The search for a new president of the University of Liberia finally came to an end on April 27, when the institution’s Board of Trustees endorsed Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks as its 14th president.
She replaces Dr. Emmet Dennis who retired last December.
Before her election Dr. Weeks, an outstanding neuroscientist, was UL’s Vice President for Academic Affairs. She has held administrative positions in the university since 2012. She was Dean of the T. J. R. Faulkner College of Science and Technology.
Dr. Weeks becomes the second woman to lead the UL since its founding in 1951. She follows the late Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman who, in 1978, made history in Liberia and Africa by becoming the first female president of a university on the continent of Africa.
Other women who have served as university presidents in Liberia are the late Dr. Louise York, African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) in Monrovia, and Dr. Elizabeth Davies, president of the Tubman University in Harper, Cape Palmas, Maryland County.
Although Dr. Dennis has stepped down from the UL presidency, he will remain at the university, dividing his time between teaching medical students at the A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine and undergraduate students of the T. J. R. Faulkner College of Science and Technology.
A release from the UL said Dr. Weeks has had a long history with UL, going back to her childhood when, from age seven, she resided with her family on the Capitol campus in Richardson Cottage, during the presidency of her father Rocheforte who became the third, but first Liberian president of UL.
Ophelia once told the Daily Observer, “I have lived on a university campus practically all my life.” Following her graduation with honors from the College of West Africa (CWA), she also lived on the UL campus as a resident freshman student.
As an academic, Dr. Weeks’ relationship with the UL actually began to take shape in 2006 when she served as a guest lecturer of first year medical students at A. M. Dogliotti.
She returned in 2007 as a visiting professor to teach neuroanatomy and again in 2011 spent six months at UL during her sabbatical from the Florida International University, her parent university in the USA.
During that period, she served as technical advisor to the Dean of UL’s Medical College, and also taught an HIV/AIDS course to first and second year medical students, and an undergraduate version of the course to second year non-science majors.
In 2012, Dr. Weeks returned from the Florida International University to assist UL’s rebuilding efforts, during which time she was recruited to serve as the Dean of the College of Science and Technology.
Dr. Weeks has more than 30 years of experience working in academia. In 1986, she was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Biological Science Department at Florida International University in Miami, where she rose through the ranks to full time professor. She retired with honors in January 2017, after 30 years of service, during which period she received numerous awards.