UL president Dr. Emmet A. Dennis has disclosed plans of a new strategy to ensure that graduation ceremonies of the state-run university reflect equal treatment for all graduates.
Making remarks at the first-ever lecture series in honor of the late Prof. Victor E. Ward, Dr. Dennis acknowledged that inequality exists during graduations, given that those acquiring graduate degrees are preferentially treated with congratulatory gestures characterized by handshakes and the individual conferring of degrees, while undergraduate degree earners are left in the stands, their degrees conferred upon them via announcement.
According to the President Dennis, graduate degree earners march to the stage one at the time, and invited dignitaries shake hands with them and even take souvenir photos, unlike undergraduate degree earners whose portion is announcement without much gratified treatment.
To bridge this gap of inequality, Dr. Dennis said he is contemplating a series of ceremonies to the effect that each college will have a graduation day so that undergraduates appreciate equally personalized congratulatory gestures from the administration, faculty, invited guests and other well-wishers.
This, according to Dr. Dennis, will be set up in a particular month such as December, as it has always been, and times will be allotted each college for a ceremony. He said in so doing, the administration and other stakeholders will have the opportunity to congratulate the graduates by commending and conferring degrees upon each one on stage, as is the case with graduate degree earners.
Aware that some may receive the idea with skepticism as to whether such a system was feasible, the UL president said this works in developed countries and renowned universities, and he believes when it is introduced, it would also work here.
“Our undergraduate degree earners equally need better treatment as [is] the case with graduate degree [earners], and there is a need to consider giving them the kind of better treatment they deserve. We are therefore thinking about organizing the graduation program in such a way that [each] college will have a day of graduation to allow each individual to walk on stage for his/her degree instead of [making a group] announcement that they have degree,” Dr. Dennis said.
In line with this development, Dr. Dennis has begun seeking suggestions from students and all stakeholders of the University of Liberia about where the expected December graduations will be held.
He noted that in December this year, the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex where graduation ceremonies are regularly held will be under renovation, which will require a change of venue for the university’s graduation.
Dennis said althogh the Fendell campus is so far the only other option, a point of concern is over the many graduates and their loved ones and invited guests causing a highway traffic jam, inconveniencing other commuters plying the highway.
The road is a leading route to various parts of the Liberian interior, where locally produced commodities are expected every time to reach people of Monrovia. It also passes through the ever busy commercial district of Red Light, which is flooded daily with vendors, customers, taxis and pehn-pehn (motorcycle) drivers. This market intersection alone is expected to bring traffic to a standstill for hours should a graduation ceremony be scheduled in Fendell.
The Ward lecture series was organized by the Chemistry Department of the University of Liberia. The late professor dedicated 35 years of life to the University and the Department.