The president of the University of Liberia (UL) has outlined strategic plans aimed at improving operations and academic activities throughout the university system in a bid to bring it on par with top learning institutions across Africa and the world.
In a speech she delivered at the 2nd Annual Convention of the University of Liberia Alumni Association in the Americas (ULIBAAA) recently, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks said the University of Liberia is in the process of establishing the Personnel Evaluation and Enhancement Program (PEEP) to help determine effectiveness and efficiency on the job.
According to her, this will help determine mechanisms that need to be put in place to increase productivity, as well as to offer opportunities for staff to attain advanced degrees and participate in job-related refresher workshops, seminars, symposia and short courses.
“This will allow us to retain productive personnel, to re-tool and re-train dedicated and committed staff who need enhancement, and allow us to minimize deadwood,” she said.
Dr. Weeks, whose late father, Rocheforte L. Weeks, Sr., served as the third UL president from 1959-1972, and the first Liberian appointed to that post, pointed out that under the PEEP program, the school will implement its newly developed Teaching & Learning Center (TLC).
Commenting on curricular issues, Dr. Weeks said it is the hope of the University to complete reviewing and revising all academic programs that have not been reviewed for the past five years. She disclosed that a new policy has been put in place that mandates a five-year review cycle.
“We will also begin the process of introducing hybrid and online courses at UL before the end of 2018,” said Weeks.
On program development, Dr. Weeks noted that the five undergraduate and three graduate programs will be established in the next four years. They are the Mechanical Engineering, Architecture, Information Communications Technology, Fisheries, and Honors College undergraduate programs .
For graduate programs, she disclosed that the University will offer Masters in Public Health, Environmental Sciences, and a Public Financial Management & Public Procurement Program within the existing graduate Business/Public Administration program.
“Some of these programs will require less than three years because the developmental process is already underway. Others will take more than three years due to the complexity of the program, and availability of funding,” Dr. Weeks said.
On students’ success, she stated that the school is on the road to realizing a fully functioning Testing & Evaluation Center; one that is not limited to entrance exams.
“We hope to put in place a Students Success & Service Center that will contribute to correcting the existing chaotic and defective student union financial aid program, restore discipline, and infuse good leadership training for our students,” she indicated.
“The University of Liberia Student Union Financial Aid Program needs improved oversight, with the introduction of a more structured merit-based and needs-based selection system and process that is fair and transparent. And there needs to be more structured psycho-social and mind education programs for our students,” Dr. Weeks explained.
On the issue of infrastructural improvement, she said the UL hopes to complete wi-fi and internet access for all of its four campuses by the end of the year.
“This was already in the making, and we look forward to its realization. Our challenge continues to be lack of access to a fully-integrated network platform/system for enrollment, human resource, and financial management, which require a level of sustained finances that we do not presently have, but we are hopeful,” Dr. Weeks told the UL ALUMNI in the Americas.
“We have potential local and international partners to assist our College of Agriculture and Forestry to develop a poultry program with focal involvement of youths (using the 4H model), and women in communities that surround our Fendall and Sinje campuses. Also, in partnership with the University of Liberia Alumni Chorus (ULAC), we are currently working together to construct a Performing Arts Center,” she said.
“This project was initiated a little over a year ago. Additional medium-sized and big-ticket projects may require more time to raise funds, and will include putting in place a capital campaign,” Dr. Weeks concluded.