By James Igiri
Dean, School of Post Graduate Studies (SPGS), University of Lagos Professor Solomon Akinboye has shed more light on the on-going effort by the university management to further solidify the university’s position as a top-notch citadel of learning in Nigeria and the world at large.
He stated this during an interview in his office on Tuesday as part of activities mapped out in preparation for the 2016/17 Unilag convocation ceremonies. Speaking exclusively to reporters from Unilag TV/Radio, the Dean espoused the virtues of excellence which the university was built on by paying tributes to his predecessors- including Professors Babajide Alo; Toye Ogundipe; and L.O Chukwu amongst others.
“The School of Post Graduate Studies has been built on what I call a solid rock; and that rock for me is a rich tradition of excellence.” He said.
To further expound on his explanation, the renowned Professor of political science recounted some of the experiences he had had- first as an administrator, and then as board member of various committees at the Post Graduate school- while also highlighting some of the specific events that had shaped his career
“My story is a long one, but i would emphasise on the unique aspect of it. I started out as an Administrative Officer (one), at the College of Medicine and later rose to the rank of Senior Assistant Secretary, which is equivalent to that of Senior Assistant Registrar here at the main campus. I can therefore say without equivocation that I am a professional administrator unlike most of my colleagues who have had to learn on the job.”
Professor Akinboye revealed that until his election as the Dean of Post Graduate Studies in 2015, he had served – for about fifteen years- at the PG school in various capacities including a membership on the Academic Programmes Committee (APC), and as Chairman of SPGS Lagoon Review- a magazine/ newsletter run by the PG school to cover its activities- amongst others.
Since assuming office, the Dean of all Deans- as he is fondly called- has made effort to further consolidate on the achievements of his predecessors by implementing innovative ideas aimed at addressing some of the challenges which he had noticed during his years as a member of the board.
“By the grace of God, we have recorded some monumental achievements and I will highlight a few of them. First, as a member of the APC, I had observed a trend- albeit small- in the number of negative reports on the theses of our doctoral students. On assumption of office, we tried to stem the tide by setting up an internal Quality Control Committee (QCC) made up entirely of APC members- drawn from the humanities and the pure sciences- to vet those theses before they are sent out to external examiners for their appraisal and report. Today, I am happy to say that at the last senate meeting, none of the 95 doctoral candidates submitted for graduation had a negative report from any external assessor; and that for me is a significant achievement.
” More so, the School of Post Graduate Studies under my watch-and of course with the approval University Management and SPGS Board- has been able to establish a Post Graduate Trust Fund.
“Because we are aware of some challenges faced by students in pursuit of their academic programmes, I felt that there was a need to empower our doctoral students financially. Hence, we decided to launch a Post Graduate Trust Fund. Incidentally, this happened on a day the Post Graduate School held its annual lecture. A target of 9 million Naira was Announced with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, gracing the Occasion. Now, I am happy to announce that we have about 12.1 million Naira in the Trust fund account; and a committee of Finance Facilities and Endorsement has been constituted to work on disbursement of funds to deserving students.”
On the issue of positioning the institution as a school of international repute, Professor Akinboye hinted that the university is making a conscious effort towards embracing globalisation.
“We are internationalising the School of Post Graduate Studies in ways that had never been done. Just last year alone, a total of thirty three international students drawn from different countries in West Africa enrolled here in different programmes under the ECOWAS/AU scholarship programme. The number is phenomenal as the university had never had that many in terms of international enrolment. Leveraging on the gains the year before, we have admitted eleven independent candidates for the 2016/17 academic programmes and this is an achievement in all respects.”
To bolster, and sustain the effort towards internationalisation, Prof. Akinboye revealed that the Vice- Chancellor had made efforts to reach an arrangement with other international universities in Canada and the United States in order to create an atmosphere for foreign exchange programmes between PG students of the University of Lagos and their counterparts in the other schools.
“It is my belief that once this has been finalised, our students can now travel abroad to get more practical experience in their chosen field. They may be required to spend a semester away from home in order to utilise the more sophisticated laboratories and resources that abound in the foreign institutions. That way, the quality of our graduates will be heightened, and they, can now compete more favourably with their peers from around the world.
“To further internationalise the institution, the School of Post Graduate studies, last year, hosted the first inter-university conference for doctoral students, with students from participating countries drawn from 5 West African countries including Togo; Rep. of Benin; Ghana; Cote de voire and Nigeria (the host nation).”
In addressing the question on the future of the institution, the Dean painted a lofty picture of an ideal institution whose virtue of academic and professional excellence would be further ingrained to a more enviable height.
“My dream for the University of Lagos is to see it evolve and transit from a tradition of excellence to that of distinction.”
Finally, the astute administrator rained encomiums on the university as a place very quintessential and exemplary of an institution where one can be whatever he wants to be without any inhibition.