UL Begins 99th Commencement, Liberia College Graduates Urge to “Stand Up for the Truth”

The University of Liberia has commenced its 99th Commencement Convocation exercises, with Liberia College graduating 611 students earning degrees in various disciplines of the social sciences and humanities.

 Opening the occasion, the Dean of Liberia College Associate Professor Sekou W. Konneh praised the graduates for their achievements and urged them to acknowledge those who supported them throughout their academic sojourn. “You have fulfilled your historic mission. Today you are fulfilling the historic mission that Mr. James Evans started one-and-a-half century ago when he became the first graduate of Liberia College. You have kept the torch that lights the darkness, the Lux in Tenebris. Well done!” said Dean Konneh, who presided over his first commencement as dean. In her opening remarks, the President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, thanked the 99th Convocation Committee for the build-up that led to the successful hosting of the auspicious occasion as well as everyone who joined the University in celebration.

“Liberia College was founded in 1862 to provide leaders of a new Republic and a developing Republic, and today, it’s a milestone to put out 611 graduates, “Dr. Weeks said. “ In 1866, it was just one graduate, James Evans.”

Dr. Weeks admonished the graduates to come back to the University to support it as it grows in the future, reminding them of the uniqueness of their college as the oldest in the country and the prestige that goes with coming out of the nation’s premier university.

The UL President then used the occasion to disclose plans to add an Institute of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Culture to the University of Liberia, saying that efforts to award degrees in Philosophy and Religious Studies are nearing completion. Dr. Weeks stated that a proposal for the establishment of the institute would be sent to other units, including the UL Board of Trustees, for consideration.

Additionally, the UL President, who is presiding over her second commencement, said she is reviewing a proposal presented to her by religious leaders of Liberia to establish a graduate program in honor of the late Bishop Michael K. Francis, adding that upon the completion of the review, the proposal would be sent to the UL Board of Trustees for consideration.

Dr. Weeks than concluded her remarks by encouraging the graduates to be “honest in all they do as they join the larger society.”

At the same, the Liberia College commencement guest speaker, Mrs. Lucia M. Yallah, an Archivist at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, challenged graduates of Liberia College to be critical thinkers and develop a sense of honesty for the good of Liberia.

She said this can be done when they shun corruption and divisiveness, which, according to her, impede the development of the country.

“Brighten your light on corruption, mismanagement of public assets, the spirit of division and acts against women,” she emphasized. “Brighten your light on the Legislature, the Judiciary so that they will see the truth and make good decisions.”

Mrs. Yallah, a 1981 graduate of the University of Liberia from the College of Agriculture & Forestry, reminded the graduates that the University of Liberia was established on the basis of developing minds that will hold to the doctrine of honesty and the principles of being bold and standing for the truth.

Lucia Massalee Yallah

“The University of Liberia was established to teach honesty, critical thinking, and love for humanity and others,” she implored, urging the graduates to find their voices and put their words into action to inspire positive changes in Liberia.

The guest speaker said all female graduates should not limit themselves to whatever roles society will assign them, but that they should keep in mind the responsibility to develop Liberia.

“Every Liberian has a collective responsibility to ensure the country is on the right path, and graduates of universities are no exception,” she said. Also speaking at the graduation was student Iris Kou Marto, the valedictorian of Liberia College. Ms. Marto urged her peers to “practically apply the knowledge they acquired from the university over the years wisely to help in the development of Liberia.”

Student Marto said she recognized that knowledge without application is meaningless, telling her colleagues that their biggest fulfillment in life will remain in tin air if they fail to apply their education wisely.

“The aptitude and capability to perform in whatever sector you join depends on the education you gained and how knowledge is applied,” she said. “Knowledge is a prerequisite for success but without the application of knowledge, success is impossible.”

Three professors of Liberia College were awarded certificates for dedicated services to the University of Liberia. They are Professors Geetor S. Saydee, Thomas Collins and J. Wil Mannie.

Liberia College commencement marks beginning of a two-week long college-based commencement exercises at which time more than 3,300 students are expected to graduate from the University of Liberia.

By: George Y. Sharpe

President, Mass Communication Students Association UL