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Opinions of Sunday, 21 August 2016

Columnist: Razak El-Alawa

Prof. Aryeetey takes a bow ….. in grace!

Prof. Ernest Aryeetey Prof. Ernest Aryeetey

At the send-off dinner for Prof. Ernest Aryeetey on Friday July 29, 2016 at the Great Hall of the university, climaxing the farewell programme for the former Vice Chancellor, the immediate past Chairman of the Council of the university, Justice Prof. S. K. Date-Bah, remarked, appropriately that the University of Ghana had been lucky to have a succession of excellent vice chancellors.
He said they had all contributed in their own particular ways to the advancement of “this great institution” and to the progress of education in Ghana.

Justice Date-Bah also told the selected few who gathered at the dinner how during the inauguration of the Legon Hall, the premier hall of the university, in 1953, the founding principal of the University College of the Gold Coast, the famous David Balme, felicitously expressed his vision for the university that his successors have all endeavoured to implement.

“This university must be part of the country’s growth, growing with it, responding to its needs, reflecting the development of its genius”

Then in 2010, it was the turn of Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, as the 12th vice chancellor, to implement this vision.

And to quote the former chairman of Council of Legon, again and certainly not for the last time,

“And implement it he has with aplomb. Prof. Aryeetey has been an outstanding vice chancellor. His performance has been stellar, in my humble view. The excellence of his output can be observed in several aspects of the university’s life”.

These few words in the speech of the former Supreme Court Judge at the send-off dinner probably encapsulates the tenure of Prof. Aryeetey as vice chancellor of the University of Ghana. Indeed, he came, he saw and he conquered.

As I watched the whole ceremony that day, from the unveiling of the bust of Prof. Aryeetey at the vice chancellor’s court to the pre-dinner drinks at the A. A. Kwapong Quadrangle and finally to the dinner itself at the Great Hall of the university, my mind went back to August 2, 2010 when Prof. Aryeetey was inducted into office.

His vision

That day,a confident looking Prof. Aryeetey spelt out his vision for the University of Ghana, which he hoped, with the support of his management team and other stakeholders, to turn into a world class university by the end of his tenure.

He told a filled to capacity Great Hall audience that he had seven things up his sleeves which he would like to pursue to realise his dream of a world class university at Legon. These were:

1. Promoting academic excellence through enhanced teaching and learning and leadership training.

2. Promoting academic excellence through significantly expended and relevant research and extension

3. Overhaul of governance managements in administration, teaching and research

4. Better management of university assets and facilities.

5. Scale-up efforts towards equal opportunity in gender and diversity

6. Enhanced fundraising activities at unit and central administration levels

7. Main stream and enforce structures and processes for monitoring and evaluation.

Prof. Aryeetey also said he believed strongly in the need to set high standards for both faculty and students.

Now that his tenure has so soon come to an end, how can we assess him? Was he able to deliver as he wished? Was he able to translate his dream and vision of putting the university at the top of the ladder?


Again, I would like to turn to Justice Prof. Date-Bah when he said that during his six years in charge of the university, the former vice chancellor was able to achieve outstanding milestones in translating his vision into reality, which should make both the university and himself proud.

“For instance, expanded research in the university has been a hallmark of Prof. Aryeetey’s administration. The university is in the process of being transformed into a research university which will ultimately produce as many post graduate degree holders as first degree holders.

Furthermore, with the backing of council, he has secured the President’s approval for this radical vision for the university. Under his tenure, there has been a steady increase in post-graduate student numbers. There has also been a programme to assist senior members without terminal research degrees to obtain them. This expanded research ambition of the university is embedded in the University of Ghana’s Strategic Plan.”

According to Justice Prof. Date-Bah, the most radical transformation of the university’s governance arrangements since its establishment took place under Prof. Aryeetey’s watch and this is the introduction of the collegiate structure of government and the decentralisation of the university’s administration, which certainly will be one of his major legacies.

“Also prominent and visible is the expansion in the infrastructure of the university. In this connection, the African Integra and Legon City Projects are worthy of mention… Already, the asphalt roads give the impression of progress and purpose in the university. Both the refurbished roads and the new academic and residential facilities are integral parts of Prof. Aryeetey’s better management of the university’s assets and facilities highlighted in his induction speech six years ago.”

Justice Date-Bah concluded on this note; “On behalf of the council and I am sure, the whole Legon Community, and indeed the whole nation, I wish to express my gratitude to you, Prof. Aryeetey, for your outstanding stewardship and to wish you well in your life after the vice chancellorship. I am sure you will continue to excel”.

At the same ceremony, the Council of the University of Ghana Alumni Association was fully represented to show appreciation to Prof. Aryeetey for a job well done. In a citation, one of several by different groups, the Chairman of the Aluimni Association, Paa Kwesi Yankey, said “we salute you as an outstanding member of whom we are all proud.

We cannot afford to applaud you in a valedictory because your career and stewardship reflect the achievements of a personality and an intellect spread over the activities of the ALUMNI ASSOCIATION …..

“In recognition of your humanism, we the ALUMNI OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GHANA offer you a modest token of respect and affection. May you remain forever worked in the hearts and minds of us all, from generation and to generation.”

Speaking about what he has been able to achieve for the university, Prof. Aryeetey told one of the congregations last month that:

“The university has pushed steadily towards significant improvements in teaching and learning, with a major concentration on quality assurance and the provision of new equipment. These efforts have been rewarded with significant improvement in the performance of students and faculty.

“In the most recent Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, the University of Ghana ranked 7th in Africa, making us the highest ranked university in the West African sub-region.

It was because of the qualities Prof. Aryeetey exhibited and his achievements that his friends, friends of the university, his year group at Achimota and Presec and management of the university were invited to give him a befitting send off in addition to the unveiling of his bust.

Among those present were the eighth Vice Chancellor, Prof. George Benneh whom we were told initiated the erection of busts for all the past heads of the university and Mrs Georgina Theodora Woode, the Chief Justice, who was the Chairperson of the Select Committee that chose Prof. Aryeetey in 2010.

Ayekoo, Prof. Aryeetey.