Below is a Speech Delivered by Dr.  Rev. Julius Sarwolo Nelson Jr., President of the University of Liberia (UL) Announcing the Commencement of a  Full Special eLearning Academic Semester 2019/20

Statement Delivered by
Prof. Dr. Julius J. S. Nelson Jr.
President of the University of Liberia (UL
Capitol Hill Campus
Monrovia, Liberia
July 2, 2020

Members of the UL Board of Trustees
Dr. Moses Zinnah, Vice President for Academic Affairs and other
Members of the University of Liberia Cabinet
Faculty and Staff
The Leadership of ULFA and ULSA
Mr. Benedict Paye,
Chairperson of the UL Student Transitional Council and other student leaders General Student Body
Members of the Fourth Estate

Ladies and Gentleman

Greetings of Shalom (Peace),

For the past few years, the University of Liberia has been breaching frontiers in instituting reforms aimed at improving standards and equipping students to be nationally productive and internationally competitive.

In our effort to continue to provide quality and affordable education for our students, consistent with the mission of the University, which is: “To provide academic freedom of creative thinking ‘outside of the box’ in a scholastic environment,” we embarked upon the process that resulted into the full automation, integration and digitization of our registration and grading systems.

Similarly, in 2018, when thousands of university students risked dropping out of school because of financial difficulty, the Government of Liberia (GoL) intervened and announced a tuition-free policy for undergraduate students at the University of Liberia. This policy has led to a steady increment of student enrollment at the University of Liberia.

To ensure our mission of “Providing academic freedom of creative thinking” remains a core function of this institution, the University through the assistance of USAID-Digital Liberia installed a fiber-optic internet connection on three of our four campuses, with Straz Sinje soon to be connected via microwave technology by a local provider, and we have also begun a comprehensive review of our academic curricula to ensure our courses conform to contemporary learning and teaching in the 21st Century.

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the fourth estate…

A major ‘next-step’ in the internationalization of this university was a comprehensive relook at the pedagogical framework. During the 2018/2019 academic year, a plan was developed to gradually upgrade this framework to guarantee that we are on par with top universities in the region, remain competitive continentally and strive for convergence of standards with top universities in other parts of the world. It was then agreed that the University of Liberia will gradually transition to a blended learning environment in two years—an environment in which students and faculty members will take full advantage of current technology in their academic and social interactions.

In a disruptive manner, the Covid-19 pandemic has interrupted this plan and changed the sequential nature of its delivery as well as affected all normal academic activities at the University of Liberia.

However, based on the unpredictable timeline marking the end of Covid-19, it is unequivocally clear and apparent that in order to cope with the pandemic we must ‘adopt and adapt.’

After a month into full lockdown, institutions of learning began exploring ways to deliver content to students without undermining health protocols. The University of Liberia, with about 20,000 students spread across the country during this period of restricted movements, faced the dilemma of either investing into digital education with obvious challenges or doing nothing until it is safe for students to return on campus.

In keeping with our mission, role and responsibilities, the University of Liberia chose the option of adopting pre-Covid-19 digitalization plan, thus discarding the option of doing nothing.

Since May, we have channeled all resources towards the reopening of school in a non-traditional way so as to achieve the twin goals of honoring our educational commitments and upholding public health guidelines.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, Students and members of the UL Faculty, with support from the Government of Liberia, and in collaboration with local partners, I am pleased to announce that The flagship University of Liberia will commence classes for the Second Semester of academic 2019/2020 on July 28, 2020 as a Special eLearning Semester. This online learning semester will be conducted on Moodle, the leading and globally-supported Learning Management System, along with our digital registration and enrolment management system.

This is a huge shift. It is a transformation that will challenge us all (students and faculty alike); but, deep integration of technology in learning is the future of higher education.
When The Visitor announced the digitization of the systems at the University of Liberia two years ago, that set in motion a process which was ultimately leading us to the actualization of eLearning. This pandemic has only hastened the process.

Acknowledging the magnitude of the challenges of conducting a novel online learning semester and to ensure success, we have considered the needs of our students. An agreement has been reached with a local partner for the provision of data packages and computing gadgets at affordable rates for REGISTERED STUDENTS.

Through our Department of University Relations, Academic Affairs will release the revised schedule for the second semester academic 2019/2020.

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, progress comes through deliberate actions and this Coronavirus pandemic presents a rare opportunity to embrace the inevitable change of welcoming technology in our learning environment from the 14the century to the 21st century.

If eLearning is the future, now is the time. Administrators, faculty, staff and our wonderful students (men and women of the University), welcome to the dawn of a new era of distance or E-learning at the LUX-IN-TENEBRIS. We are brightening the light.

Thank you one and all.

In Mission with a Vision