FENDALL, December 11, 2017: Liberia’s first Geophysicist/Geologist Hon. Cletus S. Wotorson, who is a founding member of the UL Geology faculty, has made an impassioned plea for graduates of the inaugural commencement of the recently established College of Engineering to set realistic goals to “gallop forward” in their future professional endeavors with the same resilience and persevering traits employed throughout their academic sojourn, declaring that “their future was now in their own hands.”
“I want to encourage you, to set goals for yourself,” he said. “I must emphasize to you, that your future is now in your hands; any investment you made, acquiring this distinctive knowledge will always pay you the best interest in life.”
Mr. Wotorson made the assertion when he addressed 122 graduates of the college at the 98th Commencement Convocation of the University of Liberia.
Recounting the history which led to the formation of the college, Mr. Wotorson said it all started somewhere in the 1970s, when few technocrats engaged former president William R. Tolbert, Jr., who he said was poised to establish a government of meritocracy undergirded by technocrats.
“Taking advantage of his dedication and commitment to unshackle the systemic fear of young Liberians and challenging the apparent insurmountable world of technology, these technocrats convinced and persuaded President Tolbert on the efficacy and expediency of anchoring a College Science and Engineering with the walls of the nation’s highest institution of learning, to blend with the trendiness of such practice worldwide,” said the retired technocrat and former senator to much acclaim from the audience.
He told the graduates and all in attendance that justice will not be done to history if he did not acknowledge “the sacrificial performance of the pioneering group that manned the foundation of the now fledging college,” referring to them as “Our Afro-Dobrins and Afro-Leversons of those days.”
He paid tribute to each of them by calling their names, saying, “Mr. Gabriel Johnson Tucker, B.Sc., Civil Engineer; Mr. William O. Jones, B.Sc., Electrical Engineer; Mr. S. Doedoe Weah Brownwell, B.Sc., Civil Engineer; Dr. Christopher Benedictus Gadegbeku, P.E., Civil Engineer; Mr. Dunstan McCauley, B.Sc., Electrical Engineer; Mr. Togba Nangana, B.Sc., M.Sc., MBA; Mr. Cletus Segbe Wotorson, B.Sc., M.A., Liberia’s first Geophysicist/Geologist; Dr. Thomas Boker, P.E., Structure Engineer and Liberia’s first Geotectonic Specialist; Mr. Sam Jackson, B.Sc., Civil Engineer; Mr. Joseph Sackor, B.Sc., M.Sc., Civil Engineer; Mr. Frances Cooper, Electrical Engineer, Dr. Eugene Shannon and Dr. Nathaniel Richardson, among others.”
He referred to them as the “young men” who, not only headed various departments in the college, but lectured pro bono in the college, adding, “Heads of the relevant public sector agencies ensured that salaries paid to our graduates were competitive to that of any trained foreign technocrat at any entry level, and initiated an internship program that guaranteed ‘hands on training.’”
Mr. Wotorson said it was regrettable that such incentives no longer exist for students and graduates of the college.
“Today there are many industrial companies in Liberia that should be made to accept our graduates at respectable entry level salaries for their internship,” he said. “This is all about the transfer of technology which we imbed in our concession agreements but often times fail to implement.”
In her remarks, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, President of the University of Liberia, stated that the commencement was historic because it was the first time the new college was graduating students.
“This is a historic day for the College of Engineering, because it’s the inaugural commencement ceremony for this college,” she said. “It’s also a historic day for the Dean of this College, because, as it is my first convocation as President of the University of Liberia, it is his inaugural commencement as Dean of the newly established College of Engineering.”
The UL President said that because Liberia is in the rebuilding stage, engineers were the critical drivers for this rebuilding process.
The Dean of the College Assistant Professor Augustus Moore lauded the efforts of the UL Administration towards ensuring that the inaugural commencement was successful, and paid tribute to his predecessors who, he said, made the commencement possible.
Dean Moore reminded the graduates, saying, “Few years ago, you entered the walls of the College of Engineering to reach this milestone. Throughout diligence and hard work, you arrived,” he said. “We are confident that the 30 of you from Civil Engineering, 17 from Electrical Engineering, 34 from Mining Engineering, and 41 from Geology, will be assets to the development of Liberia and beyond, by helping to provide the skills required to solve critical technical and natural resource challenges.”
Also speaking at the commencement was student Collins N. Vaye, who graduated with Magna Cum Laude as valedictorian of the class.
“I am reminiscing today, about some of the fondest memories that I have had and shared with over the five years with friends and experiences which helped me to defy the myths of the College of Engineering: ‘No one can graduate in five years,” he said. “Today, we are all graduating in five years.”