Vice Chancellor and Principal of USL Brigadier General Professor Foday Sahr delivering his welcome address

The Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone on Tuesday 9th October, 2018 inaugurated a new university court at the University House on Fourah Bay College campus. The programme was witnessed by government Ministers including the Chief Minister and other professional bodies across the country.
In his welcome address the Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone Brigadier General Professor Foday Sahr expressed his delight for the privilege and honour he had in hosting the Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, His Excellency the President Brigadier Retired Julius Maada Bio on the occasion of the inauguration of the new University Court, 2018. He described the University court as a new Court because the mandate of the previous Court ended in 2015 noting that the Universities Act – 2005 which provides the legal instrument for the management and administration of the university, mandates that the life of every court ends after every three years.

Professor Sahr pointed out that the university court is the highest administrative and decision- making body of the University and its composition include the Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor &Principal, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellors of the respective campuses, Senior academic and administrative staff, representatives of government ministries, representatives of other tertiary institutions and other staff associations and reputable bodies. The Vice Chancellor and principal said that the careful selection and formidable composition of the membership of the university Court demonstrates the confidence reposed in the Nominees. He said the task given to them is a huge responsibility which requires total commitment in ensuring that the current management tools within their mandate are not only upheld, but that management initiatives should be introduced for proper and better oversight.
Professor Sahr added that the inauguration of the new court came at a time when His Excellency is fulfilling his flagship programme and campaign promise which is free and quality education. As a university he said has a huge stake in fulfilling the promise, in the sense that, the university has the responsibility to providing the requisite and much needed personnel in the implementation of the free quality education of the government. The key players the vice Chancellor pointed out in ensuring quality education are trained in the university adding that he university also has the responsibility to ensure that programmes in which students are trained are henceforth tailored towards the specific needs of society.
Professor Sahr informed the gathering that he had developed a road map with specific bench marks to stir the University towards greater visibility and accountability. These include but not limited to the review of the curricula to meet the demands of the current problems of our society including the private sector; ensuring prudent fiscal management at all levels, expeditiously handle all disciplinary matters in respect of staff and students, curbing cultism in the University, review the processes of appointments and promotions for academic and administrative staff to ensure transparency, uphold the integrity of all examinations, and many more.
In his inaugural speech the Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone Brigadier (RTD)Julius Maada Bio said that the new court whose membership was drawn from various sectors of the country and from different disciplinary backgrounds is one that he believes has all what it takes to surmount the challenges confronting higher education in our country.
The Chancellor pointed out that the inauguration of the new court comes at a time when a new administration of the University of Sierra Leone under the leadership of the Ministry of technical and Higher Education leads the process of reclaiming its position among centres of excellence not only in Africa but in the world at large.
Chancellor Bio mentioned that the current Minister of Technical & Higher education had served the University in the capacity of Vice-Chancellor& Principal from 2005-2009 adding that his commitment and dedication was well placed to enable the university to achieve its goals. He said that he was convinced that the new court would work assiduously with the current University Administration to ensure that the goals and bench marks set by the University be achieved.

Left to Right Chancellor of USL President Julius Maada Bio, Centre Chief Minister Professor David Francis and Professor Aiah Gbakima Minister of Technical and Higher Education

He noted with concern that for a long time the educational system in the entire country from primary through secondary to tertiary level has suffered serious setbacks in terms of capacity and quality of its products. This he said was the reason why quality education became one of his flagship programmes during his campaign and upon assuming office as President of Sierra Leone.
He pointed out that he was aware that the country’s educational system was fraught with a lot of challenges and showed his governments determination to overcome these challenges with the help and good will of every Sierra Leonean.
The Chancellor of the University stated that apart from funding which his government is presently addressing, one challenge that has become a serious cause for concern for the University and the country is the unfortunate practice of cultism by students in our universities. Freedom of Association he said is a fundamental human right enshrined in our constitution which we all recognize at all times pointing out that when students, who are expected to demonstrate high ethical standards, hide behind the cloak of fraternities and sororities and engage in cruel and sometimes fatal practices against their colleagues as a rite of passage to membership of these so-called clubs, has becomes worrisome. The university should not become a sanctuary for cultism or secret societies; rather it is a place where minds are trained for the development of the nation. He added.
He mentioned the courage of the new administration’s avowed determination to curb cultism and other antisocial behavior in the university by taking necessary disciplinary measures.

Members of the new university court at their first sittings after inauguration

The Chancellor however urged the University to ensure that its programmes are geared towards addressing the specific needs of our society, with the goal of producing marketable graduates.
To achieve all of these, he said, the University needs a vibrant and formidable Court noting that the Court is the highest decision-making body as provided for in the Universities Act, 2005. It has the authority to formulate and introduce new policy guidelines to govern the operations of the University within the framework of the law.
The inauguration of the new university court was climaxed by the first university court sitting where members were nominated and elected into various sub committees for the proper implementation of their mandate.

Munda Rogers – PRO/USL