Dr. Wonkeryor Takes Over At NCHE -As Minister Sonii Urges Him to Make It Better

The newly appointed Director General of the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE), Professor Edward Lama Wonkeryor, PhD, has formally taken over at the institution. Dr. Wonkeryor was inducted into office recently by the Chairman of the NCHE Board of Commissioners, Professor D. Ansu Sonii, Sir, at a colorful ceremony held at the headquarter of NCHE, SD Cooper Road, Paynesville City, Montserrado County.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Wonkeryor expressed thanks and appreciation to President Dr. George Manneh Weah, for appointing him to the position. Dr. Wonkeryor also extended warm sentiments to the NCHE Board of Commissioners for his induction and assured the body of his readiness to work with the Board to bring the much needed transformation to the higher education subsector. Professor Wonkeryor further committed his tenure to improve the quality of higher education and make our graduates competitive to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.

“It’s the overriding expectation of my administration to work with my colleagues, the Presidents of Universities and Colleges in Liberia to formulate and implement policies that will help to transform the higher institution system of the country. It is my goal to revive quality higher education for the Liberian citizenry. It is my expectation that my administration will provide a conducive working environment at NCHE based on mutual respect, collaboration and team work”, the renowned academic said.

He urged the management, staff and workers at the National Commission on Higher Education to come together and objectively discuss issues, as well as form a consensus on those issues that confront the progress and development of quality education in the country. He stated that if there has been bickering between the leadership and some top staff on one hand and the administration and general staff on the other hand, he would like to implore each and every one of them to forgive whoever may have offended them either consciously or unconsciously.

“In other words, I ask that let by-gone be by-gone, and openly accept each other as brothers and sisters, avoid those vices that have the propensity to divide us , retard and diminish the gains made by NCHE since its inception”, he stated.

He told his staff that if they work together in peace and harmony, the goals and aspirations of his administration, particularly formulating and implementing policies that will help the various institutions of higher learning to provide quality higher education in Liberia, will be actualized.

“Finally, it is my hope and prayer that as we leave this introductory program, we will do so with a new spirit of brotherhood and collaboration and to show words of profound appreciation for each other here at NCHE”, he concluded.

Earlier, the Minister of Education, Professor D. Ansu Sonii, Sr. who is also Chairman of the Board of Commissioner of the National Commission On Higher Education said he was exceedingly happy to have Dr. Wonkeryor heading NCHE, describing him as a mentor to all which include university leadership, students and the whole sector.

“And so we count on his contribution, his pieces of advice, his professional character that will help to oversee the transition from where we are to where we should be”, Minister Sonii enthused.

He said he has been knowing Dr. Wonkeryor for some time now but what he takes as a major point of knowing him was when the new Director General of NCHE was making the case for the then Nimba County Community College (now Nimba University) to be made a full-fledged University. According to Dr. Sonii, Dr. Wonkeryor passionately and flawlessly pursued the cause of NCCC’s elevation, which was graciously granted by the Board. He said with that level of persuasion that he convincingly put through; the Board under his administration had no other alternative but to grant the wish for the Nimba County Community College to become a full-fledged University.

He told the new Director General that though resources may not be adequate to perform to the level of expectation but such appointment as the one given to Dr. Wonkeryor calls for sacrifices and the will to make a difference, something he said he has no doubt that Dr. Wonkeryor will work hard to bring the necessary changes and overcome most of those challenges facing the institution and higher education as a whole.

Minister Sonii further said that for the purpose of ranking or giving consideration to any staff at the NCHE, it should always be based on hard work, stressing that a true academic should be responsive to other academics.

He encouraged the staff to welcome the new Director General with open mind and rally around him for the smooth operation of his administration. “If he does not give you the recognition you need, then maybe you may not fit in that team he wants to structure. Your expectation may not augur well with what he wants to achieve, but that does not mean you are not important in the direction he wants to take NCHE. You can still be useful for what NCHE should achieve under his administration”.

The veteran educator also acknowledged and made special commendation to the upsurge of women in the academic world, especially those taking leadership positions at the various universities, something he said before was referred to as “the boys club”. “I am very excited for them. They are now breaking the ceiling, and not just breaking it, but breaking it from the top”, Dr. Sonii concluded.

Dr. Wonkeryor is coming on board at NCHE when there has been a lot of issues surrounding the dwindling fortune of higher education in the country ranging from poor learning environment, lack of qualified teachers, proliferation of substandard and fake higher institutions, certificates’ forgery, etc, rocking the sector.

As an erudite scholar, many in the higher education sector are of the opinion that Dr. Wonkeryor is the perfect choice that can salvage the sector for now and provide the direction it should take. He holds a doctorate Degree in African and American Studies from Temple University (1995), a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina (1980), and a Bachelors of Arts (B.A) in Communications from Rowan University (1978).

He has vast experience in higher education administration both at home and abroad. He served as President of the William V.S. Tubman University from July 1, 2016- March 5, 2018, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Cuttington University from 2013 to 2016. In this position, he served as the Chief Academic Officer of the University responsible for academic related affairs and leadership. As the Chief Operating Officer of the University, he was responsible for the operation of the university and he served on the President’s Executive Council with the senior leadership. He also promoted academic excellence throughout the university, pursuing global educational opportunities on behalf of faculty and students.

Prior to joining Cuttington University, the exemplary academic worked as an assistant professor in the African American Studies Department of Temple University, where he focused on African Studies and Mass Communication, specifically teaching courses in African studies, African-American Studies and Mass Communication and mentored Master’s and PhD students.

He has authored more than 10 books, including occasional papers, encyclopedia, entries, and peer reviews, on the African military, ethnicity, political, communications, broadcasting, development and evolving democracy in Africa. His research interests are in African political history, peace and conflict resolutions, military studies, democratic governance, security and globalization, 19th and 20th century, African-American history, race and ethnic relations, etc.

Dr. Wonkeryor’s last position in academia before being appointed as Director General of the National Commission on Higher Education was President of Nimba University. He is presently Co-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PYJ Polytechnic University in Ganta, Nimba County.

He had previously worked at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) as Radio Manager and at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC) as Public Relations Officer (PRO) in the 1980s.

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