The University of Liberia Faculty Association (ULFA) at a General Assembly held on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, overwhelmingly agreed to return to classes and begin all academic activities effective immediately.
At the same General Assembly, ULFA also unanimously voted to withdraw its vote of no confidence in University of Liberia President, Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr.
The decisions taken by ULFA mark a major milestone in the mediation efforts by national stakeholders aimed at settling issues between the University Administration and the Faculty in the interest of returning students who have sat home for several months during the renovation of UL campuses.
Prior to the vote, ULFA President Dr. Edna Johnny appealed to her colleagues during the general assembly in the Auditorium of UL’s Capitol Hill Campus to rethink their previous decision and return to class.
“So I am appealing to you colleagues, let us go back to teach, with our heads up high. I would [like] you colleagues to rethink your decision,” Dr. Johnny pleaded.
She assured them that while they return to classes, ULFA’s issues with Social Security remittances and other vital issues laid out in the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by ULFA, the University Administration and the Government of Liberia last year, remain on the table for discussion.
Updating her colleagues about the mediation by national stakeholders since ULFA passed a vote of no confidence, Dr. Johnny said when there is a crisis involving UL, it is seen as a national issue.
As such, she said, national stakeholders including the Liberia Council of Churches, the Chair and members of the Board of the University and the Office of the Visitor through the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Hon. Nathaniel McGill, have been engaged with ULFA and the University Administration.
She also indicated that President Nelson acknowledged during the mediation meeting that going forward, information sharing between ULFA and UL Administration will be enhanced.
Dr. Johnny said ULFA’s position during the mediation meeting was that for any negotiation to commence, the issue of double – dipping had to be dropped.
“We told them we were not compromising that,” Dr. Johnny told the General Assembly. She added that ULFA demanded that if the mediation had to proceed, “we have to go back to where we were.”
She urged her colleagues to return to class because ULFA’s goal that none of its members is taken off UL Payroll for double – dipping was achieved.
Following deliberations, ULFA unanimously voted to withdraw its vote of no confidence in President Nelson and to return to class effective immediately.
The faculty also gave a condition that they are returning to class with the understanding that ULFA and UL Administration will not pursue any judicial review regarding the issue of double – dipping.
Additionally, ULFA demanded that the University Administration should find a solution to the transportation challenges facing faculty members assigned to the David A. Straz – Sinje campus in Grand Cape Mount County, among others.
In a related development, Dr. Johnny has appealed to ULFA members to extend an olive branch to UL Part – time instructors whose action she said is viewed by some ULFA members as a betrayal.
“I do not want us to look at our colleagues as enemies. I know they did not treat us fairly. We have advocated for them and put their issues in the MOU,” said Dr. Johnny.
Her statement was in reference to UL part – time instructors’ willingness to fill the gap if ULFA members did not return to class.
“But they turned their back on us when we needed them most. But we have succeeded and let’s extend [an] olive branch to them,” she added.
All academic activities resumed on the campuses of the University of Liberia on Monday, June 27, 2022, based on progress made in the ongoing renovation exercise on the university’s campuses.