By Charles Akinbode
As the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Osun State marks 60th anniversary if its establishment, the institution paraded a myraid of achievements.
Addressing a world press conference at the university campus on Tuesday, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, said that officially inaugurating the university on June 8, 1961, the visionary founders set out to establish an academic institution that would be unique in several ways.
He said the institution commenced classes on October 1962 as the University of Ife but was renamed on May 12, 1987 in honour of Chief Obafemi Awolowo University, who lived from 1909 to 1987.
Ogunbodede flanked by the Pro Chancellor of the university, Owelle Oscar Udoji, and the Registrar, Mrs. Margret Omosule, at the press conference, said that founders dreamt of a university of “highest standard and world-wide repute in the Western Region of Nigeria.
According to him, the univesity vhas achieved rapid growth and development, particularly in the areas of academic programme, research, infrastructural development and human resources development.
The vice Chancellor said: “The university, which started with 244 students, 64 academic members of staff and 15 senior administrative and technical staff in five faculties, now has over 25,000 students and more than 4,000 members of staff.
“It now has two Colleges (College of Health Sciences and the Post Graduate College) and 13 faculties – Administration, Agriculture, Arts, Education, Environmental, Design and Management, Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Dentistry, Law, Pharmacy, Science, Social Sciences and Technology.
“All the 94 academic programmes in the university are currently accredited by the National University Commission (NUC), making OAU one of the few universities with 100 percent accreditation of programmes.
“In recent years, five newly developed undergraduate programmes have successfully passed the stages of Resource Verification and Accreditation by the NUC.”
He also said that OAU has made significant advances in research, resulting in nationally and globally-significant success stories, noting that the university has produced among its staff, a Nobel Laureate and six Nigerian National Merit Award winners.
He said Nigeria’s only Nobel prize-winner (in Literature) and the first African laureate, Wole Soyinka, a Professor of Comparative Literature, is currently Emeritus Professor of Dramatic Arts at OAU.
He disclosed that OAU, between 2010 and 2020, the university had attracted external grants in four categories, which he listed as Dollar – 20 grants amounting to $12,583,291.54; Pound – 13 grants amounting to £383,381.05; Euro – 7 grants amounting to €576,515,48 and Naira – 18 grants amounting to N815,526,741.00.
Tracing the history of the institution, the VC said the University of Ife took off from the defunct Nigerian College of Science and Technology, Ibadan and and later moved to its permanent site in Ile-Ife, Osun State in 1967.
He said: “Fired by the nationalist spirit of the age and the fervour deriving from newly won political independence, they conceived of a university that would not be a mere colonial ivory tower but rather a true African university, both in form and substance.
“The university would not merely ape older African universities, it would rather seek to rectify their perceived limitations and deficencies. The university was anchored on the concept of “Three As”; Academics, Aesthetics and Agriculture.
“The university started the first Faculty of Pharmacy in West Africa, the first Department of Chemical Engineering, the first Technology Production and Development Unit and the first campus with intranet/internet facility in the country.”
However, he listed among challenges facing the university, “gross inadequate” government subvention.
“In spite of our modest achievements, funding has been a major challenge to the university as government subvention has been grossly inadequate for running the university. Research is sustained essentially through foreign grants, which has helped in advancing the research culture of the university,” he said.
The VC thanked the alumni and friends of the univesity for assistance and support for various projects and programmes.