Obviously happy to fulfil the conditions for re-opening the university in the context of COVID-19, Veritas University in Abuja, Nigeria is doing so along with retouching the academic hierarchy. The new wave of shuffling around announced by Prof Hyacinth Ichoku, the Vice-Chancellor during the week saw three new deans taking positions, two former Heads of Department taking new responsibilities and a new Dean for the Postgraduate school.
In the new announcement, Prof I. E. S Amdi, a veteran of the academic battles in the glorious days of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, (FASS) at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria becomes the substantive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Apart from his ABU, Zaria experience, Prof Amdi attended the University of Exeter in the UK and has considerable research exposure, globally. He replaces Prof John Sambe who moves to nursing Veritas University’s Department of Mass Communications which is becoming an octopus of a sort in terms of technology it has acquired.
The new Dean of Natural Sciences is Prof Simeon Opute, a former Vice-Chancellor of Kogi State University and a specialist himself in a key branch of Chemistry.
The third of the new deans is Prof Gabriel Egbe who delivered the First Inaugural Lecture in the university last November. Prof Egbe becomes the new Dean of the Postgraduate School whose last Dean, Prof Ejinaka has retired.
Not left out is the Department of English and Literary Studies which has a new Head of Department in Prof Anthony Olaoye. He replaces Dr. Emmanuel Egar who came back from the United States years back. He is now to worry about the content and vigour of the postgraduate degrees offered by the Department.
According to the Vice-Chancellor, three departments – English and Literary Studies, Theology and Political Science – are each starting the new academic session with globally competitive academics, two of them from the United States and one from within but a front rank academic nonetheless, publications and service record with the UN considered.
Veritas University is slightly over a decade and half old private university established by the Catholic establishment in Nigeria. Some of the founding fathers have repeatedly made ambitious statements regarding its future, some saying specifically it would be the Harvard of Nigeria.
A critic of the Nigerian university system recently described Nigerian universities as centres for the reproduction of illiteracy. There is a sense in which Veritas University seems determined to escape from that bracket. It is thus a place to watch!
By being able to quickly migrate to online teaching last April, Veritas has not lost any semester as a result of the pandemic which broke out in China late last year. It is learning from its experience in online teaching in shaping the new academic session, (2020/2021) which began earlier today.