UL Chemistry Dept. Honors Nation’s ‘First Chemist’

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The Chemistry Department of the Thomas J.R. Faulkner College of Science and Technology of the University of Liberia has organized a lecture series program in honor of Liberia’s “first Chemist,” the late Professor Victor Emmanuel Ward, who served the University for about 30 years prior to the Liberian civil war.

Professor Ward was murdered at his Fendell office by a fighter, who reportedly failed to pass in Chemistry but blamed the late professor for not giving him a passing grade.

The lecture series, according to Mr. James McClain, the Chemistry Department Chairman, is meant to spread teaching and learning of Chemistry throughout the length and breadth of Liberia in order to expose the discipline in a manner that fosters self confidence in the discipline.

Mr. McClain in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer following the program on June 15 said this will help drive away fear in Liberian students about Chemistry, and will be acquainted with the subject before entering the University of Liberia or any higher institution of learning in the country.

“It is our hope and aspiration that our objective of spreading the teaching of Chemistry will be achieved and Liberians wishing to enroll at the University of Liberia will be exposed to the subject before entering,” Mr. McClain noted.

According to him, they see the application of the Sciences as one means of helping to address societal needs.

He noted that while the Chemistry Department is faced with many challenges, including the lack of adequate and important laboratory equipment, they are confident that lessons taught in the area are in line with the curriculum and activities needed to be covered for undergraduate.

Also a statement outlining similar views of the students, notes that they (students) see and inhale the stock pile of garbage at the Red-Light Market which they think could be used to produce energy or prepared as compost to facilitate Agriculture.

For his part, the keynote speaker at the organized lecture series, Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC) Managing Director, Charles Allen, Jr. expressed with deep concern that in spite of the teaching of Science and Technology in Liberia, finished products from existing resources undergoing technical process have remained insufficient.

LWSC Managing Director Allen observed that the continuing constraints faced by institutions responsible for scientific knowledge in Liberia, whether the Liberia Institute for Biomedical Research, the Central Agricultural Research Institute or the TJR Faulkner Science College of the University of Liberia, all testify that the finished products and human resource produced are still low in Liberia’s hierarchy of needs.

He contended that all advance economies today have engendered significant research and development regimes to ensure their continued advancement, questioning, “Do we place our scientists on an honored listing and count them among the nomenclatural?”

He said Liberia has the resources including rubber and mineral, but wondered when will these raw materials be turned into finished goods to help Liberia be on par with other developed develop nations using Science & Technology.

Mr. Allen then noted with emphasis that for Science & Technology to work in Liberia, those having the mandate to prepare the outputs need firstly to determine requirements needed to improve science and technology education.

He also acknowledged that to achieve middle income status and escape the poverty trap requires a quantum of engineers and technicians of various categories within the next decade.

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