According to Claudio Fernadez Araoz, Author of “It is not the ‘How’ or the ‘What’, but the Who”, “One of the hallmarks of great leadership is change leadership. An ability to drive change through people, transforming and aligning an organization around a new goal”
Perhaps, when Professor E. Uche Ikonne took over the mantle of leadership in December, 2015 as the 7th Substantive Vice-Chancellor of Abia State University Uturu, with his “Our Story Must Change Mantra”, some Cynics may have wondered how he will do this. As he detailed and explained the areas of change, which his administration was going to bring to bear, those who knew his antecedents, and pedigree, began to say, “Truly, a Daniel has come to judgment”.
Midway into the tenure of his administration, Professor Ikonne has recorded several landmark achievements in almost all areas of the University’s main mandate, – Teaching, Research and Community Service, with transparent accountability, as encapsulated in his vision.
– The Introduction of E-Administration, E-Admission and E-Senate,
– Improving the Academic content of the University with the introduction of new Academic Programmes.
– Secured full Accreditation Status for most of the Academic programmes, including Law, Medicine and Medical Laboratory, among others.
– Secured increase in admission quota per session by JAMB for most of the Academic programmes.
– Improved Academic discipline, and ensured that programmes run their full course without interruption.
– Tackled the issue of insecurity headlong through the Senate Committee on Security, that now Students are no longer afraid to go about their academic activities.
– Ensure prompt payment of Staff salaries as at when due, as well as other Staff welfare matters.
– Improved the ranking of the University from 93rd when he assumed office to its current 30th position among Nigerian Universities.
– Expanded and improved the infrastructure of the University including commissioning New Hostels, New Faculty buildings etc
– Maintained good cordial relationship with the host Community, and other Stakeholders of the University
The list is endless, but more importantly, Professor Ikonne rekindled the moribund Inaugural Lecture Series of the University, increasing it from 19th when he took office to the 39th edition, which will be coming up on Wednesday, 20th June 2018, at the University Auditorium.
Professor Ikonne has always maintained that an Inaugural Lecture is an occasion of significance in an Academic staff member’s career at the University, providing them an opportunity to inform Colleagues, the Campus Community and the general Public of their work to date, including current research and future plans. It is also a time when these outstanding Professors are celebrated by their colleagues, the University, their Community, family as well as by friends and well wishers from all walks of life. The University as well uses it as a forum to sell its academic products to the out side world.
While delivering an Inaugural Lecture, a Distinguished Professor of Human letters in the Centre for Rhetoric Studies, University College London (UCL), Philip-Joseph Salazar said, “Even if I don’t praise the University in this Lecture, my giving the Lecture, is in itself a celebration of the Institution, as I apply my very best skills at showing what a Professor from the UCL can do”.
Therefore, the Inaugural Lecture itself provides an opportunity to showcase the work of a University Professor to the outside world. Carolyn Canceglia, Vice President, Strategic sales and Account Management, Amadens, North America says that ‘Great Leaders take the best of the past, build upon it and link it to the future.
Professor E. Uche Ikonne saw the potentials in using Inaugural Lectures to promote research and scholarship in the University, that now; it has become a monthly event.
His administration has put in, both manpower and financial resources to ensure the sustenance of the event every month. Professors who have not delivered theirs are challenged and given the necessary support to do so, working with the Directorate for Research and Publications, set up primarily for this purpose.
The University under Professor E. Uche Ikonne’s Administration takes the responsibility of producing the Inaugural Lecture Series in hard or soft copies, and makes it available to the public, on request. Also the entertainment as well as other financial responsibilities, is borne by the University, and at the end of every Inaugural Lecture, the Lecturer is given some cash incentives as a form of appreciation by the University to help offset some expenses the lecturer incurred in the course of sourcing materials and other logistics. Much more, aside the pre-Inaugural Lecture Publicity in print and electronic media, the Inaugural Lecture series, under the administration of Professor E. Uche Ikonne is streamed live, via the internet, and subsequently carried as news stories in both radio and television. These in addition to other motivational support by the Vice-Chancellor to intending Inaugural Lecturers has created a conducive competitive academic atmosphere to sustain the tradition of monthly Inaugural Lecture Series, which has become a Unique achievement of Professor Ikonne’s administration.
On every Inaugural Lecture, the Lecturer is given the opportunity to showcase his/her contributions to research in specific field of focus. In doing so, there has been a harvest of ideas, discoveries as well as recommendations that will proffer solutions for National development.
Abia State University therefore has come on the International radar every month, as the Lecturers present their discoveries to the outside world. This explains perhaps why the ranking of the University is steadily improving, to 30th position among Nigeria Universities. Again, the Inaugural Lectures also have become a forum to market the various disciplines and courses to the world through proper understanding of their immense benefits.
“Leadership is like exercise, it has to be sustained for it to do any good”, says Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, JP Morgan chase. Therefore, sustenance of this tradition, put in place by the Vice-Chancellor requires support and response, especially by the academic community..
As the University holds her 39th Inaugural Lecture Series, Wednesday, 20th June 2018 to be delivered by Professor Joshua Uzoma Ogbonna, on the topic, “Where and What is Where? Understanding the Centrality of Location in Geospatial Decisions. As we celebrate this Academic tradition reinvigorated by Professor E. Uche Ikonne, let us give credit to our dear Vice Chancellor for truly restoring the pride of Abia State University as the Centre of Excellence, which was the dream of the founding fathers.
Let us also in our own respective ways, join hands with the Vice Chancellor and University Management to sustain this Tradition that has put our dear University once more in global limelight.