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At D.Litt. maiden lecture, Falola celebrates UI’s prestigious, pioneering efforts in higher education

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Renowned professor of history, Toyin Falola has celebrated the prestigious and pioneering efforts of the University of Ibadan in the provision of qualitative higher education in Nigeria, saying it is noteworthy that the institution’s roles are enviable.

The Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, the University of Texas at Austin, made this known while delivering the maiden edition of the higher doctorate lecture series, organized by the Postgraduate College of the University of Ibadan on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

The event which had in attendance members of the university community, drawn from within and outside Nigeria, and the general public, was led by the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor K.O. Adebowale. It was held at the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan.

In his keynote address, the vice-chancellor, represented by the Provost of the Postgraduate College, Professor Jonathan Babalola, commended the industry and sense of duty of the academic community, just as he celebrated Professor Falola.

“As agents of development and engines of growth, universities are to champion the development of the society. Universities should generate knowledge, transmit knowledge, and share knowledge. These are the mandates of the university. The core quality of a higher doctorate therefore is output of cutting edge researches. This aligns with the mission and vision of the University of Ibadan.

“To produce excellent results, universities should be prioritised. This has not been so in Nigeria, leading to repeated brain drain. Excellence, research, teaching and global visibility gave the University of Ibadan the ranking as the best in Nigeria.

“To date, only six academics were awarded the higher doctorate of the University of Ibadan. While five were from the sciences, Professor Falola became first to get it outside of the sciences. The Postgraduate College made it compulsory that recipients of higher doctorate must receive it in person and give a public lecture in this regard. Our lecturer for today is a global institution as an academic. He is celebrated globally. He received the first D.Litt. by assessment. This is the first in Africa,” he said.

While speaking on the topic titled, ‘The University of Ibadan in the Global Academy,’ Falola told his audience that: “It is possible to discuss the evolution of the University of Ibadan from one period to the next without going into too much detail. All through the years, the university has been a great source of knowledge both at local and global levels of higher education and also as a major catalyst for development in diverse sectors; therefore, it deserves extensive study and inquiry.

“If there is anyone in Nigeria who has not heard the slogan, the First and the Best, then maybe the person has never been interested in tertiary education. For those who are truly interested in higher education, then the glory of the University of Ibadan and the expression of that glory will not escape their attention.  This citadel of learning is the first not only because it was the first established degree-awarding institution in Nigeria but also because it pioneered the postgraduate degree award program.  Even though these things are not entirely irrelevant, the truth is that in different areas of life, we have had many firsts, who, today, have been reduced to ruins or, like the biblical character of Jacob, have sold their birthrights for a plate of porridge. Thankfully, this is not the story of the University of Ibadan.

“I do not stand here to reminisce on the good old days that have been lost because the current days have continued to better those of the past,  and this is where the part of the appellation that says “best” becomes more relevant. By its existence and by practice, the University of Ibadan is first.  On this, the results speak for themselves. It is also the best in terms of the records it has set for more than seven decades of honest toil and outstanding achievements in all fields.  So, when some of us hear the phrase “First and the Best,” we immediately understand that it is a status achieved through dedication and the hard work of everyone who has had contact with this great university.  We understand that this is a well-deserved appellation that must be protected. While the appellation may serve as a good talking point, dwelling too much on it may suggest to onlookers that this institution has not got more than the name it brandishes. And though I am quick to dismiss this, I am also eager to point out the thoroughness of the teaching approach adopted at the University of Ibadan. I dare to say that only a few people can be as thorough bred as a product of the University of Ibadan.”

Speaking further he added that, “For over seventy years, the university has maintained its position as the scholastic stop for academic excellence in Nigeria and across Africa, and to suggest otherwise will be mere rhetoric. The thoroughness of the University of Ibadan is reflected in the calibre of products the institution churns out yearly. If you ask me, the University of Ibadan and its students are an apt example of pure gold that has held well under heat and turned out to be one of the most precious stones in the world. This same applies to the alumni of this prestigious school. For those fortunate to pass through the University of Ibadan, it is obvious that it is by no means an easy task. It takes doggedness, dedication, and discipline, but the result has always been enviable. Hence, it is not surprising when you hear about students of the University of Ibadan making waves everywhere they are, home or abroad.

“Aside from the thoroughness of the teaching, the values that accompany the school are also a major fulcrum on which one can create a talking point. Products of the University of Ibadan are not just well-schooled and thoroughly educated, they have absorbed the whole essence of the value system given to them by the university. This situation is rare and not easy to come by. It is a great treasure to come across a crop of well-educated students who have imbibed esteemed values in their lifestyle, and one of the few places you can find that is at the University of Ibadan. I must praise the University of Ibadan for this. It has never been easy, even at the family level, to effortlessly instil values and good education in children. For the University of Ibadan to do this, it means there is an established structure that has been working over the years and for which the university must be commended.”

He equally called on the university to strive to be more relevant in building its tourism potential. “Given its track record of excellence and its long existence, the university itself is a tourist attraction to anyone who ever visits Ibadan city. In 2010, the World Travel and Tourism Centre anticipated that global tourism would expand at four percent per year over the next ten years, accounting for 9.4 percent of global GDP. No one has to explain that Ibadan has failed to live up to expectations, and considering the city’s rich history and natural endowments, one would expect it to be well-known on the global tourist map. Several tourist attractions in the city have shifted their focus away from growth; whereas tourism growth and the ongoing promotion of tourism centres would attract social and cultural development, as well as provide exposure in the city. The University of Ibadan can help the city’s tourism economy in a number of ways.

 

“For example, existing tourism facilities must be upgraded and outfitted to suit modern standards, as well as adequately promoted. Trenchard Hall, the University of Ibadan Cultural Heritage Museum, could be remodelled, and other cultural artefacts that would pique tourists’interest should be put there. Many additional cultural artefacts and items that have been notable throughout history may be mechanised to provide visitors and others with evidence or physical explanations of the people’s past. There is also a need for the museum to establish a History Hub. The past hub should have historical data, resources, and videos on display and access to Ibadan’s history at all times. The hub would offer a wealth of information for anyone interested in the history of the city and of the Yoruba people.The university’s dam can serve as another tourist attraction centre. The zoo, the botanical garden, the heritage park, and many more beautiful places and scenery in the University of Ibadan can serve as tourist attraction centres only if they are developed up to standards.

“There is a lot to say about the University of Ibadan in the 21st century, and one might not exhaust all the incredible things that there are. Undoubtedly, the 21st century has a lot in stock for any institution or person who is bold enough to key into the potentials. One important thing about this century is the globalisation movement, which particularly involves the exchange of people and ideas all across the world. The goal is to become a global village where experts can contribute to strategies for moving the world forward. In this light, the university cannot afford not to be part of this movement, which it can do through active recruitment from all over Africa. The university already boasts of having the highest number of professors in Africa, placing it in a position that commands respect and presents an enviable catch to people all over the continent.

“Moreover, the institution has a track record of excellence and has consistently maintained the top positions in Africa; thus, it would not be difficult to attract talents into the university’s academic community. This recruitment can even be extended to other continents. The university has already cemented its name on the global stage, so achieving this would not be difficult. One potential benefit of this is the exchange of culture and people, which will boost integration and help foster the world’s globalisation goal. Besides, a new perspective will be introduced into the teaching and learning process, and a more robust curriculum in line with global standards will be put in place,” he said.

The lecture had members of the university community and the public in attendance.

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