Vice Chancellor of the Imo State University (IMSU), Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie speaks on the secret of running a tuition-free university and the scorecard of his administration with OKODILI NDIDI.
How will you rate the performance of the free education programme?
Impressive. The free education of the Imo State University is a huge success. As we speak Commissioners of Education from other states have been coming to the University to study how we managed the programme so that they can introduce it in their respective states.
How have you been able to manage the university relying mainly on subvention?
It has always been my candid opinion that universities should, to a great extent, be self sustaining financially. I have always reiterated my plan to lay a solid foundation, upon the expiration of my tenure, which would ensure that the university would be able to generate a bulk of the resources for its operations through research outlets, endowments, alumni organisations and partnerships/linkages with national and international organizations.
Upon assumption of duty, I discovered that the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine had been focusing more on theoretical rather than practical aspect of its mandate. To put the Faculty on sound footing and to ensure that it serves not only as an institute for the propagation of knowledge, but also a major income earner for the university, my administration has been able to among other things; increased the number of birds in the poultry section to such an extent that the poultry presently sells eggs and birds to the university community and members of the public. We increased the number of pigs in the piggery and as a result, products of the piggery are now in the open market. We also established eight fish ponds stocked with over 2,000 fingerlings. It is expected that within the shortest possible time, these ponds would prove to be major income earners for the university.
My administration also resuscitated the moribund feed mill on Campus that was neglected by previous administrations and it is now performing at optimal capacity. Upon the realization of the place of such feed mill in the drive for improved income generation for the university, my administration will remain committed o its continued expansion.
Being a Vice-Chancellor is quite different from being a unionist. In the first 12 months of your tenure as the substantive Vice Chancellor, what have you done to transform the institution?
Upon my appointment as the Acting Vice-Chancellor by the Visitor to the University, Governor Rochas Okorocha on November 22nd, 2012, I set about putting in place the relevant governance and administrative infrastructure necessary for the smooth running of the university. To this effect, I demonstrated to the Visitor the need for the urgent constitution of the Governing Council for the university. Prior to this time, the absence of a council for the university had been a huge impediment to the development of sustainable and robust governance and administrative framework for the university.
The advent of the 7th Governing Council has brought in its wake; the commencement of the process for the ethical rebirth within the university community and the process for a comprehensive intellectual values re-engineering among staff and students. No doubt my administration has made tremendous and appreciable progress in this regard as sound moral, ethical and intellectual values have begun to permeate the institution’s environment.
Also the Senate before the advent of my administration had uncertain days of meeting. Under my administration, our University like other Universities now has a definite date of meeting and a robust calendar for its functions, as each meeting’s deliberations are followed up with action sheets.
In what other ways have you brought your past experiences to bear in the management of the University in the last one year?
As a foremost academic and a trade unionist, I understand the need to maintain high standards within the university community. I understand the essence of the proper incentivisation of the workers, particularly through regular payment of salaries and prompt sponsorship of staff and students to international and national conferences, workshops and seminars. My administration has in the past two years in collaboration with the TETFund research fund, sponsored over 16 members of Staff for MSc and PhD programmes at both international and local Universities. This is considered as a necessary step towards the development of a virile and robust University