The Southeastern city of Harper in Maryland County was a scene of wild jubilation and celebration as the William V.S. Tubman University, known simply as TU, held its first commencement convocation with 80 students walking out of its walls with degrees in various disciplines.
The commencement convocation of Tubman University yesterday is the first of that university since its accreditation.
Liberians in that part of the country were amazed, according to them, because government’s decentralization plans, especially in the area of education where degrees were now being granted outside of Monrovia by a government institution of higher learning, was now being joyfully realized.
The Graduation ceremony took place at the newly dedicated Harper Administrative Building. The hall could not host the entire crowd because it was full to capacity, leaving many outside watching the ceremony on a large TV screen.
Others had to be stationed under tents where the ceremonies were brought to them live by the way of video through the means of technology.
Serving as the first commencement speaker of the university was President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who, according to TU president Dr. Elizabeth Davis Russell, was reaping the fruits of her labor because she was very instrumental, supportive and dedicated in ensuring that TU became what it is today, a full fledged university.
President Sirleaf said the day was a great one in the life of the graduates, the TU families who have together striven to make the day a reality in the lives of all Liberians who have the vision to ensure that Liberian children receive quality education.
She described the university as the pride of Maryland County and the country’s southeastern region.
“Today is a most extraordinary day, an exciting day, a day to be proud, proud in remembrance of our 18th President, who I considered as the best president and not me. I’m proud to be associated TU, proud to be celebrating a milestone at this institution, which is the pride of Maryland County,”
“We applaud each and every one of you who have made it happen. Because of you TU is a living testimony to its motto, to provide quality education and experiences that transform lives,” she averred.
The Liberian leader said quality education requires sacrifices, not only on the part of the providers, but also the beneficiaries and all stakeholders.
She called on the graduating class to exemplify true patriotism and act like educated people who have the thought of always inquiring and making of good judgments that will benefit all. That, she declared, “is the essence of education.
“We know a well educated person when we see one, but we see people who we expect to be educated acting in ways that we can say do not represent the educated,” she said.
“You can buy a degree, but you cannot buy an education,” President Sirleaf told the graduates.
She said quality education is that which is nationally relevant and globally competitive. She emphasized that TU is making tremendous progress in its providing universities quality education in a short period of time. This compare favorably with other universities that have been around for a while now, she observed.
She termed the graduates as a new breed of southeasterners and Liberias who should strive to make a difference in the society. Being the first products of the university, they should serve as a shining examples to the rest of the students.
“Quality education is not cheap. It is not cheap neither for the provider nor the beneficiaries,”
She urged the TU administration to continue to empower Liberian youths, especially those from that region, not only in instilling in them academic training, but leadership values that bring sanity to mankind.
She lauded TU president, Dr. Elizabeth Davis- Russell, whom, President Sirleaf termed as a shining and unequal example of a servant to her country; for the equality of work that is impacting the lives of many young Liberians.
She however joking urged the TU administration to help bridged the huge disparity between the females and males by correcting the imbalance so that next graduation will witness a good number of females walking out of TU’s walls.
The graduates, whom comprise of 13 females and 67 males, were were awarded Bachelor Science (BSc), Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA) degrees, respectively.
The school operates six colleges, including the College of Engineering and Technology. But this college was unable to put out graduates because it was the consensus amongst students and instructors that the students in this college should finish their courses have and gain the requisite practical knowledge and experience before they are cleared for graduation.
The Colleges in this category include: Health Sciences, Agriculture and Food Science, Education, Management and administration, Arts and Sciences and Engineering and Technology.
TU became a degree granting institution in 2009 after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf mandated the president, Dr. Elizabeth Davis Russell, to access every means and ensure that the institution is up-graded to a university level.
“This ceremony is indeed a dream come true for us because it tells us how far we have come as an institution,” president Elizabeth Davis Russell said.
Dr. Russell conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on the Liberian leader.
TU, which was then known as Tubman College of Technology, at the time of its establishment in 1978. Upon the ascendancy of Dr. Russell in 2008 the student population was 200. Today it is 1000 students in the six colleges.