A record of number of candidates totaling 3,673 are set to graduate from the University of Liberia’s 39 degree-granting programs, seven undergraduate colleges, eight graduate programs and three professional schools, at the institution marks its Centennial Commencement Convocation on Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

This year’s graduating class surpasses the previous record of 3,349 set in 2016-17 during the 98th Commencement Convocation. The official ceremony starts at 11 a.m. at the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Sports Stadium in Paynesville, Liberia.

According to the Chair of the UL’s Centennial Commencement Committee, Dr. Williams Ezra Allen, Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Centennial Commencement Convocation is historic not just for the University of Liberia, but also for the Republic of Liberia

“The first graduation took place in 1866, when the then Liberia College, now the University of Liberia, conferred the Bachelor of Arts degree on a lone candidate, Mr. James Henry Evans,” said Dr. Allen in a speech delivered during the launch of the Centennial Commencement Committee. “At the next commencement, in 1867, the institution put out two graduates, namely, Anthony T. Ferguson and James Elijah Moore. Afterwards there were short and long periods when the fledgling Liberia College did not hold graduations, for example, 1868-69, 1874-1902, 1906, 1908, 1909, 1911, and beyond. Thus by 1951 the year that Liberia College was renamed University of Liberia, the institution had missed an estimated total of 46 commencements.”

According to the statistics from the Office of Enrollment Services (OES) at the University of Liberia, 1,362 candidates have been cleared for graduation from the Business College, while 224 students have also been cleared from the Science College for graduation.

Further, 669 candidates from Liberia College; 176 candidates from Engineering College; 218 candidates from Graduate and Professional Studies; and 337 candidates from Teachers College have been cleared by the University for graduation this December.

Additionally, 532 candidates are from Agriculture College, 65 candidates from Straz-Sinje and 44 candidates from the College of Life and Health Sciences will graduate on December 11, 2019, making up a total of 3,627 candidates.

During this commencement, five candidates will graduate with Summa Cum-Laude; 18 with Magna Cum-laude and 36 with Cum-Laude.

Student Solomon T. Marlee, who majored in Geography, Liberia College, and comes from Nimba County, is the Centenary’s valedictorian with a total cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.830, while graduate student M. Bedor-Wla Freeman (Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation) from Maryland County, has the highest GPA of 3.857 from the graduate and professional schools.

Lofa County has 878 candidates, which is the highest number among all the counties. Bong County comes second with 463 candidates, and Nimba County is closely behind in third with 448 candidates.

The remaining counties are as follows: 249 are from Grand Bassa; 243 from Grand Cape Mount; 235 from Montserrado; 190 from Maryland; 182 from Grand Kru; 162 from Sinoe; 139 from Bomi; 87 from Grand Gedeh; 85 from River Gee and 64 from River Cess.

The commencement comes barely two weeks after the inauguration of Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., as the 15th President of the University of Liberia. In his inaugural address, Dr. Nelson promised that Centennial Commencement will not be “LAZY,” a Liberian way of saying the ceremony will be grand.

“Cognizant of the historic significance associated with this commencement, Dr. Nelson confirmed that the 100th Commencement Convocation Speaker will be the current President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio,” said Dr. Nelson, during his inauguration on November 28, 2019.

Also expected to attend the historic commencement, is H.E. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia and Visitor of the University of Liberia. This commencement would be President Weah’s second since becoming President and vVsitor of the University of Liberia. He was the commencement speaker at the 99th Commencement Convocation and received an Honorary Doctorate.

The theme of the Centennial Commencement Celebration is “Memory, Preservation, and the Way Forward.” It was launched on 11 March 2019, with Dr. Williams Ezra Allen, appointed as chair.

Three projects were identified to commemorate the 100th Commencement Convocation: The construction of a state-of-the-art Printing Press for the University of Liberia, the launching of a time capsule, and the writing of a concise history of the University of Liberia.

In reference to the time capsule, Dr. Allen said: “The Centennial Commencement is preparing a concise history of the University of Liberia. These and other textual materials from this Centennial will constitute the bridge that connects us to next generation of the University family. In addition, we will create and bury a time capsule with important information of this Centennial Commencement. It is my fervent prayer that when the time capsule is opened a century from now, I will be there to welcome all of you again to celebrate the bicentennial commencement.”