A Tribute to Professor Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, Sr., 13th President of the University of Liberia By Al-Hassan Conteh, Ph.D (12th UL President) (Presented on the Occasion of the Vigil Service, UL Main Campus, April 26, 2022)

A Tribute to Professor Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, Sr., 13th President of the University of Liberia By Al-Hassan Conteh, Ph.D (12th UL President) (Presented on the Occasion of the Vigil Service, UL Main Campus, April 26, 2022)

Although I was keenly aware of Dr. Dennis’ illness from cancer, the news of his passing came as a profound shock to me. I was hoping and praying for his quick recovery. That one of the world’s best minds, and abiding Liberian patriot, scientist, colleague, and friend would leave us at this crucial stage in our national history is a monumental loss indeed. May God Almighty grant his devoted and loving wife, Yede, their children, and the rest of the Dennis family the strength and fortitude to bear his loss, not only to their family, but to the Liberian academy of science, and our beloved nation-state, Liberia.  

Besides his earlier innovative scientific work in Liberia and the United States, Professor Dennis demonstrated uncommon patriotism in the 1990s. As Co-Vice Chairs of the Liberia Election Support Group (LESGO), under the leadership the late Dr. Romeo A. Horton, in whose honor the University of Liberia’s (UL’s) College of Business and Public Administration was renamed, we worked together to mobilize resources in the United States to support the then national drive for peace, reconciliation and democratic elections as the bases for  the rebuilding of Liberia from war to peace.  

The Group’s effort climaxed with a Joint Lincoln University/Liberia Election Support Group Symposium on December 3, 1992, to Promote Unity and Reconciliation in Liberia. The outcome of the Symposium was a Plan of Action for the establishment of an African-American and Liberian Alliance for the rebuilding of Liberia from war to peace in collaboration with the organizations we worked with, including the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAPED), TransAfrica, Africare, the African-American Institute,  Africa News, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, African-American Churches and Religious Organizations, African-American Fraternities and Sororities, and the Phelps Stokes Fund.

We reconnected when I served as Vice President for Academic Affairs of the UL from 1996 to 1999. I visited the New Brunswick Campus of Rutgers University, where he then served as Vice President for Student Affairs, to discuss efforts about rebuilding the UL, which was then severely damaged and heavily looted from the Liberian civil war. He helped to galvanize support from across the Rutgers University System to assist the UL Main Library, which was then located on the Capital Hill Campus of the UL. 

When he served as a member of the UL Board of Trustees during my administration as the 12th UL President from 2004 to 2008, Professor Dennis provided his vast expertise and experience in supporting the 2004-2011 Strategic Plan of the UL, which the UL designed with support from United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNDP. 

The focus of the plan was to address five strategic goals that would enable the University contribute to the reconstruction agenda of the country: rebuilding infrastructure (including the Fendall Campus), strengthening teaching, learning and research, responding to the diverse needs of the society, expanding the resource base of the University through the setting up of an Endowment Fund for the UL, and decentralizing higher education. 

He devised his administration’s Strategic Plan when he succeeded me as the 13th President of the UL in 2009. The 2012-2015 UL Strategic Plan took off from the previous plan and expanded the capacity and facilities of the university with a focus on increasing standards and establishing Centers of Excellence. His efforts expanded the international connections, standing, reputation and accreditation of the University for Liberia. 

May the Almighty God abundantly reward him for his tireless efforts in innovating, expanding improving the standards of higher education in the United States and Liberia. May his gentle soul and the souls of all faithful departed rest in perfect peace. 


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