An alumni of the University and President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) has criticized the administration the continuous dependency of the university on donations, says this situation of continuing dependency on private donations from abroad for a period nearly as long as this country has existed creates an impression that Liberia’s independence as a nation is a mere declaration and not a reality.
The Liberian lawyer and activists beseeched former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and current President George M. Weah to follow the great example set by the Liberia’s first President Joseph Jenkins Robert who willed his coffee farm then located at the Mamba Point to the Methodist Church for the education of the children of Liberia, by willing a portion their life-holdings to the University of Liberia like Roberts did.
The LNBA President spoke at the 100th Anniversary of Homecoming Day of the Alumni Association of the University of Liberia last Friday. Cllr. Gongloe served as the keynote speaker at the occasion on the main Campus of the University of Liberia on the Capitol Hill, Monrovia.
Cllr. Gongloe who also says Liberia has to break from this situation of continuous dependency, indicated that no human being or nation can be truly independent if it depends on others for its basic needs, like the need to educate one’s own children or the children of a nation.
Gongloe historicized the foundation of the country’s highest institution for tertiary education when he pointed out how clear was the need for Liberia as a country to have a means of educating its citizens for public and private services, and added that at the foundation of the UL, the finances for establishing the Liberia College which has become the University of Liberia did not come from the Government of Liberia.
He disclosed that the original sources of funding this great venture for the training of Liberia’s leaders in the public and private sectors came from the New York Colonization Society and the Trustees of Donation for Education in Liberia (TDEL), stating that he considers it a shameful part of the University’s history that Liberians, especially well-endowed members of the Alumni Association have not taken full responsibility for providing private support to their Alma Mater.
“While one of the two organizations that financed Liberia College in 1862, the Trustees of Donation for Education in Liberia still supports the University of Liberia to this day, I consider it a shameful part of the University’s history that Liberians, especially well-endowed members of the Alumni Association have not taken full responsibility for providing private support to our Alma Mater,” Gongloe averred.
He however appreciates the continuing good will of the Trustees of Donation to Liberia for Education in Liberia but strongly believe that the dependency of the University of Liberia on an organization that assisted Liberia in as a young independent nation is not a situation that Liberians should be proud of.
“We have to break from this situation of continuous dependency. No human being or nation can be truly independent if it depends on others for its basic needs, like the need to educate one’s own children or the children of a nation,” he emphasized.
According to him, alumni of the University of Liberia must commit ourselves individually and collectively to give back to the University of Liberia as of the 100th Anniversary of Homecoming Day he addressed. “We must make a firm determination be the largest source of all donations to the University of Liberia.”
The capacity of the University of Liberia as the oldest institution in Liberia for the training of Liberian leaders will remain weak, if a large percentage of its funding continues to come from the government and foreign donors, such as the Trustees of Donations for education in Liberia, Cllr Gongloe stressed.
He further stressed that the UL Alumni and leaders need to learn from the example set by the First President of the Republic of Liberia who was also the first president of Liberia College, the precursor to the University of Liberia. “He, for me, is the greatest past president of Liberia by every standard.
“He was nationalistic, patriotic, committed to the success of Liberia and a humble leader as shown by the fact after serving as President of Liberia, he agree to serve as President of Liberia College and thereby brought his leadership experience and skill in order to make the idea of establishing a higher institution of learning for the future leaders become a reality. Above all Joseph Jenkins Roberts was a generous leader,” the Liberian lawyer and activists extolled former President Roberts.
He set an example that on other president of Liberia has ever followed. He willed his coffee farm then located at the Mamba Point to the Methodist Church for the education of the children of Liberia.
Up to present, more than hundred years after his death, the children of Liberia continue to benefit from the generosity President Joseph Jenkins Roberts through the JJ Roberts Educational Foundation that the United Methodist Church has managed so well. At this juncture, I want to congratulate the United Methodist Church for being a good executor of the will of President Joseph Jenkins Roberts.
Gongloe said if all of our past presidents had donated or willed a portion of their properties to the University of Liberia, “our Alma Mater would have been in a better position today, financially.”
He therefore appealed to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and current President George M. Weah to follow the great example set by the first President of Liberia, by willing a portion their life-holdings to the University of Liberia, urging all former students and graduates of the University of Liberia as well as friends of the University of Liberia to donate or make provisions in their wills for the support of the University of Liberia.
Another source of raising money for a university, he pointed out, is the naming of buildings, halls, classrooms, departments in honor of donors or persons of interest to donors. Giving a few examples of this suggestion, Cllr. Gongloe added that the American University, Administration Courtyard is named the LINK PLAZA after the donors, Mr. and Mrs. Troland S. Link, the Courtyard Fountain of the same university is named Abdel Aziz El Masry Fountain, named after the donor Abdel Aziz Farid El Masry and even a meeting rooms at that university are named after donors, such as Meeting Room (P021) named “The Elting, Laflin and Treat Families Room” after the donors Mr. and Mrs. John Elting Treat.
At the same American University, a roof-top entertainment space is named Paul and Charlotte Corddry Terrace after the donors Paul I and Charlotte P. Corddry and lastly the President of the University’s office terrace is called Arnold Terrace named after Mr. David D. Arnold and Mrs. Sherry Lee Arnold.
This is what is done at many universities, around the world. Spaces, structures and objects are named after donors or persons that donors want to honor.
If the alumni association or even the University of Liberia administration wants to name a building, a department, hall or hallway in honor of Mary Antoinette Brown, then a group of donors must raise money to support that effort as it is, for example, at the American University in Cairo where the office of the controller at bears the inscription, “In Memory of Nabila Hanna Khalil, and University Deputy Controller and Manager General Accounting Section (1964-2006)” carries the names of over sixty donors.
On this note, Cllr. Gongloe appealed to families of those whose parents were honored by the University of Liberia by placing their names on departments, halls and buildings, to make generous donations for the upkeep of those departments, halls, and buildings by either giving money, buildings, farms, parcels of town and farmlands to the University of Liberia.
He pointed, for example, to the William V. S. Tubman family could donate the Totota Farm of President William V. S. Tubman to the University of Liberia for the upkeep of the Teachers’ College or the Tubman’s house in Congo Town, which apparently has been vacant for years or both and similarly, noted the Tolbert family which her said could donate Tolbert’s farm in Belefana for the upkeep of the College of Agriculture and Forestry as funding sources for the UL
In a related development, Gongloe said the type of leaders that the university committed itself to produce is reflected in the motto of the University of Liberia, “Lux in tenebris”, a Latin phrase which means light in darkness.
“We, college educated Liberians trained by the University of Liberia were meant to be light in the darkness both in the public and private sectors. Yet when we take stock of ourselves, I do not think that we can be proud that we have all lived up to the dream of becoming lights in darkness,” he said, pointing out that if all of the students trained by this university had given concrete meaning to the dream encapsulated by the motto of the University of Liberia, our country would not have been as backward as it is today.
For him, some fellow alumni were lights when they were here at the university as students; but, upon their graduation they immediately switched off and became dark in darkness, adding “We must be privately and openly critical of our fellow alumni who betray the motto light in darkness in order to promote the good name of our university and to preventing our country from collapsing. Nobody trained by the University of Liberia can ever count himself or herself among the poor.”
He said a University of Liberia graduate can use his or her creativity developed by this university to find an honest means of survival. “Those alumni of our dear university who betray lux in tenebris by amassing wealth through dishonorable means are driven by the greed for wealth and not the mere desire to survive.”
He called on fellow alumni members to keep their distance from such alumni who betrayed the objective of the ‘Lux in Tenebris’ and even expose them for the good name of our Alma Mater and the good of our country or risked being term birds of the same feathers as once said by Albert Einstein, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”