened its first meeting on May 21, and scheduled elections of its new chairman and vice chairman for October 8. The scheduled meeting was held at the institute on Saturday during which Jackson J.
Paye, a civil engineer, who is Deputy Minister of Public Works for Rural Development and Community Services, was elected as Chairman of the Board. Mr. Ezzat Eid, a prominent businessman and President of the World Lebanese Cultural Union, was elected Vice Chairman. The two officials were elected on white ballots.
In his acceptance speech, Deputy Minister Paye thanked William Gyude Moore, Minister of Public Works, for the opportunity given him to represent the ministry on the Board of BWI, the school which he said gave him more than he can possibly give back.
Mr. Paye recounted his fond memories of his days on BWI as a student, a student leader, and a Cadet Corps Commander of the school’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Course (ROTC) program, all of which propelled him in a significant way to what he later became in life.
He stated that whatever further education a graduate of BWI gets, the foundation was laid at the institute; a premier vocational institute as well as a bastion of academic excellence. Graduates of the school have not only gone on to become top notch technicians, but also gone on to become civil engineers, medical doctors, academicians, administrators, etc.
Mr. Paye expressed gratitude to members of the Board who unanimously elected him, and called upon them to give their fullest support so as to realize President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s desire to make BWI a school of excellence. He pledged to work hard with the administration to build on the foundation others before him built to restore BWI to its prewar status and if possible exceed it.
Mr. Paye thanked Kenneth Y. Best, who was teary eyed at this point, for his leadership and commitment to BWI over the years, and for quietly working behind the scenes to get him elected, hence passing the baton to him.
He admitted that the shoes Mr. Best is leaving behind to fill as chair are huge, but said he is delighted that Mr. Best will be around to guide him.
Mr. Paye meanwhile called on all members of the Board, the alumni association, the faculty and staff of the institute, and all well wishers, to work with the principal and the Board of Governors in making BWI second to none in Liberia.
For his part, Mr. Eid thanked Mr. Best for passing on the leadership to a new generation, while he sits and guides.
“It is better to do that, while you are strong, to correct and guide your successor,” Mr. Eid jokingly remarked. He pledged to do all within his power to work with the institute to achieve its goals. He made several generous offers to the Board and the institute, including a large conference table and chairs for board meetings, and the hosting of a Board Meeting at the Royal Grand Hotel once a year to encourage the ministers to attend. He said that hosting a Board Meeting on BWI may not be attractive to the ministers because it requires a whole day.
In March 2016, President Sirleaf, as Chairman Ex-Officio, reconstituted the Board of Governors of the BWI. According to the BWI Charter, the institute shall be under the government of a Board of Governors, which shall have perpetual succession of members to be chosen and appointed by the President as Chair Ex-Officio. The members of the Board shall not exceed 17, of which nine are statutory and eight widely representing the entire public and private sectors and may be nominated by reason of their office.
It is in execution of her responsibility that President Sirleaf reconstituted the BWI Board of Governors by appointing several prominent individuals including Ezzat Eid, owner of several businesses in Liberia; Charif Abdallah, businessman; Bill Morris, a Liberian Rubber Farmer;
Alexander Cummings, a politician; Upjit Singh Sachdeva (Jeety), businessman; Kenneth Y. Best, newspaper proprietor, alumnus and outgoing Chairman, to the Board. Statutory members of the Board are the Ministries of Public Works, Youth and Sports, Finance and
Development Planning, Agriculture, and Labor; BWI Alumni Association, Margibi County Administration (Superintendent), NASSCORP, Firestone-Liberia, and the Principal/CEO of BWI, who serves as Secretary to the Board; while the Ministry of Education, is an Ex-Officio member.
At the conclusion of the meeting, which included reports from the administration, Mr. Best thanked all for the very fruitful and well attended meeting (13 of 17 members were in attendance, two excused absences for travel, and two absent).
He lauded the principal, Attorney H. Fomba Tarnue, Esq., for significant progress made since his appointment in January this year.
Mr. Best enumerated several achievements including dramatically increasing the number of boarding students, the hosting of exhibitions featuring works of students at Founders’ Day, and the reinstitution of the ROTC program, among others.
He also expressed his and the Board’s appreciation to the Minister of Defense, Brownie J. Samukai Jr. for bringing back the ROTC program to BWI.
Mr. Best pledged to work with Governor Paye to ensure the smooth operation of their alma mater, and lauded him for his love of BWI, which he exhibited by his many contributions now and in years past.