-Newly inducted President Coleman
Dr. Albert Byrleton Coleman, the newly inducted president of the United Methodist University (UMU), has promised to focus on programs that will impact national development — with initial plans that will ensure the educational facilities are conducive for learning.
In February 2019, the Board of Directors appointed him as the fifth president of the UMU.
Dr. Coleman made the statement on Thursday, April 25, 2019 during his induction ceremony as the fifth president of the university. He said that the overall goal of the country’s higher education system should be making Liberia great among comity of nations in academics.
“We as a nation, institutions of higher education learning, should agree that our plans and programs should be geared toward developing men and women who are able to meet the manpower needs for national development. To this, we must commit to support education in all areas, while ensuring that institutions of higher learning are held accountable to produce the manpower needs for Liberia,” Dr. Coleman said.
According to him, institutions of higher learning must be able to provide for the enhancement of Liberia’s intellect, and drive our national economic progress, adding, “their contributions to national development are particularly critical at this point, and time in our history.”
Dr. Coleman spoke on the theme, “Can Higher Education Solve the Problems of Liberia — What does it contribute to Liberia’s future?”
According to him, the qualifications of Liberian youth will determine the future course of the country, “because their qualifications will provide the basis for their leadership and accomplishments.”
“We believe that higher education can, and will contribute considerably to the current national dialogues and has the ability to address our many problems. It will also give us the skills to reduce poverty and ensure endurance for national prosperity,” he said.
Dr. Coleman said the importance of higher education in national development and prosperity has been and continues to be evident throughout history and still exists. “Liberia’s future depends upon a quality higher education system to produce leaders, who will move the country in progressive direction. Higher education can extend the possibilities of our society and guarantees the intellectual capital for development and sustained wealth reduce poverty,” he said.
Dr. Coleman called on higher institutions to seize on the opportunity to improve teaching and research, and step away from scallops to global development, noting, “the purpose of education should be to produce the manpower, which will guide, shape and enrich Liberia’s national identity.”
He said the higher education should create greater potential for development, and serve as a resource for continued human development and the eradication of poverty from the country.
Coleman then challenged stakeholders of the country’s higher education in Liberia to be capable of creating healthy attitudes and behaviors for nationhood to ensure continual security, with mutual respect among the many diverse cultural and ethnic groups.
This capacity, he said must be strongly linked with basic and secondary education through a rigorous and focused academic program that ensure a well-educated student.
Dr. Coleman called on political leaders and business people to be committed to create a comprehensive and cohesive group of higher education institutions, which will focus on key sectors of development including agriculture, health, energy, management, transportation and forestry.
“We must be willing to extend the possibilities for second chance opportunities to those who fall by the wayside but develop and encourage affiliated businesses to use the creative capacity of higher education community to generate income and economic potential for our country and enable them train and apply their potential toward national development and prosperity,” he suggested.
Dr. Coleman said the UMU has begun the process of reorienting its curriculum with emphasis on research, but will be intensified. “It requires changing behaviors and attitudes of our administrators, instructors, students and staffs. These steps are intended to provide a direction, scope, recognizing our limitations and the needs that exist,” he said.
To the administrative staff, he added, “We are on this team to change UMU, but we must do so more together; more often; intensely and pro-actively to further elevate the university to a place among the region’s premier private universities. Remember, our common approach should not be to benefit ourselves, but UMU, which will help national development and change Liberia…”
About Dr. Coleman
Dr. Coleman received his early educational foundation from the Careysburg Public School, and graduated from the Lott Carey Mission High School in Brewerville, outside Monrovia. He later attended the Cuttington College, now Cuttington University in Suakoko, Bong County, where he obtained his undergraduate degree in Teacher Education.
Dr. Coleman is a graduate of the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, United States of America, where he earned his Master’s in teacher Education, and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Educational Administration, respectively.
At the Southern Illinois University, Dr. Coleman served as a Teaching Assistant in the College of Education, Department of Educational Leadership as a doctoral student.
In Liberia, he served as the director of Teacher Education, Director for Technical and Professional Education, Country Team Leader for “Improving the Efficiency of Educational System IEES), which was implemented by the Florida State University and Assistant Minister for Teacher Education at the Ministry of Education, prior to the country’s 14-long year civil war.
The UMU’s History
The UMU is privately-owned by the Liberia Annual Conference (LCA) of the United Methodist Church (UMC). It is a faith-based Christian co-educational institution of higher learning that was established in 1998, but officially began operations in January, 2000 during the Liberia civil war (1989-2003).
Since the inception of the UMU, the Board of Trustees has made efforts to partner with the Africa University in Zimbabwe. It was agreed in principle, that the UMU could serve as the West Africa Satellite Campus of Africa University.