January 19, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone (USL), Prof. Ekundayo Thompson, has disclosed that 45 percent of the land belonging to one of the constituent colleges of USL, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), has been encroached upon by some individuals.
He made the above disclosure on Tuesday during an exclusive interview with Concord Times at his office, USL Secretariat on Tower Hill in Freetown.
Prof. Thompson said due to the massive encroachment on the said land, their capacity to expand the infrastructure of the college has been limited, thus asking government to provide them with additional land for future expansion.
He said plans were underway to construct a perimeter wall on the remaining land, so as to prevent further encroachment.
“In terms of research, COMAHS is on top of situation. We are partnering with a number of oversea institutions including Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Kings College, and other research institutions in order to move COMAHS forward,” he said.
He disclosed that during the Ebola outbreak, COMAHS lost lots of faculties and that he recommended to the World Health Organization (WHO) to hire faculties to replace the lost ones.
Responding to claims that the USL has not been introducing courses that were in line with the job market, Prof. Thompson said criticism belongs to the past because of today.
“COMAHS has reviewed their curricula in partnership with oversea universities and research institutions. It has introduced new courses that are in line with modern day job market,” he said.
He also lamented massive encroachment on Fourah Bay College (FBC) land, noting that they were thankful to the USL Chancellor, President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is also an alumnus of FBC, for his intervention.
“There are two activities ongoing on FBC land. We have given the road contractors somewhere to be used temporarily as their works yard until they finish the construction of Leicester road,” he disclosed.
Prof. Thompson said his successor at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), has taken action to secure a 70-acre land at Bureh Town in the Western Area Rural District for the construction of IPAM.
“As a university, we proposed to construct an undergraduate campus. We were in Nigeria recently where we discussed with an estate developer to develop the campus for us. His company will pre-finance the construction with some 30 percent input from us,” he said.
He noted that the newly constructed seven-storey building at IPAM will be meant for post graduate and short courses, consultancies, among other things, adding that it has two floors which would be used for letting out to the public as a means of fund raising.
“Should the undergraduate campus at Bureh Town come to light, then it will provide a situation for students to be in residence to study. That has its own social effect in terms of interaction among the students. Bureh Town will provide students the ideal situation to study,” he said.
When he assumed office in 2013, Prof. Thompson introduced the “Deep Change Agenda” for realising the vision of USL. When asked to put into percentage the success of the Agenda, he said its achievement was about 60 percent.
“You know, reforms have got their own teething problems. Of course you need to mobilize people around your vision, to build a team to move forward. And where you have pockets of resistance, you have to lay them off so as to achieve your goal. In management you work with people. A good manager sets the vision and create the environment for people to deliver and that’s what we are doing at USL,” he said.