A move that will further leapfrog academic culture and reposition the Lagos State University (LASU) for global relevance in terms of quality scholarship and excellence, has been taken by the management of the institution. According to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji- Bello, such a move has become imperative to create an environment that fosters intellectual, social and ethical growth and academic success in the drive to make ivory tower the best university in West Africa, and Africa by extension.
Therefore, to strengthen academic culture towards achieving academic excellence, the university LASU, last week, organised a one-day workshop, tagged: “Workshop on Revamping Academic Culture Towards Achieving Academic Excellence in the University.”
Speakers/facilitators at the workshop, which focused extensively on the core tripod mandate of teaching, research and community service, were former Vice-Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs; former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Emeritus Professor Peter Okebukola; and the former Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Prof. Michael Faborode
. Declaring open the workshop, the Vice-Chancellor, said the workshop for academic staff in the Senior lecturers cadre and above, is to restore academic culture of excellence at the state university. Meanwhile, Emeritus Prof Briggs in his presentation on: “Town and Gown Connect through Robust University Senate in Achieving Academic Excellence,” underscored the role of the University Senate in revamping academic culture to achieve excel particilence in the system.
As a knowledge repository organ of ivory tower, he stated that university senate should not only be socially relevant to the needs of the university in its universal outlook, but also to facilitate the bringing together of town and gown under robust relationship that would meet the needs of the society in terms of research, policies, and other areas of societal expectations.
Briggs, who noted that though Lagos has no adequate universities (public and private) for its huge population, said LASU should strive to produce not only high-level quality manpower for the state, as the relationship between gown and town is a symbiotic one for robust development.
Therefore, he pointed out that universities must be able to impact the community positively by solv ing their problems and making society better for all, saying “That is how LASU could move up on the ladder of greatness.” Also, Okebukola in his presentation, titled: “Effective Teaching as a Panacea for Achieving Academic Excellence,” who spoke on the need for positive and remarkable changes in the lecturers’ teaching, said after the workshop, teaching in LASU should no longer be business as usual.
“It should be a change that will be sustainable,” he noted, saying every lecturer irrespective of cadre must engage his or her students in a manner that they will not only understand the subject matter or discussion, but also live by it for a lifetime.
While reiterating that what differentiates good teacher from bad teacher are how effective they are in class, on the courses and syllabus, relationships with students and co-lecturers, among others, called on the lecturers to do a reflection, reassessment and recalibration after the workshop to know their status and improve on their teaching and classroom personality.
Okebukola, who said that though there are challenges such as students not coming to class and not doing assignments; poor classroom resources; strikes, poor welfare scheme for lecturers; fairly long distance for lecturers to walk/travel from home to campus, and others, he insisted that effective lecturers should rise above challenges for the sake of positive impact on their students and society.
“I want to challenge you (participants) to do a gap analysis; where you are before and you will be after the workshop in terms of delivery of quality teaching or otherwise,” he said, even as the don urged partici
pants to embrace a culture of good practices that would distinguish them irrespective of fields of study and level of office in order to attain excellence at work and in other legitimate endeavours and consequently produce world-class graduates. However, Prof. Faborode, whose presentation was on “Significance of Quality Research in Achieving Academic Excellence,” spoke on the need for the university to carry out cuttingedge research as a means to be a world-class university and produce quality graduates.
The Professor of Agricultural Engineering, who noted that development of a university is not limited to funding, but also favourable governance, said there was the need for huge investments in the knowledge system – research. “Huge investment is needed in higher education and research in tertiary institutions to lift the primary and secondary school levels and the society,” Faborode added, saying university research output should be able to shape policies and meet societal needs.
While calling on the university to prioritise research and innovation, as well as create structures for sustainability of research and patent, he noted that universities are more critical to national development today, than ever before.
The don, who stressed that what could make their research activities worth their salt is when they solve societal problems, however, noted that what differentiates a wealthy nation from a poor country is the type and quality of their research activities.
“Research efforts across fields should not be tailored along getting a promotion at work alone, but to solve societal problems and that this could be done better through collaboration. Though the Nigerian universities are not doing well in this regard, LASU should therefore take the lead,” he added.