Last Speech Delivered By Prof. Ernest Aryeetey As The VC of Legon

by Israel Boafo Bansah

Below is the last speech delivered by Prof. Ernest Aryeetey as the Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana. The speech was delivered during this year’s graduation day of the University of Ghana Business school.

Professor Ernest Aryeetey’s July 2016 Congregation Address

It is my pleasant duty to warmly welcome you to today’s congregation ceremony. This is the first of two sets of graduating ceremonies for students who completed their studies in the 2015/2016 academic year. The second set of ceremonies will be held in November 2016. A total of four ceremonies will be held over two days to award degrees and diplomas to a total of 3,590 students graduating from our four Colleges. The graduating students are made up of 2,142 diplomates and undergraduates and 1,448 post graduates. The post graduates include 57 new PhDs, many of whom are staff of the University. I take this opportunity to congratulate students, faculty and other employees whose hard work and commitment have made this possible.

State of the University

Chairman of Council, as I leave office as Vice-Chancellor in about a week, I would like to use this occasion to give an overview of the state of University of Ghana over the period of my stewardship. It has been six years since my induction into office as Vice-Chancellor, and in my induction speech, I spelt out a vision of what I felt needed to be done to make University of Ghana a world-class university. Since then, I have worked with colleagues, students and stakeholders of this University in order to make this vision a reality. I appreciate the very significant contribution that the University Council has made in this endeavour, providing advice and taking difficult decisions. The support received from other members of University Management is most appreciated. The Business and Executive Committee and the Academic Board have been extremely helpful as sounding boards for many initiatives.
Chairman of Council, ladies and gentlemen, I will touch on the seven areas identified in my vision statement, steps taken in pursuit of the vision, what has been achieved and what remains to be achieved. The areas are:

  • Promoting Academic Excellence through Enhanced Teaching and Learning and Leadership Training
  • Promoting Academic Excellence through Significantly Expanded and Relevant Research and Extension
  • Overhaul of Governance Arrangements in Administration, Teaching, and Research
  • Better Management of University Assets and Facilities
  • Scale-up Efforts Towards Equal Opportunity in Gender Diversity
  • Enhanced Fund-Raising Activities at Unit and Central Administration Levels
  • Mainstream and Enforced Structures and Processes for Monitoring and Evaluation

PROMOTING ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE THROUGH ENHANCED TEACHING, LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP TRAINING

The University has pushed steadily towards significant improvements in teaching and learning, with a major concentration on quality assurance and the provision of new equipment. These efforts have been rewarded with significant improvement in the performance of students and faculty.

UG Rankings Improve Significantly

In the most recent Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings,
University of Ghana ranked 7th in Africa, making us the highest ranked university in the West African sub-region. The rankings take into consideration teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), industry income (knowledge transfer), and international outlook (staff, students and research).  It is important to observe that UG rankings have consistently improved across all the major ranking organizations, and I acknowledge the hard work of all who have contributed to our rise in the rankings.

Development of Guidelines for Promotion of Academic Senior Members

The Basic Laws of the University required the University Appointments Board to develop guidelines for the promotion of all categories of staff. In line with the requirement, Management appointed a Committee of Experts to propose appropriate guidelines for consideration by the University Appointments Board, Academic Board and University Council. Council has approved the implementation of the guidelines for promotion of academic senior members, and Management is putting in place measures to ensure the implementation of the guidelines.

New Structure of PhD Programmes

A new structure for PhD programmes in the university came into effect from the 2013/2014 academic year. The key additions to the programme are compulsory course work, a year of practical research training on a project, and a formal defence of research proposals. The idea is to give UG PhD programmes a clearer structure while making them internationally competitive. The number of PhD programmes has risen sharply and so has the number of PhD students.

Publication of Readers

As part of the efforts to enhance the quality of teaching at University of Ghana, and to aid accessibility to published historical material, management supported the development of “Readers” or collections of related essays on a discipline or sub-discipline. The exercise which was to mark University of Ghana’s 65th Anniversary, has so far resulted in 44 Readers being published, with another 12 in the pipeline. The project has been the most significant initiative at book publication in any African university so far. The books should provide very useful reading material for our students and other African students.

Procurement of Science Equipment

In 2011, Management developed a programme for the acquisition of modern equipment for the various units of the University undertaking scientific research. Under this programme, a GC Mass Spectrophotometer was acquired, and a nitrogen plant was installed at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research for the use of scientists in the University. XRD equipment was installed at the Departments of Physics and Chemistry, and NMR equipment installed at the Department of Chemistry. Additional equipment for general purpose use in the sciences was also procured. In 2015 a new programme for the acquisition of additional science equipment with a focus on Engineering and Health Sciences was initiated. The total outlay for the purchase of science equipment so far is $7.5 million.

Creation of New Units for Teaching and Research

Management believes in the need to use academic centres to pursue excellence for defined academic groups working on specialised relevant themes, sometimes in an interdisciplinary manner. To ensure that there is greater understanding of the roles of the different types of Centres envisaged in this drive, a Committee has been put together by the Business and Executive Committee to develop a policy document on the future functions and structure of Centres. While this is being done, five new Centres and an Institute have been created. These are:

  • Centre for Latin American Studies
  • Centre for European Studies
  • Centre for Ageing Studies
  • Centre for Urban Management Studies
  • Centre for Aging Studies
  • Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST)

ICT Based Distance Education Project (Chinese Phase 2 Project)

Ladies and Gentlemen, in April 2010, a contract was signed between University of Ghana and Unisplendour Software Company for the implementation of an ICT Based Distance Education Project. All the deliverables of the project have been completed and equipment and facilities acquired as part of the project are currently in use.
As part of the project, an Integrated Digital Mobile Learning Platform has been deployed for Distance Education students, providing a convenient and secure environment for learning and real-time interaction between faculty of the School of Continuing and Distance Education and their students. Further to this initiative, the Sakai eLearning Software for Collaboration and Learning has also been deployed on UG servers for module creation by faculty and staff. This is currently being used by faculty as a major tool for providing eLearning to students on the Distance Education programme.
Also under the project, Regional Learning Centers have been refurbished and fitted with computer laboratories, video conference rooms, and smart classrooms.  Additionally, under the project, machinery for a new printing press has been delivered for installation.

Improvements in ICT Infrastructure

A fiber network has been deployed on the main Legon Campus as well as the City and Korle-bu campuses, to extend internet connectivity to academic buildings and student residential halls. A major Wi-Fi deployment has been completed on the main campus so that faculty and staff to give access to network resources anywhere on campus.
The Livestock and Poultry Research Centre (LIPREC) in Nungua,  Soil and Irrigation Research Centre (SIREC) in Kpong, and  the Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Centre (FOHCREC) in Kade, have all been connected by fiber to the main campus.
Other work done in the field of ICT infrastructure includes:
 

  • An upgrade of University of Ghana Data Centre and the deployment of a Private Cloud Infrastructure with data storage of 120Terrabytes and 240 MW standby power from two generators
  • The increase of bandwidth from 2 STMs (300Megs) to 5 STMs (750Mbps)
  • The establishment of a secondary Disaster Recovery (DR) Data Centre with backup storage of 120Terrabytes and a capability for real time data replication between primary and backup data centres.
  • The deployment of a foundation infrastructure for a High Performance Computing Cluster to provide the needed computer resources to support research simulations and processing of complex algorithms.

A Computerized Integrated Hospital Information System was implemented on the back of a revamped, robust network infrastructure. Also, we have begun the move towards the use of tablets for Board and Committee business, to reduce the University’s paper consumption and improve its carbon footprints credentials. Discussions are underway with a service provider to reach agreement for special discount pricing to support University-wide rollout of the initiative.

PROMOTING ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE THROUGH SIGNIFICANTLY EXPANDED AND RELEVANT RESEARCH AND EXTENSION

Ladies and gentlemen, the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID) was established in 2010 to promote and manage research in the University and also help raise the profile of research, as part of the effort to transform UG into a world-class research-led institution. In 2011, the first substantive Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Development was appointed to help in re-shaping and enhancing the research profile of the University.
Since the establishment of ORID, remarkable gains have been made in terms of research at the University, key among them being the enhancement of the UG Grants portfolio, which is funded entirely from Internally Generated Funds (IGF);  policies that govern the conduct of research have been developed and approved; the establishment of a technology transfer office which is shaping the manner in which the University engages with industry, capacity building initiatives for faculty, staff and students, research uptake and dissemination of research to make research by UG faculty more visible to the public. Also, with the appointment of Research Development Officers, ORID is now able to capture more data on proposals being submitted from the various units of the University as well as provide grants management services to faculty members.
In making a case for transforming Legon into a Research University, the University has developed four centres of excellence with a focus on four distinct thematic areas:

  • Malaria Research
  • Enhancing Food Production and Food Processing
  • Trans-Disciplinary Research into Climate Change Adaptation
  • Development Policy and Poverty Monitoring and Evaluation

Working Groups for research in the four thematic areas have been set up and provide a multidisciplinary research platform to foster collaboration among researchers from various Colleges, Schools and Institutes of the University, as well as other institutions, so as to move forward the growth and development agenda of Ghana and the wider world.  In the 2014/2015 academic year, each of the four Centres of Excellence was given one million Ghana cedis as seed money for its research/operations. Since then, a number of them have been able to mobilize additional funding for research work.
Other structures and policies put in place to enhance research include:

  1. Incentives for productive staff including paid visits to established research centres in the developed world, travel and accommodation funds to attend conferences and present papers etc.
  2. Continuous capacity enhancement and mentoring programmes
  • Research environment and infrastructural enhancement
  1. Creation of congenial environment for intellectual freedom
  2. Monitoring and evaluation of research practice
  3. Work experience, community service and industrial involvement
  • Increase in proportion of graduate students

Applications for support for faculty research from internally generated funds are accepted in 3 grant categories with ceilings of GH¢7500 for seed grants, GH¢40,000 for Investigator-led grants, and GH¢120,000 for Large Multi-disciplinary grants.
From 2008 to date, a total of 182 grants have been awarded from Internally Generated Funds, with a total amount of GHS 5,098,254.00 all. Out of this number, 95 have been successfully completed.
External Research funding in the University in the 2014/2015 academic year came up to a total of GH¢52,524,883.11, and in the 2015/2016 academic year, we have so far recorded research funding of GH¢11,062,698.30.
ORID is involved in the administration of various capacity building initiatives, such as the Intra-ACP projects, TDR International Postgraduate Training Scheme (2015 – 2019), Cambridge-Africa Partnership for Research Excellence (CAPREx) and,  Building Stronger Universities in Developing Countries (BSU) Initiative (Phase 1 & 2).
University of Ghana was selected by the World Bank to receive a total of USD 16 million to enable it to establish the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) and also to Develop the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) into an African Centre of Excellence for training plant breeders, seed scientists and seed technologists. WACCBIP will provide Masters, PhD and Post-doctoral level training, and conduct research focused on cell and molecular biology of common diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis while WACCI is to be developed as a sustainable Centre of Excellence to train more plant breeders who will develop superior climate-smart and resilient varieties of staple crops of the West African sub-region as a means of increasing productivity. The two projects are expected to be implemented over a three year period.

OVERHAUL OF GOVERNANCE ARRANGEMENTS

A significant recommendation of the Visitation Panel which reviewed the work of the University in 2006 and 2007 was for the university to reconsider its governance arrangements with a view to enhancing effectiveness and efficiency. Taking a cue from this, a number of initiatives have been undertaken.

The Collegiate System

Following the acceptance of the report of the Governance Review Committee, which suggested that University of Ghana should take a definite decision on whether to adopt the collegiate system, the Executive Committee in April 2011 appointed consultants to study in detail the collegiate system and other systems of university governance and advise on the model best suited to the needs of University of Ghana. After extensive consultations, the University Council approved the adoption of a decentralized system of administration under four colleges, Health Sciences; Humanities, Education and Basic and Applied Sciences; starting from the 2014/2015 academic year. The Colleges are each headed by a Provost, with Departments grouped into Schools, each headed by a Dean.
The collegiate system is intended to decentralize the academic and management functions of the university, and to make the process of decision making shorter and more structured. The leadership of the various colleges have been given adequate leeway to facilitate decision making at the college-level, and to boost financial autonomy. In terms of administrative structures, many of the functions previously carried out at the centre are now being done at the College or School level. All of these are with the aim of ensuring less complexity in decision-making processes, and providing prompt and efficient service to all our stakeholders.
The four Colleges are each doing very well, and a thorough review of the system will be conducted at the end of three years.
HR Policies and Procedures Manual
The Business and Executive Committee held a retreat at Akosombo from May 21 to 24, 2015 to discuss a draft HR Policies and Procedures Manual.  The draft document is a combination of existing and proposed policies, regulations and procedures. In all, about 60 BEC members attended the meeting. A finalized version has recently been approved by Council.
International Travel Policy for the University
An International Travel Policy for the University has been approved.  The policy is intended to clarify the procedures for obtaining authorization to travel, define roles and responsibilities regarding staff travel, and to set out the types of expenses that may be reimbursed, and rates and sources of funding for various categories of travel.

New Financial Regulations

To achieve the objective of efficiency rooted in transparency, the University’s Finance and Stores regulations were revised to serve as a guide to unit heads and other offices. Management engaged the services of a consultant to prepare draft new regulations to guide the financial management of the University, taking into account international best practices in financial management and corporate governance. The regulations also reflect changes in relevant national laws on the management of public finances.

BETTER MANAGEMENT OF UNIVERSITY ASSETS AND FACILITIES

Ladies and gentlemen, the approach to enhancing the management of the University’s assets and facilities has involved the reorganization of the Physical Development and Municipal Services Directorate to provide for additional qualified professionals to take responsibility for the management of the University’s assets and facilities. This has seen significant improvement in their management, with more timely interventions in the maintenance of facilities. The re-organisation of PDMSD is still on-going.

Rehabilitation and Decongestion of Halls of Residence

The process of decongesting halls of residence started in the 2011/2012 academic year, with major rehabilitation work done in the halls of residence. This included the refurbishment of Dining Halls and the acquisition of generators for halls of residence. Additionally, security in the halls of residence was stepped up, and students were issued with new ID Cards with security features to reduce the number of unauthorized persons entering student facilities for unlawful purposes.
Students testify that they are now more comfortable and feel more secure, and that their rooms and the halls of residence in general are now more conducive and enable them to enjoy the right frame of mind for academic work.

Master Plan, Africa Integras and Legon City Project

Major initiatives undertaken in the last 6 years include the development of a master plan for the University, and the commencement of the Africa Integras and Legon City projects. University of Ghana has struggled to hold on to lands that have been assigned to it for present and future use. The University’s assets are threatened by rapid urbanization and the related rapidly growing demand for land in Accra.  In the effort to ensure that the University derives as much benefit as possible from the land available to it, both for current and future purposes, the University is updating its master plan. This is intended to guide land use with a view to enhancing efficiency in the use of University of Ghana lands.
The Africa Integras project involves the construction of buildings for each of the 4 colleges, the Institute of Applied Science and Technology and residential facilities for students. When completed, the Africa Integras project would increase available floor space for academic work by 60% and effectively satisfy the University’s space requirements for the next twenty years.
As part of the plans for Legon’s future development, it is proposed to develop a modern mixed-use development on 100 acres of University land at the Okponglo-Bawaleshie-Trinity Theological Seminary enclave to be known as “Legon City”.
Major Physical/Infrastructure Developments
A number of major physical development projects were either initiated or restarted during my tenure and are in different stages of completion. These include:

  • Redesign and naming of major intersections
  • Completion of Crèche
  • Construction of Small Animal Teaching Hospital
  • Asphaltic overlay of selected roads and construction of pedestrian walkways
  • Construction of offices and laboratories for School of Pharmacy
  • Extension to Department of Earth Science
  • Refurbishment of Cafeteria at the Korle- Bu campus
  • Renovation of Staff Bungalows
  • Construction of Ph.D Building
  • Construction of Climate Change and Sustainable Development Building
  • Construction of Graduate Block for Business School
  • Construction of Banking Square
  • Construction of major entrance gates with access control
  • Extension to Nutrition and Food Science Department
  • Restoration of University’s main entrance
  • Construction of Staff Canteen at Registry
  • Renovation of Students’ Hostels at Korle Bu campus
  • Construction of Office Extension to PDMSD
  • Construction of New Comfort Zone
  • Construction of 8 New Units for Staff Village
  • Extensions to UG Hospital
  • Construction of new Auditorium for Economics Department by Bank of Ghana
  • Completion of GCB Complex
  • Completion of ISSER Conference Centre

University of Ghana Medical Centre
In June 2011, Cabinet gave approval for a loan facility from Israel for the design, construction, and installation of medical equipment for a 617-bed Teaching Hospital facility for the University of Ghana, at a total cost of USD217,000,000. Construction commenced in April 2013 and is expected to reach practical completion by the end of July 2016.  As a turnkey project, the contractor is required to hand over a state-of-the-art hospital equipped for training of health professionals, research and service delivery at a quaternary level.
The project is being undertaken in 3 phases.  In Phase 1, facilities for Surgery, Radiology, Internal Medicine, Pharmacy, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Anaesthesia, Medical Education, Accidents and Emergency Services, Laboratory Services, Mortuary, and Pain Management have been provided.
The University Council recently approved the appointment of a Board and its compostion.
ENHANCE FUND-RAISING ACTIVITIES AT UNIT AND CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION LEVELS
University Management worked closely with the Alumni Council to organize fund-raising events for projects initiated by the Council. Management also worked closely with the Students Financial Aid Office to raise funds for providing assistance to needy but brilliant students. The fund has grown steadily over the years, as has the number of individuals and corporate bodies contributing to the Academic Prizes Fund.
Also, the University Council has approved the creation of an Office for Institutional Advancement for the University, and efforts have started for the recruitment of a Director and other staff for the unit.
MAINSTREAM AND ENFORCE STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES FOR MONITORING AND EVALUATION
A major area that management has focused on in the last six years has been the development of appropriate programmes and policies to guide the administration of the University. This is to ensure uniformity in the management of the institution at different levels and at different places. These are indicated below.
University of Ghana Strategic Plan
University of Ghana has launched a new strategic plan.  The new plan is expected to provide strategic direction to the University for the next decade, 2014 to 2024. With the new plan comes a vision, a new mission, nine strategic priorities and four core values.
Institutional Research and Planning Office
A new Director has been appointed for the IRPO to help manage/develop work in the Unit.
Internal Audit Directorate
An Acting Director has been appointed for the Internal Audit Directorate.
Ladies and gentlemen, I must say that I have had a very fulfilling tenure as Vice-Chancellor, and I leave it to you and posterity to measure and assess my performance.
To the Chancellor, the Chairman and members of the University Council, management, officers of the University, staff, successive student leaders and other stakeholders of this University, I owe a debt of gratitude to you for your support and commitment. As a University, we would not have been able to make the strides we have over the past six years without your commitment and support.
As Professor Ebenezer Oduro-Owusu takes office as Vice-Chancellor in a few days, I expect that you will all rally round him and offer the needed support to take University of Ghana to the next level. Professor Oduro-Owusu, I wish you well as you take up the mantle.
Well Wishes to Graduands
Now to our graduating students:
This is really your day, because you have worked hard, and you deserve every bit of the honour on this occasion. You are at the threshold of the next phase of your lives, which presents so many opportunities, yet so many challenges. Today’s world offers young graduates so many potential positive outcomes, it also presents many pitfalls along the way. I urge you to take every situation as a learning opportunity; and exercise temperance in all your endeavours. Work hard, dream big, plan ahead and be ethical and honest in all your dealings, and you will be well on the way towards success. The future may not be given, but there are limitless opportunities out there.  Go out, be innovative, and conquer the world.
I wish you all the very best.
Thank you all and God bless you.
Professor Ernest Aryeetey
July, 2016

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