A vice chan­cel­lor’s di­ary (2)

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - OPINION - By Sun­day Saanu

BY our tra­di­tion, ap­proval of all the ses­sional exam re­sults sig­ni­fies the of­fi­cial end of ses­sion. You felt a sense of re­lief that the pro­tracted 2016/2017 ses­sion had fi­nally ended. Sen­ate had the pre­vi­ously day con­sid­ered and ap­proved the aca­demic cal­en­dar for the fol­low­ing ses­sion. A 23-day break was ap­proved so that the aca­demic staff who had been put under tremen­dous pres­sure could have some time to re­cu­per­ate. Some of your deans of fac­ul­ties had over the past few weeks in­ti­mated you about the com­plaints of their aca­demic staff cen­tred on the stress you in par­tic­u­lar and the man­age­ment, in gen­eral. had put them through over the last four months. Meet­ing over you went back to your of­fice. You per­formed some chores. Left for home at 9 pm.

Wed­nes­day: You were in the of­fice most of this day. A team from the Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco Nige­ria (BATN) Foun­da­tion came vis­it­ing. Led by the Gen­eral Man­ager, Mrs. Olo­lade John­son-agiri; Project Man­ager, Mr. Oluse­gun Ade­wole and the Ex­ec­u­tive As­sis­tant, Mrs. Iniomon Chid­inma. A Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing is to be de­vel­oped and signed im­me­di­ately. You were par­tic­u­larly proud that both Olo­lade and Oluse­gun are Alumni of the Univer­sity of Ibadan. The ob­jec­tive of the BATN Foun­da­tion ini­tia­tive is to as­sist our bud­ding agro­preneurs who may wish to go into com­mer­cial and mech­a­nised farm­ing. Hap­pily, we have many of them in the Fac­ulty of Agri­cul­ture, Fac­ulty of Re­new­able Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Fac­ulty of Vet­eri­nary Medicine, Fac­ulty of Tech­nol­ogy, Depart­ment of Hu­man Nu­tri­tion, among oth­ers.

Under this part­ner­ship, more em­pha­sis would be placed on ground­ing and deep­en­ing the ca­pac­ity of our un­der­grad­u­ates in com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture and en­sur­ing that they ac­quire en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills so that be­fore grad­u­a­tion they would be ca­pa­ble of be- ing em­ploy­ers of labour rather than job seek­ers, in view of the seem­ingly sat­u­rated job mar­ket.

Your very good friend and col­league came to your of­fice ex­press­ing wor­ries about the state of health of his dad. He later called you on phone that evening that he had just lost his beloved dad, aged 84. You ex­pressed sym­pa­thy.

You had an evening ap­point­ment at the Lodge with mem­bers of the Union of Cam­pus Jour­nal­ists. You were happy four of them saun­tered in at 7:10 p.m., as against the ap­pointed 7:00 p.m. Use­ful, heart-to-heart and highly in­ter­ac­tive meet­ing be­tween fa­ther and chil­dren. Af­ter all said and done we are here for the stu­dents, in loco par­en­tis. The four boys left at 9:30 p.m.

Thurs­day: You and your wife had to visit your be­reaved friend, who lives just 5 min­utes drive away, at 6:15 a.m. The Fac­ulty of Phar­macy was to hold an Oath-tak­ing/in­duc­tion Cer­e­mony this day. The Dean, who has been your close friend and col­league for decades now, had sent an of­fi­cial in­vi­ta­tion, to be fol­lowed by sev­eral gen­tle re­minders. It was im­por­tant you squeeze in time to be there.

The first ma­jor event of the day com­prised the open­ing cer­e­mony of the new Ul­tra-mod­ern Fac­ulty of Phar­macy e-li­brary at 9:30 a.m. We can­not thank the Alumni/alum­nae of the Fac­ulty of Phar­macy enough for their gen­er­ous sup­port in cash and in kind to­wards the ex­e­cu­tion of this fa­cil­ity which can seat 75 users at a time.

From there to the oath tak­ing cer­e­mony at Tren­chard Hall.

You had to leave half-way into the cer­e­mony to be at an­other event where a new Pri­vate Hos­tel was to be com­mis­sioned. This fa­cil­ity has 328 bed spa­ces. You felt happy that this is a lit­tle way of solv­ing the ac­com­mo­da­tion prob­lems of your stu­dents. You had to chair a meet­ing of the Univer­sity Mi­cro-fi­nance Bank at 3 p.m. The meet­ing had to be brought for­ward in or­der for you to at­tend some other ur­gent event out­side the cam­pus later that evening. Board meet­ing over, you joined the rest of man­age­ment to go to town. You were able to at­tend the burial cer­e­mony of the de­ceased, con­ducted ac­cord­ing to Is­lamic rights at Monatan area of the Ibadan Me­trop­o­lis. Homage paid, and prayers said for the re­pose of the de­ceased, you made your way back to the cam­pus. Re­turned briefly to the of­fice to clear your desk.

Fri­day: You woke up at 2:30 a.m. You checked your email only to find that the for­eign as­ses­sor for one of your pro­fes­so­rial pro­mo­tion can­di­dates had sent in her con­fi­den­tial re­port to you. You were de­lighted about this. You made phone calls to your Di­rec­tor of Spe­cial Du­ties and the Deputy Regis­trar (Es­tab­lish­ments - Aca­demic Staff) that one more As­ses­sor’s Re­port had just come. The di­rec­tor of Spe­cial Du­ties was in­structed to see you first thing in the morn­ing at the Lodge to col­lect a printed copy of the Ex­ter­nal As­ses­sor’s Re­port so that enough pho­to­copies could be made for mem­bers of the Ap­point­ments and Pro­mo­tions Com­mit­tee. This par­tic­u­lar can­di­date had ap­plied for pro­mo­tion with ef­fect from Oc­to­ber 1, 2014. It later tran­spired that he was al­ready get­ting frus­trated with the de­lay with the fi­nal con­clu­sion of his pro­mo­tion (to the grade of Reader).

A col­league was to be buried that same morn­ing. You were un­able to at­tend the Af­ter­noon of Tributes or­gan­ised by the Fac­ulty of Sci­ence, where you hold a tenured po­si­tion. You had to at­tend the Ly­ing-in-state of this your older and ami­able friend and much re­spected col­league at Tren­chard Hall at 8:00 a.m. Pro­gramme lasted just 1 hour 10 min­utes. You re­quested the Deputy Vice-chan­cel­lor (Ad­min­is­tra­tion) to rep­re­sent you at the re­cep­tion for the vis­it­ing team from the Oyo State Of­fice of the Code of Con­duct Bureau. As usual with him, he gladly ac­cepted. You had to re­turn to the Lodge for break­fast, re­al­is­ing that the rest of the day was go­ing to be as hec­tic as ever. So it was not ad­vis­able for a man of your age to go to a meet­ing on an empty stom­ach.

Break­fast over, you had to go for the Spe­cial meet­ing of the Univer­sity Ap­point­ments and Pro­mo­tions Com­mit­tee for Aca­demic Staff. You have had to call two meet­ings of this same Com­mit­tee dur­ing the na­tion­wide strike by the three Non-aca­demic Staff Unions on De­cem­ber 21, 2017 and Fe­bru­ary 2018, re­spec­tively. Those meet­ings were held under less aus­pi­cious con­di­tions, and you were nearly phys­i­cally as­saulted by the mob at the De­cem­ber 2017 meet­ing. Just a di­gres­sion here. You are a lover of met­rics since ac­cord­ing to a sound man­age­ment prin­ci­ple ‘If you can­not mea­sure it, you can­not man­age it’. One of the is­sues you had thought of care­fully as a can­di­date for ViceChan­cel­lor of your alma mata was to re­duce the lag time in pro­cess­ing pro­mo­tion cases, es­pe­cially for the Pro­fes­so­rial grades which re­quire that for each can­di­date there must be two as­ses­sors from Nige­ria and one from out­side the shores of the coun­try.

You are ever de­ter­mined to con­vene reg­u­lar meet­ings of the con­cerned com­mit­tee to con­sider cases of staff pro­mo­tion for all de­serv­ing mem­bers of staff. It does no one any credit to de­lay the pro­mo­tion of col­leagues. Time was tick­ing. At 9:50 a.m. you had to leave the Lodge for your meet­ing. Meet­ing com­menced promptly with an open­ing prayer. You con­sid­ered some prima fa­cie pro­mo­tion cases as well as ap­pli­ca­tion for Study/sab­bat­i­cal Leave and one case of Leave of Ab­sence for your im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor in of­fice who is cur­rently a Min­is­ter of the Fed­eral Repub­lic. You ad­journed at 1:20 p.m. for mem­bers who had to go for their Fri­day prayers. You re­con­vened at 2:10 p.m. to con­sider the com­pleted Part II Pro­mo­tion cases to the grade of Reader and Pro­fes­sor. •Saanuwrote­fromibadan.

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