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Opinions of Sunday, 24 February 2013

Columnist: Sam, Leo R.

Is it an obligation for Alumni and Alumnae to support their Alma Mater ?

My Answer: Yes. What is your answer?

By Leo R. Sam

The University College of the Gold Coast ( now the University of Ghana, Legon ) was established in 1948. Almost all the students, who graduated in the fifties and sixties did not pay even one pesewa (one cent ) in TUITION FEES. They all received top-level world class university education with highly recognized degrees and diplomas.

Many of the students, who were civil servants and teachers received their full salaries while they were students at the University.

In the 1950's and 1960's, the Halls of Residences ( Legon, Akuafo and Commonwealth ) were run just as North American four star hotels. How much did the students pay for this service ? NOT A PESEWA ( CENT ). Each student had one fully furnished room and a balcony (Verandah ). The rooms were swept and dusted daily by workers while the students were at lectures. Three square meals ( Breakfast, Lunch and Supper ) were provided.

The beautiful gardens in and around the halls were very well cared for. Numerous fountains were functional all over the place. The Area in front of the Balme Library and the book shop looked very similar to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Some of the young and brilliant Professors around included:

Adjei Bekoe, Quartey, Anfom ( Chemistry Department

Rev. Fr. J. R. Koster S.V.D. ( Physics Department ). He was also the Chaplain of the Catholic Community;

Kwapong ( Classics Department ) ; Boateng ( Geography Dept.);

Laing ( Botany-Genetics ); Adu-Boahen ( History ); Acquaye (Dept. of Education ) Abraham ( Philosophy ).

Some of the students, who later became prominent public figures were:

George Benneh ( became Vice Chancellor )

Paul A. V. Ansah ( Professor in the French Department. Director of the School of

Communication )

Victor Gbeho ( Foreign Minister )

Awornor Williams ( Author )

Martin Agyeman Odei ( Research Scientist - River Blindness Specialist )

J. D. Amponsah ( Plant-Breeding Specialist at Cocoa Research Institute, Tafo )

Abankwa ( High Commissioner to Canada )

Debra ( Ambassador to the U. S. )

Kweku Ocran ( Statistician )

Kodwo Arthur, Moses Agyeman, Afful, Nipa, Aglonu, Danso ( Diplomats )

Kutin-Sanwu, Nortey ( Lecturers in K.N.U.S.T. )

Col. Bernasko, Major Asante (Ghana Army )

Chrisine Amoako-Nuamah ( Outstanding zoology teacher; Minister ),

Margaret Tawiah ( Education Officer )

Seddoh ( Principal of St. Augustine's College )

Money ( Principal of Mfantsipim School )

Osae ( Principal of Prempeh College )

J. E. Musey ( Outstanding Economics Teacher in Opoku Ware School )

Mintah ( Outstanding Chemistry Teacher in Prempeh College )

Dziwornoo ( Physics Lecturer in K.N.U.S.T. )

Ms. Antoh ( Principal of Holy Child School)

Adu Amankwa ( Principal of Opoku Ware School; Ambassador to Mexico )

Eyeson ( Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Science in the University of Cape Coast )

Anteson ( Professor of Physiology in Legon Medical School )

The above are just a few names that come to mind.

In the early years, the lecture halls and laboratories were situated in Achimota. Comfortable tourist type of buses were used to convey students from Legon to Achimota. Hourly bus services to and from Achimota were available for the convenience of the students. Many of the science students, who could not come back to Legon in the afternoon due to long continuous laboratory periods, were given sumptuous packed lunches to take to Achimota. What did the students pay for all these services? NOTHING.

Every Sunday evening, formal dinners were served in the dining halls. Students were expected to be properly dressed; in ties and Academic Gowns. Professors and Lecturers were also expected to be in their academic gowns ( without hoods). The professors entered the dining room in a procession to go to the High Table. All students had to stand up as the procession to the high table commenced. Usually foreign dignitaries visiting Ghana accompanied the Professors to the High Table. One dignitary that came to this formal dinner in 1959 was Sir Arthur Lewis, the famous economist and Nobel Laureate.

One of the Post-Graduate Students would say the Prayer Before Meals in Latin. Everyone would then sit down and the well-dressed stewards would serve the first course.

After graduation, most of the candidates were appointed to senior government jobs. Brand new cars and fully furnished bungalows were some of the perks attached to the jobs.

In a public lecture in Legon, Professor Arthur Lewis pointed out that Legon students were too pampered by the government. This was obviously TRUE but the students strongly objected to the comment.

The main purpose of this article is that:


I have searched the website of the University of Ghana for information about how the University Administration is getting Alumnae and Alumni to donate to Legon. I could not find anything. I am suggesting that the administration must develop a systematic and highly PUBLICISED way of encouraging Alumni and Alumnae to support their Alma Mater.

By this article I am challenging ALL graduates of Legon (especially those who graduated in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's ) to donate $1000 ( One Thousand U.S. dollars approximately 750 Euro or 492,000 FRANC or 6290 CHINESE YUAN or 665 British Pounds or any equivalent currency ) to a TRUST FUND to support the

" BALME LIBRARY ", the heart of the University. 'Legonites' are spread all over the globe.

If one cannot give $1000 at a stretch, it would be O. K. to pledge to donate at least $100 every six months. Thus in five years one will qualify as a Level 1 Supporter. For all what Legon has done for you, excuses will NOT be acceptable.

Those who donate $1000 should be classified as LEVEL 1 Supporters

Those who donate $2000 should be classified as LEVEL 2 Supporters,

Those who donate $5000 should be classified as LEVEL 5 Supporters etc.

It may be a good idea to INVEST any amount raised through this program. Only the interest on the fund should be used to provide materials for Balme Library. This Fund must not be added to the General Revenue of the University. It should be managed separately and probably be known as:


The names of all supporters should be inscribed on a DONATION PLAQUE in the Balme Library Lobby.

The CHILDREN or other relatives of DECEASED Alumni and Alumnae can donate to the fund in memory of their loved ones. This should be acknowledged on the Plaque. Most probably, relatives benefited directly or indirectly from the education the deceased person received in FAMOUS LEGON.

Those who have never been to Legon but wish to donate should be granted honorary status as Legonites. Businesses and other Corporations can be approached to contribute to this worthwhile cause.

Legonites, who graduated in the 1980's and the 1990's obviously did not enjoy the same ROSY CONDITIONS as their counterparts in the previous decades. Legonites, who are students in the University RIGHT NOW are paying heavy tuition fees and residence fees just as their counterparts in developed countries.

However, it is important to cultivate the habit of supporting our Alma Mater.

It is important for Legon to get actively involved in the fund raising mode. Let us not sorely depend on the Government for resources.

If 80% of all Legonites contribute as LEVEL 1 Supporters, can you imagine what a GREAT FUND that would be ?

All supporters should receive an official newsletter about the value of the fund and what the interest is being used for. In other words there should be transparent accountability.

If this project is EFFECTIVELY PUBLICISED on the internet, the administration will get the current e-mail addresses of all truly loyal Alumnae and Alumni.

If Legon does not already have a model for encouraging donations, then it may be a good idea to study the model used by Howard University in Washington D.C.

Howard has what is referred to as the Capstone Societies. Donors are placed into categories according to the amount of the donation:

1. The Founder's Society ( $100,000 or more )

2. The Trustees' Circle ( $50,000 - $99,999 )

3. The President's Circle ( $10,000 - $49,999 )

4. The Dean's Club ( $5.000 - $9,999 )

5. Howard Club ( $1,000 - $4,999 )

6. The Blue and White Club ( $500 - $999 )

7. The Associates Club ( $250 - $400 )

8. The Century Club ($100 - $249 )

The whole donation system is set up to allow donors to donate ON-LINE.

I am NOT sure to whom I should direct a copy of this article for SERIOUS consideration and possibly help in the implementation of my suggestion. I will make it a point to send a copy to the VICE CHANCELLOR However, I do NOT know if that is the correct procedure administratively..

If you happen to be in a position to help implement this project or you are aware of the appropriate official in Legon to implement this project, please send me the e-mail address of the official and I will contact the person.

Let us ALL come forward to support our Alma Mater, LEGON.

As far as getting Alumnae and Alumni to make donations, Howard University has got excellent techniques. Go to Click on GIVING TO HOWARD.

This famous University, which is sometimes referred to as "THE BLACK HARVARD" or " THE MECCA OF BLACK EDUCATION " has managed to get our own Kofi Anan, Hillary Clinton, Senator Obama ( Now President Obama ) and Oprah Winfrey to be Commencement Orators. There are a few Ghanaian Professors in Howard.

The highly respected Professor Paul A.V. Ansah, who is remembered as a SCHOLAR, a CHRISTIAN and a GENTLEMAN was a visiting Professor in Howard during the 1979-1980 academic year. A former President of Howard, Patrick Swygert, was a visiting Professor in the faculty of Law in Legon during the 1975 - 1976 academic year.

Howard University has a respectable ENDOWMENT FUND. Sometimes I wonder how much Legon has as an Endowment Fund. All these facts should be available on Legon's Website.


Edmonton, Alberta


(Legon Graduate June 1960 )