We received with sadness the news that Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, Former President of the University of Liberia, Former Member, UL Board of Trustees; Professor Emeritus, A. M. Dogliotti School of Medicine succumbed to death.

This is a profound loss for Liberia’s flagship institution of higher learning, The University of Liberia, and the Educational Sector in Liberia. Dr. Emmet A. Dennis was a man of deep trust, extraordinary talent, incredible interpersonal skills, and a gifted administrator. His leadership on the University campus was all-encompassing and strong. In the last three decades, he devoted his time to educating young people at the University of Liberia and in Liberia at large including the United States. He advocated for the expansion of the University of Liberia campuses.

He so lived his life as to be entitled to the highest tribute that can be paid to mortal man. Fidelity was his guiding star. In private and public, life he was true to every trust. He was a true, faithful, committed, and dedicated servant to humanity.

Dr. Emmet Adolphus Dennis was born and raised in Liberia. He attended and graduated from St. John’s Episcopal High School in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County before matriculating to the Cuttington College and Divinity School (now Cuttington University) in Liberia for his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and subsequently traveled to the United States for his graduate and postgraduate degrees. Upon returning home, he joined the University of Liberia, and served as a Member of the UL Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2008 and from 2017 till his death. He also served with distinction as Professor of Microbiology and Parasitology at the A. M. Dogliotti School of Medicine and the 13th President of The University of Liberia from 2008-2017. He also served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the William V. S. Tubman University and President of the Association of Liberian Universities and Colleges.

As President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Emmet A. Dennis focused on academic integrity, curricular transformation, faculty, staff and student development, and infrastructure enhancement and rehabilitation within the context of a student-centered environment. He established partnerships with several international universities and colleges, which led to the acquisition of major grants, graduate studies for potential faculty and the institution of up-to-date curricula. 

Glancing at the UL during the administration of the late Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, there were some notable achievements, which include but not limited to new establishments & entities such as David A. Straz-Sinje Technical & Vocational College in Grand Cape Mount County; full utilization of the New Fendall Campus; Lux in Tenebris Honors Program; Bachelor Degree Nursing & Midwifery Program with TNIMA and JFK; Student Academic Advisement and Career Counseling Center (SA2C3); Engineering College; President’s Student Advisory Council; Faculty & Staff Health and Death Benefits; Faculty & Staff salaries increased by 62%; Faculty & Staff retirement calculated on last salary earned rather than, as per labor law, on the average of the last five years salaries, among others.

Although he must have had some lucrative offers, he never left the UL, and he devoted his entire career to education. As a life-long educator, as well as being a leading civic figure in Liberia and the diaspora, he has published many peer-reviewed journal articles in his field.

He seemed to retire in 2017, but there seemed to have been no diminution whatsoever in his academic activity. Recognition came to him in many honors, including Cuttington University naming its Science College: The Emmet A. Dennis College of Natural Science and the hosting of the ever First Annual Emmet A. Dennis Scientific Conference, which was held in Monrovia, Liberia in 2018 by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia.

He was as friendly, approachable, and unassuming as ever, a fountain of knowledge modestly imparted. His work in education was pioneering, leading the way where many since to have followed. Just as inspiringly, he remained fascinated by and devoted to education to the end of his life. Our sadness at his passing is tempered by memories of his grace and good humor, and the wisdom copiously displayed in his many important speeches. His unfailing fortitude and placidness helped overcome many of the people awe at his intellect and productivity.

The Apostle Paul’s Letter to Young Timothy in the New Testament Book of II Timothy Chapter Four verses Six to Eight (II Timothy 4:6-8) Is very significant to share with you as I bring this tribute to a close. It reads from the Living Bible Version…….

“I say this because I won’t be around to help you very much longer. My time has almost run out. Very soon, now I will be on my way to heaven. I have fought long and hard for my Lord, and through it all I have kept true to him (kept the faith). And now this time has come for me to stop fighting and rest. In Heaven, a crown is waiting for me which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And not just to me, but to all those whose lives show that they are eagerly looking forward to his coming back again……”

We will miss him. Heaven’s gain is our loss.”

Rest in peace Professor Dr. Emmet A. Dennis: distinguished academician, student-centered President, educator, eminent scholar, erudite patriot, and people center leader. Definitely, you have left footprints in the sands of time – footprints that all budding academics like others would aspire to follow, even if it means achieving half of your achievements. We don’t mourn you; rather, we celebrate you because you’ve been a real gift and talent to The University of Liberia, Liberia, and the world. 

On behalf of the Visitor of the University, the Chair and Members of the Board of Trustees, Administration, faculty, staff, students, and in my own name as the 15th President of the University of Liberia, extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the immediate family for the irreparable loss of an astute and esteemed educator.  

May his soul rest in perfect peace and life perpetual shine on him in the name of the Creator, the Savior and Comforter.  AMEN!!!

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Professor Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr.

15th President, University of Liberia

University of Liberia