Monday, October 3, 2022 was a day to relive the rich and illustrious history of the University of Lagos.
On that day, exactly 60 years ago, academic activities commenced at the newly established tertiary institution – the first by the Federal Government of post-independent Nigeria – with 28 students at the Medical School, Idi-Araba. It was a moment to cherish, and many friends of the University were on ground to celebrate it.
Leading the congregation of celebrants was the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Distinguished Senator (Dr) Prince Lanre Tejuoso.
In his opening remarks, the Pro-Chancellor reminisced on his early days at the University of Lagos, tracing his relationship with the UNILAG education franchise back to 55 years ago, when he became a pupil of the University of Lagos Staff School.
He said: “How providential it is that I am Pro-Chancellor at a time like this. In fact, on my way to this venue, I was day dreaming. I was trying to look for my class, because this (Idi-Araba campus) was my main location as a student.”
The Pro-Chancellor congratulated the university for how far it has covered in human capital development and the competitive global reputation it has built. He recalled the labours of the founding fathers of the institution and generations of leaders, faculty, staff and students who have all ensured that the University of Lagos continues to cement its place as the Nation’s Pride.
“We must give kudos to our founding fathers, and the generations that have passed through the walls of this great citadel of learning for the commendable efforts they all made to ensure that UNILAG remains the University of First Choice and the Nation’s Pride. It is up to us not to relent and to keep the flag flying so that, in the next forty years, we will have a truly global institution that we can all be proud of”, he said.
In rounding off, the Pro-Chancellor gave a hint as to how soon the university community can expect to know the next and 13th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
“By Friday, the Council will announce the next Vice-Chancellor by the grace of God”, he declared.
A University of the Future
In his Address, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS, corroborated the closing statement of the Pro-Chancellor, affirming that “my tenure as the representative of God here at the University of Lagos ends next month”.
He expressed his gratitude to God for the privilege to serve in his current capacity and for the grace given to outlive the storm that threatened to derail his tenure of office.
In his words, “The University of Lagos has come a long way, but this is just the beginning. We are currently among the best ten universities in Africa; and among the first 1,000 universities in the world, we rank in the 501-600 category. We must not rest on our oars. We must now strive to become a University of the Future.”
“Very soon, we are going to have universities without borders. I urge the incoming Vice-Chancellor to look in the direction of Hi-tech software and gadgets that will put UNILAG at the centre of innovative education.”
He lauded the many impressive feats of staff and students of the University, and urged everyone connected to the UNILAG brand to keep pushing the envelope.
“Our staff, academic and non-academic are winning research grants and that excites me a lot. Till date, a total of N19 billion have been attracted to the university in terms of research grants.”
“Our students are also doing well in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation. If you get to see the novel ideas that they are coming up with, geared towards commercialisation, you will be proud to associate with this great institution. So far, we have registered 64 companies for our student entrepreneurs with the Corporate Affairs Commission, and our objective is to register at least 2,000 of such”, the Vice-Chancellor enthused.
He commended Friends of the University and Alumni for their constant support, and particularly mentioned the Faculty of Engineering Alumni for their outstanding contributions to the university.
Personification of History
A highlight of the event was the appearance of two elderly Professors who were part of the Pioneer and Third graduating sets of the university. Professor Olakunle Iyanda of the pioneer set (1962-1965), was a former Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, while Professor Olaide Abbas was of the third set (1964 –1967) and went on to serve the University of Lagos as Dean of the Faculty of Science. Both of them went down memory lane and shared with the audience what it was like to be an Akokite way back in the 1960s.
As an interesting piece of history, the Vice-Chancellor revealed that Professor Olaide Abbas was the Dean who employed him into the Department of Botany in 1990.
It was a glorious sight to behold as both retired Professors reminisced on their time as undergraduates of UNILAG, recounted the good old days when they had it good as students, and expressed their hopes of a better future for the university. At the event, they were a personification of the illustrious history of the University of Lagos.
All the members of Management and some members of the Governing Council were present at the event, and so were staff, students, and alumni of the University.
The event is a continuation of the year-long celebration that has been planned for the Diamond Jubilee of the University of Lagos.