The newly appointed President of the state-run University of Liberia (UL), Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, will be inducted into office today. Dr Weeks succeeds Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, who served the university as president from 2009 to 2016.
Dr. Weeks was unanimously endorsed by the UL Board of Trustees in March this year following thorough scrutiny of candidates that applied for the position. She becomes the 14th president and second female president following Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman, daughter of former Chief Justice Louis Arthur Grimes (class of 1903), in whose honor the UL Law School is named.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Visitor of the University, and a host of government officials, UL alumni, guests from private institutions, friends and family are expected to attend the induction ceremony to be held at the UL Fendell campus.
Dr. Weeks is a retired professor of the Florida International University (FIU). Upon her retirement from FIU, she returned to Liberia and joined the UL faculty as Dean of the Science College. She was subsequently promoted to the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs. Based on her appearance and disposition, some managerial experts describe her as “conscientious,” a personality trait that depicts humility, quietude, carefulness.
Even though it is difficult for every student to know the UL president, considering the bureaucratic process associated with this, Dr. Weeks’ personality has caused many students not to recognize her when she is among them. During the resumption of academic activities following Ebola epidemic in 2015, many were left in shock to see her for the first time, as she simply appeared like any of the students.
It is not yet known what plans this second Dr. Weeks presidency (the first being her father, Dr. Rocheforte L Weeks who was UL president from 1959 to 1972) has for the university in the years to come. Whatever the latitude of her inaugural address, students, instructors and the nation expect to hear her tackle the fundamental issue of adequate financial support from the government for overall improvements in salaries, student transportation, instructional materials and equipment, renovations of the academic and science complexes on the Fendell campus and a myriad of corrective actions, developments and expansions that are long overdue at this restive, underdeveloped institution.
As a scientist, she will no doubt work to raise the standard of the College of Science and Technology and the medical college but she is expected to balance her time and attention to raising standards across the entire spectrum of learning and administration at the University.
Her challenge is to make the UL, Liberia’s oldest tertiary institution founded in 1862, the preeminent university in the country in terms of academic and professional excellence and impact on the nation.