The University of Liberia (UL), on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Sierra Leone (USL) at the State House in Freetown. The agreement, which is the first of its kind between these two historic African Universities, will facilitate collaboration in the areas of research; grant application; students, faculty & staff exchanges; curricula enhancement; visiting lectureship and seminars; cultural exchanges; joint publication and study visits among others.
Under the watch of His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, the MoU was signed by Rev. Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., President of the University of Liberia and witnessed by Associate Professor Weade Kobbah Boley, Vice President for Institutional Development and Planning of the University of Liberia, for and on behalf of the University of Liberia, while for the University of Sierra Leone the document was signed by its Vice Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Dr. Foday Sahr, and witnessed by the Registrar, Madam Olive Kash Barrie.
In his statement preceding the signing, Vice Chancellor Sahr revealed that the University of Sierra Leone has signed several memoranda with higher education institutions from the region (including Cuttington and United Methodist Universities in Liberia) but the MoU with the UL is the first to be supervised by the Head of State and Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone H.E. Julius Maada Bio himself. “The signing of memoranda would normally have been the business of the administrative heads of the two universities. But the fact that the signing of this memorandum is being presided over by his Excellency the President, is not only another manifestation of the time and energy the President attaches to education at all levels in Sierra Leone, but also the relevance, recognition and respect the President attaches to the long-standing bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and Liberia; not only in the field of education, but in many other areas of mutual concerns and interests.” Prof. Dr. Sahr noted.
He added that partnerships amongst higher education institutions are critical because no level of resource endowment can guarantee success for any institution in this sector without collaboration. The USL Vice Chancellor assured His Excellency Maada Bio and Dr. Nelson of the USL’s full commitment to the provisions of the MoU and of their interest in striving to implement all of its elements, mainly because of the importance President Bio attaches to this MoU. “Over the years, University of Sierra Leone has signed MoU’s and successfully established linkages and partnerships with several institutions in the sub-region and beyond…This is the first time that the President, who is the Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, is presiding over the signing of an MoU between our institution and another institution. This definitely underscores the importance our Excellency places on this particular partnership.” Dr. Sahr reckoned.
Making his opening statement at the signing ceremony, Rev. Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., outlined the academic, historical, cultural and economic relevance of the MoU and thanked President Bio for initiating the process that led to the signing ceremony and for personally overseeing it. The UL President made the case that a strong collaboration amongst higher education institutions is a critical missing component of ongoing development initiatives in the sub-region. Dr. Nelson pointed out that given the parallel histories of Sierra Leone and Liberia and the many commonalities the peoples of the two countries have, a deep integration of their higher education systems through collaboration and partnership is long overdue. He added that with this MoU, cross-cultural education will be enhanced through students, faculty and staff exchange programs, which will promote peace, stability and progress in the two countries aside from the direct net positive impact on research, innovation and socio-economic development.
Following the signing of the MoU, President Bio, who oversaw the process, commended the leadership of USL and UL but challenged them to immediately start implementing elements of the MoU and to consider financing and sustainability mechanisms.
Gracing the occasion were Hon. D. Ansu Sonii, Minister of Education of the Republic of Liberia, Prof. Alpha Wurie, Minister for Technical and Higher Education of the Republic of Sierra and Madam Musu J. Ruhle, Ambassador of the Republic of Liberia to the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Representing the University of Sierra Leone were Brig. Gen. Prof. Dr. Foday Sahr (Vice Chancellor & Principal); Prof. John Abdul Kargbo (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Fourah Bay College); Prof. Samuel Edmond Nonie (Vice Chancellor, IPAM); Prof. Dr. Mohamed Samai (Vice Chancellor, COMAHS); Prof. Miriam Conteh-Morgan (Librarian, USL); Mrs. Olive Kash Barrie (Registrar, USL); Mrs. Waltina Brenda Mackay (Finance Director, USL); Dr. Williette James (Acting Head of Mass Communication Department at FBC and President of the Academic Staff Association); Dr. Tonya Hindolo Musa (Director of Media, Alumni and International Relations, USL) and Mr. Maa-Oul-La-Neine Tunis (USL Mace Bearer).
The University of Liberia was represented by Rev. Prof. Dr. Julius J.S. Nelson (President); Associate Prof. Weade Kobbah Boley (Vice President for Institutional Development and Planning); Dr. Darren Wilkins (Vice President for Information and Communication Technology); Cllr. Viama Blama (Vice President for Legal Affairs); Associate Prof. Sekou Konneh (Vice President for Student Affairs); Dr. Moses Gray (Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities); MD Bernice Dahn (Dean of the College of Health Sciences); Dr. Edna Jonny (President of the Faculty Association); Atty. Cletus Sieh (Executive Assistant, Office of the UL President); Mr. James Siato (President of the Staff Association); Ms. Dekontee A. Tubman (Director of Protocol); Mr. Thomas Karyah (Director of University Relations) and Ms. Abigail Dorbor (Student).
In December 2019, H.E. Maada Bio served as the Centennial Graduation Speaker of the University of Liberia. During his time in Monrovia to perform this function he encouraged the heads of both the University of Sierra Leone and the University of Liberia to form a partnership as a platform for collaboration in striving for innovative solutions to common problems. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on 7 September 2021 was the actualization of the request made by the President of the Republic of Sierra Sierra Leone in 2019.
The University of Sierra Leone (USL) is a public higher education institution comprising of the Fourah Bay College (FBC), the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), and the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS). It was founded in 1827 as Fourah Bay College. It was reconstituted with these three colleges in 2005 following the legislation of the Higher Education Act.