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Speech Delivered by Rev. Prof Emmanuel K. Larbi at Investiture Ceremony


 

 

Chairman and Members of the Governing Council of Regent University College of Science and Technology;

Members of the Board of Trustees of Regent University College of Science and Technology;

Representative from the Ministry of Education;

Representative from the National Council for Tertiary Education;

The President of Trinity Theological Seminary (Rev. Prof. Joseph Obiri Yeboah Mante);

Vice Chancellor of KNUST (represented by Prof. Abraham Yeboah Mensah);

Vice Chancellor of UEW (represented by Prof Kwame Kankam);

Secretary General of the Association of African Universities (Dr. Violet Makuku);

Heads of Sister Private Universities here present;

Representative from the Council of Independent Universities;

Heads of Technical Universities here present;

The Clergy,

Nananom, Nii m3, k3 Naa m3;

Members of Convocation

Staff and Students

Distinguished Invited Guests (including the Inspector General of Police)

Friends and Benefactors of Regent

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

 Today’s event marks yet another milestone in the development of this institution, an institution that holds much promise for our nation and our continent.  We sincerely thank all of you for joining us.

God told Jeremiah:  “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5, NIVUK).

That is destiny!

 

Some are born as pioneers to break new grounds for others to realise their God-given potential.  Others are born to realise their God-given potential by operating faithfully from the platforms created by others.

Whatever be our calling in life, whether as trailblazers whose acts and deeds become platforms or launching pads for others, or second generation leaders or followers, we are all asked to be faithful.  For it is in faithfulness that we find our purpose and realise our God-given potential. 

When we are all faithful in our respective areas of calling, working not to please ourselves, nor for self-aggrandizement, we bring development into our various communities and our country.  We improve the quality of life of the people for whom we create opportunities, we bring meaning and purpose to those we create opportunities for to develop.

 

 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

I thank God for the grace given to me to be one of the two key architects in pioneering the establishment of private tertiary universities in Ghana.  After playing the pioneering role in the establishment of Central University College between 1996 and 1998, and subsequently functioning as its founding President from 1998 to 2003, providence led to the establishment of Regent University College of Science and Technology as Ghana’s premier private Science and Technology University College.

Though our major challenge has been limited resources, the good Lord has enabled us to make some major strides at the tertiary education front in Ghana.  We have done our best to live up to our calling.  Our bold initiatives have led to the establishment of the first ever postgraduate studies programme in Computer Science in Ghana.  We are also credited for mounting the first ever MBA with international AMBA accreditation in Ghana.  In January 2011, webometrics online global ranking system ranked Regent as the third top university in Ghana. It was two years or so after Regent had recognized the achievements of Africa’s foremost space engineer and scientist, and had honoured him with the award of Fellow of Regent-Ghana, that KNUST, invited him for a similar recognition.

After operating from various satellite campuses, most of which were rented properties, the good Lord finally led us to this prime area in town.  For some of us there, it has always been ‘The sky is the limit’!

 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have single-mindedly, not been perturbed by limited resources, pursued the vision of building this institution as a centre of excellence where highly skillful, visionary, God-fearing, ethical and passionate leaders, and critical thinkers are raised to function as change agents or transformational leaders.

We have placed emphasis on ethically oriented, holistic education that enriches the mind, spirit and body. We have tried to produce students who will have a competitive edge and global relevance.  For us, our dictum has always been that education must be related to the needs of society. And that good education must make people socially and spiritually active.  We have therefore endeavoured to ensure that field work, community chapel service, and empowerment meetings are all made a critical part of the training of our students and building of the Regent Community.  We have tried to be guided by our core values of Innovation, Discipline, Excellence, Appreciation, and Speed.  We believe any member of our community who diligently and sincerely commits himself or herself to what we offer here, will be a changed person, positioned to function as an agent of positive change or function as a transformational leader.

 

 

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour” (1 Cor. 3:6-8, NIVUK).

We are bringing in a new President or Vice Chancellor at a time when the University has set for itself certain goals:

  1. To become a chartered institution in 2017;
  2. To become a world class University by 2020;

These two goals will require:

  1. Solid funding (regular inflow of funds from tuition fees, grants, endowments, projects);
  2. Good infrastructure (adequate class rooms, lecture theatres, offices, well-equipped laboratories for research, learning, and teaching);
  3. Significant number of local and international faculty.  Faculty members with quality research output, faculty members who are authorities in their own areas of  expertise; faculty members who are able to attract project funding;
  4. We should also be able to attract a growing number of international and local students.

 

Our immediate institutional growth goals

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: We are determined to increase student enrolment at all cost. 

  1. To at least regain our previous peak of 2200 students by the end of 2017;
  2. Reach 3000 by the end of 2018.  This includes those who will  register for our online courses);
  3. To reach 5000 students by 2020.  This also include online courses. 

 

We are also determined to work towards cost reduction by all necessary means. Our current wage bill hovers between GHS 350,000 and GHS 400,000 per month.  This cannot be sustained unless the university is able to increase its enrolment numbers and also diversify its sources of funding.  At the cost reduction front, I must also indicate that the amount of money spent on electricity bills and fuel is prohibitive.  We have made a strong determination to reduce cost by all means.    We are consistently working towards cost reduction.  We are determined to be more combative and innovative towards this end.  We have taken it upon ourselves to reach the goals set for ourselves, we have made it abundantly clear at a recent staff workshop that we will need the involvement of all stakeholders.

  1. Management and Staff
  2. Board members
  3. Schools, faculties, and Departments
  4. Students and
  5. Alumni.

The Goal of Cost Reduction

  1. The need for down-sizing
  2. The need to use energy carefully
  3. The need to function more efficiently.

 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Brian Tracy, a leadership development and institutional re-engineering guru, writing about the general business environment today, has observed:

We are living in the most challenging times for business and economics that we have experience in our lifetimes.  Only the fit will survive.  The race is on, and you are in it.  If you are not committed to winning, to conquering against all odds, you will be brushed aside and passed over by people and companies more determined than you are. (How Best Leaders Lead, pg. 3).

 

The observations of Brian Tracy, is equally applicable to the tertiary education front today.  The tertiary education front in Ghana today has become more deadly.

  1. Several private and public universities have come into existence within the past five years;
  2. Competition for students;
  3. Duplication of programmes;
  4. Undercutting by the public universities in terms of programme packaging, and employment package;
  5. Oppressive demands from the public universities.   

The public universities in Ghana today have now worked out a strategy to absorb all qualified prospective students for both their regular and non-regular programmes.  Copying from the private universities, they have added evening, weekend streams, and top-ups to their distance programmes.  They are also now organizing pre-tertiary programmes.  They are determined to ensure they leave nothing for the private universities to draw from.

Because of all these changes, one of the private universities that used to enroll about 4000 students per year, two years ago, this reduced to about two thousand, further dropped to about 1500 students last year. I am told some got less than a hundred students. Still some got less than fifty students!

 

 

The emergence of campuses of some foreign universities in this country and the conversion of the polytechnics into technical universities muddy up the scene for the private universities.   The race may not be fair, but at the moment that is how it is, and there is no indication that there is going to be a change anytime soon.

From the foregoing we can predict as follows:

  • There will be more challenges in the tertiary university environment in the upcoming years than ever before;
  • There will be more competition in the years ahead than ever before;
  • Individual institutions that do not adapt quickly to the inevitable and the unavoidable will be out of business or forced to do other things.
  • Some institutions will continue to exist marginally especially those supported by faith-based bodies but their influence will be insignificant or at best marginal.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is said that in every challenge there is an opportunity.  We can therefore say without an iota of doubt that bright future still awaits the private universities.  A bright future awaits the institutions that are able to take the following measures:

  1. Those that are able to diversify their sources of funding and move away from using tuition fees for infrastructural development;
  2. Institutions that are able to merge with other institutions for capacity building cost reduction, higher efficiency, and effectiveness.
  3. Institutions that are able to develop as authentic institutions by building a strong reputation because of their credibility and accomplishment.

This must be the private university of the future.  And this is what the private universities who want to make any meaningful impact must aim at.

There is no reason why private universities in Ghana should not aim at developing to become huge and reputable institutions in Ghana where anyone who needs quality education should turn to them as a first choice decision.  This is possible because this has been achieved in other countries.  For example, in the Philippines about 80 percent of tertiary education is provided by the private sector.  Again in Cyprus (in the city of Nicosia), a city referred to as “A city of Universities,” is proud to have Near East University, a private university with around 29000 students from 109 countries. It can boast of the sixth most powerful Super Computer in the world with the capacity of 17 trillion operations per second, supporting advanced research studies around the world.

 

I am told at a point in time when the government needed money to pay the salaries of public servants, it turned to the Near East University!

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: This what we must aim at! So there is always light at the end of the tunnel.  Our new President who has served with us as the Chairman of the Governing Council, has a lot of inspiration to draw from.  Here we are a people of confidence. We never say die! Because we believe the good Lord is able to make the dry bones live again.

I want to sincerely thank members of the Regent University Council, past and present, the entire membership of the Regent University community for their support. Thank you for helping make Regent what it is today.  I also want to thank my family for their support.

REGENT is committed and determined to win and conquer against all odds.  It must be more of days and nights of hard work, prayer, determination, sacrifice, perseverance and courage. BUT VICTORY IS SURE. GOD IS ON OUR SIDE. THE BEST IS YET TO COME. AND IT WILL COME!!!

Thank you very much. God bless us all. God bless our nation Ghana. Ghana bless Africa. Yes, the dry bones can live again.