UI at 70: SUSTAINING THE LEGACY, RAISING THE BAR
Ten years ago, when the University of Ibadan turned 60, the anniversary tagline was “UI:…still towering highest”. The tagline was an eloquent statement of the university’s position amongst other universities in Nigeria and, perhaps, in the sub-region. We had the bragging rights as the First and the Best and the flagship of tertiary education in the country. This was not a status conferred by mere accident of birth but by an antecedent of excellence in teaching, research and community engagements. It was also a status conferred on the university by the eminence of its people – students, faculty, the alumni community and friends (corporate and individuals) – all of whom have contributed immensely to the greatness of the university over the years.
By the tagline “…still towering highest”, the university had a resolve, as aptly captures in its mission statement:
To be world-class institution for academic excellence geared towards meeting societal needs”.
It was a passion not to rest on our oars with an aspiration to be locally relevant and globally competitive. Looking back ten years after, there is no doubt that the university’s aspiration is being fulfilled gradually. The home front is no longer the focus but global knowledge economy, and the 70th anniversary tagline aptly expresses this new resolve and commitment: Sustaining the Legacy; Raising the Bar.
In ten years, the university has had three Vice-Chancellors – Professor Olufemi Adebisi Bamiro, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole and the incumbent, Professor Abel Idown Olayinka. Professors Bamiro and Adewole gave their best in projecting the university as truly the First and the Best through their innovative and transformational programmes, the result being to raise the benchmark for the incumbent. Evidently, Professor Olayinka did not shy away from taking up the gauntlet as the last three years of his administration has seen the university’s great renown transcending the national boundary.
In 2016, the University of Ibadan was, for the first time, ranked among the first 1000 leading global higher institutions. Ever since then, the university’s reputation has continued to soar. In the latest (2019) Time Higher Education Emerging Economies University Ranking, the University of Ibadan was clearly ahead of other universities in Nigeria, with Covenant University and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, coming a distant second and third respectively.
The report of World University Ranking (2019) also shows that the leadership position of the University of Ibadan remains unchallenged in Nigeria, only coming behind two other universities in Africa. In the report, the university remains the institution of first choice for university admission seekers in the field of Medicine and Surgery the same way the University of Ibadan was returned as the number one in Medicine and Dentistry in Nigeria and West Africa by the Times Higher Education ranking.
Let me also recall here that the Nigerian Council of Legal Education only recently commended the University of Ibadan for the outstanding performance of its students at the 2018 Final Bar Examination. Of the 124 students presented for the Examination, 48 passed in the Second-Class Upper Division, 35 had Second-Class Lower Division. Thirty-eight came out with Pass while only two had conditional pass. Only one of the students failed the examination.
In the area honours and distinctions, it is worthy of note to state that the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnership (RISP), Professor Olanike Adeyemo was recently elected a fellow of the World Academy of Science for the Advancement of Science in developing countries. She had earlier been elected Fellow of Academic of Science in Nigeria.
Also, Professor Isaac Olawale Albert made the list of West Africa Peace Building Fellows. The Body of Fellows is made up of 20 West Africans who have distinguished themselves in Peace Practice and whose work transcends their immediate countries to at least five West African states with a requirement of 20 years’ experience. Professor Albert is of the University’s Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies.
Earlier in the year, four eminent Professors of the University of Ibadan were among the ten Professors from Nigeria elected as fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Science and would henceforth use the acronym FAS after their names. They are Professor Adesola Ogunniyi, former Director of the Institute of Advance Medical Research and Training (IAMRAT) and former Head, Department of Medicine, Professor (Mrs) Olayinka Onigbodun , Head of Psychiatry and Director, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Programme and first female professor of Psychiatry in Nigeria, Professor (Mrs.) Oluwatoyin Odeku, a Professor of Pharmaceutics, Dean of the Faculty of Phamacy and former Director, Office of International Programmes, and Professor Gabriel Kolawole, formerly of the Department of Chemistry.
Our students and graduates have also been doing us proud. Cynthia Aghunotse Onifade (MA, University of Ibadan), received an award for the best African thesis. She received the award at the Leiden Annual Meeting last December. She wrote on Oath Taking and the Transnationalism of Silence among Edo Female Sex Workers in Italy. Cynthia Olufade completed an MA in African Studies (Diaspora and Transnational Studies) at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.
Mr. Mayowa Tijani of The Cables also bags distinction from Sussex University with his Master of Arts in Media Practice for Development and Social Change. A graduate of Food Technology from the University of Ibadan, Mayowa had in 2017 won the Chevening Scholarship to undertake a year-long master’s programme in the UK and in 2018, he was selected one of 50 young leaders and only African journalist from over 144 countries around the world to discuss and proffer solutions to sundry education and human rights issues at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, Great Park, UK.
On the part of the university management, facilities are being upgraded to make the learning environment more conclusive. Halls of residence and classrooms are being renovated while irregular supply of electricity and water are becoming a thing of the past. Only recently, a Chat-Room that could accommodate 38 readers was opened at the Kenneth Dike Library to complement the 24-hour service of the Library. It is a room for relaxation aimed at promoting reading culture among student.
In the last ten years, research has also been given a pride of place especially with the establishment of the University of Ibadan Research Foundation and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnership.
The University of Ibadan Research Foundation was, essentially, created to strengthen the leadership roles of the university in research and innovations for social and economic development in Nigeria. The Foundation focuses on Agriculture, Energy, Health, Infrastructures, Humanities and Artificial Intelligence. Over a hundred million naira in Career Development Grant Award has been disbursed to more than 25 research leaders to support a three-year mentorship and annual sojourn at international institutions with opportunities to acquire new skills, competencies, expertise and access to facilities and equipment that may not be available in Nigeria. One of the recipients of the grant is Dr. Mabel Omolara Akinyemi who in 2014 won the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) fellowship. The UIRF Career Development Grant Awards is supporting her to pursue studies on Identification of Genes Responsible for the Tolerance in Tropical and Temperate Cattle Breeds with international mentorship from the Cornell University, New York, USA.
Also, a Think Tank for translating research results to evidence for policies in partnerships to make the University of Ibadan the research hub for states and Federal Government.
To give vent to this new initiative and give the Foundation some measure of autonomy, a Board has been inaugurated for the Foundation and has been incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission. The Board, led by a distinguished alumnus, Sir(Dr) U.J. Itsueli, has many other eminent Nigerians, all of them with distinguished careers in their chosen fields. The first phase, the Administrative Block of the UIRF Research Centre, has been completed through the contribution of Sir Itsueli and other members of the Board, at a cost of about two hundred million naira. The Centre will also have a Research and Science Park to promote partnership between industry, private sector, government and academic necessary to facilitate seamless transition for translating promoting research results to innovators and commercialisation.
The newly established office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Strategic partnership, RISP, is headed by a well-focused, forward looking scholar with international acclaim, Professor Olanike Adeyemi, a Fellow of the Academy of Science who was earlier in the year elected as a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in development countries. She has since her appointment hit the ground running. The Annual Research Fair she birthed has been a tremendous success and is only in its second edition. Her office has also started an annual Job Fair in partnership with a leading Nigerian Bank, First Bank Nigeria Plc.
With the quantum leap the University has recorded of late, there is every reason to believe that it is reaching for new heights and it is only a matter of time before it conquers the world. The 70th anniversary slogan “Sustaining the Legacy, Raising the Bar” is therefore a clarion call for all stakeholders to lend a hand in the new push for global relevance.
Submitted by University of Ibadan liaison Mr. Adebowale Abel Adeosun