I wish to commence my address by congratulating the Chairman of Council, Chief (Engineer) Gesi Asamaowei and other members on their appointment or election into the Governing Council of the University of Port Harcourt. It is my prayer that you have a successful tenure as you superintend over the affairs of this great institution of learning. I also wish to thank Council for extending an invitation to me to be part of this retreat. It is my expectation that the deliberation we will have will be useful and will enrich Council’s ability to carry out the onerous responsibility of overseeing the affairs of the university.
The core purpose for which universities are established is to seek a better understanding of the world so as to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all people. Universities achieve this by engaging in scholarly activities of teaching, learning and research and also by providing a variety of services, all of which expand the frontiers of knowledge and lead to innovation, inventions and discoveries which benefit society and enhance the common good. In carrying out this extensive remit, universities interact with a wide spectrum of diverse entities to which they are expected to be relevant and live in partnership with. Thus, a symbiotic relationship evolves between universities on the one hand and their audiences on the other. Cultivating and exploiting this mutually beneficial relationship for the furtherance of the purposes of the university, constitutes the hub of University Advancement- the commencing point of our address today.
So, I will begin my talk by first elucidating a little bit more on the concept of University Advancement. Next, I will examine the experience of the University of Port Harcourt with the process of University Advancement. Thereafter, I will discuss University of Port Harcourt Foundation and comment on the added advantages it should bring to the institution. In my closing sections, I will make some recommendations for the sustenance and improvement of advancement activities in the university as well as some concluding remarks.
The point was made earlier that University Advancement is the process by which a university takes advantage of the relationship between it and the various entities that it interacts with, to propagate the vision and mission of the institution. This process commonly involves voluntary financial and other forms of support by individuals and organizations to universities and the promotion of their ideals and wellbeing.
As everyone knows, acts of charity to educational institutions by well wishers and philanthropists are neither new nor confined to universities. The primary school that I attended at my hometown of Abonnema was single-handedly built by a philanthropist. But such acts are often spontaneous, uncoordinated. and not usually sustained. In University Advancement, the act of soliciting for charity and support from the university’s publics is properly structured and incorporated into the daily activities of the institution as a strategic, integrated method of managing relationships to increase understanding and support among an educational institution’s key constituents1.
The publics and constituents referred to include alumni and friends, staff and students, governments, the media, members of the community, corporate bodies, industries and philanthropic entities of all types. Of these, the alumni are vital and engaging them in a perpetual relationship with the life of the institution as volunteers, advocates, supporters and financiers, is the key to all successful university advancement programmes.
But there is a proviso – it is universities that are seen in good light by the public, their alumni, industries, organisations, communities and other entities, that do well with the process of soliciting for support. Such institutions include those that are perceived to have been properly set up and are also being managed effectively and efficiently; those whose academic standards are high and their graduates, generally acclaimed to be of good quality. Thus, voluntary support and assistance to universities, which is the principal modality by which university advancement is achieved, is extended mostly to those institutions which are considered to be so deserving by their audiences.
In Nigeria therefore, it is those universities that have been able to establish some track record of quality and consistency, despite the very difficult circumstances in which universities operate in the country, that have Advancement programmes that are doing reasonably well. Those regarded as cult centres where violence and other maladies are the order of the day, with dismal learning environment and whose alumni are even ashamed to be associated in any manner with the institutions, lack the capacity to set up university advancement programmes that would thrive. However, despite all this, a good number of universities in the country are striving to set up advancement offices for many reasons and this confirms that this has become an important way for universities to go.
Globally, leveraging on their advancement programmes, fund-raising drives, including those for endowments in excess of $1 billion are now commonplace among highly rated top tier Ivy League universities in Europe and America, thereby increasing the overall financial worth of such institutions. For instance, it is reported that the University of Oxford has £3.9 billion as endowment (2011), University of Cambridge has £4.3 billion (2011), Harvard $30.435 billion (2012), Yale $19.3 billion (2012) and Stanford $17.036 billion2. On Saturday, September 21, 2013, Harvard University, already the world’s richest university, is said to have launched a financial drive for $6.5 billion to enable it embark on fresh academic initiatives!
Currently, university advancement is no longer seen as one only for soliciting for funds for institutions as it has been streamlined into a total programme to foster understanding and support for the institution and to advance its course. Thus, university advancement now includes Alumni Relations, Linkages with institutions, corporate bodies and industries, Communication and Marketing, Strategic Initiatives, Staff development, Brand management and much more, in addition to the principal task of fund raising, even though the organizational models for achieving this may differ from one institution to the other. It therefore does not come as a surprise that in some universities, a whole Division is created for Advancement with an official as high as that of a Deputy Vice-Chancellor or a successful and well-known business mogul put in charge of the affairs of the Division.
4. University of Port Harcourt (Uniport) and University Advancement
The experience of the University of Port Harcourt with University Advancement will be reported in three parts: before 2000, between 2000 and 2005 and after 2005.
4.1 Before 2000
Established by Decree No.84 of 1979, the University of Port Harcourt commenced first as a College of the University of Lagos in 1975 and became a full-flexed university in 1977. Between 1975 and the close of the last millennium in 1999, the institution has had one Principal and four Vice-Chancellors. They are Professors Donald Ekong (now late), Principal and later Vice-Chancellor, Sylvanus Cookey, Kelsey Harrison and Theophilus Vincent, in that order. There were also a number of acting vice-chancellors.
Governing Councils changed frequently and there were even times that the university operated without them. In the wider sense of university advancement being seen partly as a process by which help is solicited from within and outside the university to enable the institution to tackle various challenges, each of these former vice-chancellors, including those that acted at different times, did his own bit to solicit such assistance and so advanced the course of the institution.
Donald Ekong’s greatest contribution was in the area of human capital development as he was desirous of establishing a unique institution that would meet its challenges through the application of first principles and not by aping any of the existing older universities. A good number of the early teaching and non-teaching staff of Uniport were trained and obtained higher degrees under the programme which he instituted with renowned universities outside the country. It was this action that ensured the stability of the university within a short time following its establishment. Sylvanus Cookey strove to improve the dearth of physical infrastructure and was able to raise funds for such purposes. The most notable among these, is the main student hostel complex – Nelson Mandela Hall – at the permanent site of the institution which was constructed with funds largely obtained from outside the institution’s regular sources. A grateful university has since invested him with an honorary doctorate degree of the University of Port Harcourt. Kelsey Harrison concentrated on power supply as the university was crumbling under the yoke of an 11KVA main power supply which was not only epileptic but was also weak in its intensity causing laboratory and domestic appliances to break down frequently. The university was able to change eventually to the 33KVA main power supply. Theophilus Vincent, on his part, tackled the main entrance route into the university and ensured its completion.
At the time of these achievements, University Advancement as is currently known, was not a popular parlance in the Nigerian university system. So, Uniport neither had a university advancement office, nor was any of these achievements so categorised. This was true also of the older universities. For instance, neither was the tremendous assistance – financial and otherwise – that the University of Ibadan received from the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation in the 1980s as was reported by Dr. Christiana Tamuno, an erstwhile Registrar of Uniport, in her doctorate of philosophy dessertation3, nor the massive assistance the University of Nigeria received from the Michigan State University in the 1960s4, documented under University Advancement.
Uniport welcomed the new millennium in some crisis situation. Along with those of some other universities, its vice-chancellor was removed from office prematurely by the Federal Government and I was appointed acting vice-chancellor of the institution with effect from January 1, 2000. Having served previously in that capacity in 1995 for over a year, I felt seriously challenged as I was consumed with the passion of how to elevate the status of the university in the global comity of institutions of higher education and to enhance its ability to contribute to sustainable national development. But there were some challenges. Several years of military incursion into the body polity of the country prior to 1999 and the many instances of human rights abuses had drawn the anger of the international community against Nigeria. In their reaction, the country was effectively isolated from others, making it a pariah state as it were. The country’s higher educational institutions, a number of which were highly regarded prior to that time, were not spared the fall outs of this forced seclusion. Many staff took exit for greener pastures and those left had little or no academic or professional contact with colleagues outside Nigeria. So, my first step as I saw it, was to expose staff and students of Uniport to their counterparts in other institutions of higher learning especially those outside Nigeria. Accordingly, with the approval of Council and Senate of the university, I established an External Linkage Programme Unit (ELPU) in the vice-chancellor’s office; appointed a capable academic – Professor Mbuk Ebong – as its Director, and gave it Terms of Reference to, among others,
- establish international linkages;
- promote the exchange of staff and students;
- initiate shared research projects and
- explore the possibility of joint degree award programmes through shared curricula.
With time, we were able to set up many such linkages within and outside Africa. Sadly a good number of them came to nought but a few were phenomenally successful and are in operation till date. For instance, the linkage between Uniport on one hand and the University of Toronto and Associations of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), produced the Centre for Health and Development at Uniport. This centre has done such outstanding academic work that it received very strong commendation in February 2013 from the authorities of the AUCC.
As the university was linking and delinking, two fortuitous events occurred. The first was that the university’s all out pursuit of close relationship and understanding between it and the many oil majors that operate in and around the city of Port Harcourt – Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC), Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Schlumberger Nigeria Ltd, Mobil Nigeria Limited, Elf Petroleum Nigeria Limited (EPNL) which later became TOTAL, were beginning to yield fruits. The second was that Uniport was announced as one of four universities (others were ABU, Bayero-Kano, and UI) which MacArthur Foundation, a major philanthropic organisation had chosen to assist in the revitalization of their academic activities, on a long term basis, following the strong institutional leadership the Foundation identified in the university.
Thereafter, three things happened in quick succession – all under the inspiration of MacArthur Foundation – that eventually led to the formation of an advancement centre:
- the formation of a body known as “Friends of the University of Port Harcourt” which was spearheaded by SPDC,
- the production of a 10-year Strategic Plan and
- the formal conversion of the ELPU into a University Advancement Centre, which was to carry out fund raising exercises in addition to its role of establishing exchanges and linkages.
MacArthur Foundation along with the “Friends of the University of Port Harcourt” took it upon themselves to promote the interest of the institution in every conceivable manner. They made pledges in cash and kind which they honoured; gave freely of their time in the service of the university; galvanised the alumni and advocated for the institution within and outside the country before individuals and multinational conglomerates. Dr. Jonathan Fanton, then President of MacArthur Foundation, himself a former president (vice-chancellor) of one of America’s universities, criss-crossed the length and breadth of the country making a case for the revamping of universities, especially the group of four which his organisation had pledged to work with. He wrote extensively in local and international media espousing the value of higher education in developing countries, especially Nigeria and that support for it is the surest way of upholding democracy, maintaining inclusive national growth and enthroning sustainable development. So it was MacArthur Foundation that gave the strong institutional support that enabled Uniport to convert its ELPU to a University Advancement Centre.
On its part, the strategic plan served as a compass, directing resources in a prioritised manner to short, medium and long term projects while the University Advancement Centre functioned as the conduit and clearing house through which most of these actions took place. Thus, the centre brought in a new lease of life into the affairs of the university and was involved in the operations of many sections of the institution.
The outcome of this outburst of activities on the university’s landscape and more importantly, the minds and spirit of staff and students was immense. I shall illustrate with a few examples.
4.2.1 New University’s Sports Complex and NUGA 2004
In seeking for approval to stage the 20th edition of the Nigerian Universities Games (NUGA) in 2004, otherwise known as NUGA 2004, I did so with clearly stated objectives. Uniport would use the opportunity offered to stage the games, to set up quality sporting facilities that would meet global standards and have multiplier effects, long after the games would have been concluded. The games should showcase Uniport as a disciplined institution capable of hosting all universities in Nigeria and officials over a period of a week without much untoward effects. The university should aim for universal participation by Nigerian universities and it should win the games convincingly .
At the end of the games on December 4, 2004, it was clear that most of these objectives were achieved:
- Uniport currently has one of the best sporting facilities in the Nigerian Universities System for field and track events as well as indoor sports. The swimming pool built through the mytra technology by VAST International in collaboration with a German Firm, is of Olympic size and standard.
- 79% of all universities in Nigeria then – federal, state and private- participated or sent observer teams.
- The games were well-organised and properly run. There were no major controversies or mishaps. The then Hon. Minister of Education, Professor Fabian Osuji while delivering his remarks at the closing events of the games, described NUGA 2004 as the best ever.
- Team Uniport won the games convincingly, beating Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, to the second place by a wide margin, Since then, Team Uniport has consistently won all NUGA games till now ( four consecutive times) and also the West African University Games (WAUG- three consecutive times).
- Uniport is currently establishing a Sports Institute which will incorporate courses in Sports Medicine using the facilities of the sports complex as its backbone. Additionally, the centre has been recognised as a High Performance Centre for the training of elite athletes from English speaking West Africa by the Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and the Olympafrica Centre for Youth Sports training (Youth Olympics).
4.2.2 Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS)
IPS is a flagship professional training and research institute in Petroleum Engineering and energy resources that emanated directly from Uniport’s interactions with oil majors – particularly, NNPC and TOTAL, with whose help and support, the institute was established in 2003, under the sterling leadership then of Professor Joseph Ajienka as Director and the current vice-chancellor of the university. The institute which is highly rated within and outside Nigeria and is run in partnership with industry and the IFP School Paris – one of the best Petroleum Engineering tertiary educational institutions in continental Europe for professional training in petroleum – in the selection of students, curriculum development and execution and training of the students. At the end of their studies in various fields in Petroleum Engineering at the IPS, students receive degrees that are jointly awarded by Uniport and IFP School.
4.2.3 Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium
Chief Ebitimi Banigo, now HRM, the Amayanabo of Okpomo, donated this auditorium that is designed to seat 1500 persons with modern facilities to the university under the aegis of “Friends of the University of Port Harcourt” in 2003. The facility has since then served as the main auditorium of the university where major activities are held – inaugural and valedictory lectures, conferences and symposia as well as addresses by important persons to the university community.
4.2.4 Senate Building
MacArthur Foundation played a major role in the construction of this building which is currently the most imposing structure at the permanent site of the university. It houses all parts of the central administration including the various sections of vice-chancellor’s office complex, the various divisions of the Registry and all units of the Bursary Department.
4.2.5 Donald Ekong Library
Construction of the Donald Ekong Library, the main library of the university, which is named after the institution’s only principal and first vice-chancellor, the late Professor Donald Ekong, began in the late 1970s along with other structures at the commencement of the university. But, like some others, work was abandoned after a few years due to lack of funds; library facilities such as there were, were offered from a temporary site at one of the university’s parks.
Due to its importance therefore, the absence of a befitting library to serve the needs of the university was one of the first issues that I, as vice-chancellor, raised with Mac Arthur Foundation when it began its relationship with the institution. Preliminary work, aimed at getting construction workers back to the site commenced almost immediately and today, the building is complete and proudly serves as the central university library.
4.2.6 Staff Development
Several staff development programmes were initiated for teaching and non-teaching staff which were used by beneficiaries to improve their knowledge and skills within and outside the country. They also opened up collaborative research opportunities for several persons and departments in the university.
While these few examples are probably enough to demonstrate some of the tangible outcomes of the advancement programme that was launched by the university at the turn of the millennium, it was the intangible results that, to my mind, better defined the level of success of those efforts. The general tone of the university was lifted, morale was boosted and staff and students felt a better sense of purpose. This resulted in a more determined effort to do things rightly and also cut down on the rate of crime and other malfeasance that were hitherto commonplace in the university, especially cult-related activities and examination malpractices. In sum, the university was advanced5.
The point must now be made that these achievements were not due to the single-handed effort of the vice-chancellor. The university was lucky in having a superb Governing Council which was led by a seasoned, well-informed, erudite scholar and a fine gentleman, Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo, who was himself, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan – Nigeria’s premier university. Council shared the vision of the vice-chancellor and gave him maximum support and encouragement at all times. So was the Senate on issues that had to do with academic matters. So, aside from some irritating interruptions by a few mavericks – teaching and non-teaching – it will be correct to say that indeed there was a mass movement which involved not just management and staff but also the student body as most persons contributed in various ways to ensuring the progress that has been described. Most of this was brought about by the new direction which University Advancement had imposed on the institution.
4.3 After 2005.
By 2005, the policy of reaching out, which is the fundamental of all university advancement programmes had taken firm root in Uniport. But even with that, profound credit must be given to the two vice-chancellors – Professors Don Baridam (2005-2010) and Joseph Ajienka (2010 – ) who were appointed after July 2005 at the expiration of my tenure, for having, in essence, continued on the path of projecting the image of the university as an important tool for its development. Both came into office with well-articulated ideas on how to build on what had been achieved and so, move the institution forward. Whereas Baridam “succeeded in raising the bar of both academic and infrastructural development of the University of Port Harcourt”6, Ajienka wishes “to develop the university into a world-class Entrepreneurial University renowned for its creativity, innovation, productivity and scholarship…”7 He came up with a Development Model that is essentially based on partnership – a cornerstone in university advancement programmes. The model consists of international collaboration, industry/private partnership, partnership with professional bodies and government.
Professor Don Baridam rendered an excellent service to the university as its 6th. vice-chancellor and under his five years’ watch, using largely the tool of reaching out, the university attracted funds to put up “buildings for faculty and administrative services”, including the O. B. Lulu -Briggs Health Centre, Faculty of Management Sciences, UBA Hostel, Goodluck Jonathan Hostel, First Bank Faculty of Social Sciences Building and Clinical Sciences Faculty6. Importantly, the university launched a Capital Campaign – an advanced form of fund raising exercise, which turned out to be hugely successful.8.
Similarly, Professor Joseph Ajienka, just midway in his five years’ tenure, as the 7th. vice-chancellor, has reviewed the 2003 Strategic Plan and is currently preparing a new one. Through the same process of reaching out, under his leadership, several new structures are adorning the landscape of the university. They include the Emerald Energy Centre, College of Graduate Studies, the Elechi Amadi Faculty of Humanities Building, the Bruce Powel Building of the Faculty of Animal and Environmental Biology, the Bamanga Tukur Institute, the Central Bank of Nigeria Centre of Excellence Building7.
So, all in all, it can be categorically stated that the formal introduction of university advancement programme into Uniport at the turn of the millennium has been of immense benefit to the institution especially in the area of infrastructural development. The import of this quantum leap is better appreciated when one matches what has been achieved against the funding difficulties the institution experienced from its proprietors during the period.
However, before closing this section of today’s address, the point must once again be made, even at the risk of repetition, that the success of university advancement programme at Uniport, must be placed squarely at the feet of the Ayo Banjo- led Governing Council and the Jonathan Fanton- led MacArthur Foundation. The former for allowing the experiment of the introduction of a formal advancement programme to commence in Uniport and the later for ensuring that the experiment is successful.
5. University of Port Harcourt Foundation
The idea of a University of Port Harcourt Foundation – not to be confused with the substructure for buildings on campus or the Foundation Courses run by the institution – was first mooted in 2003 when the university was learning the rudiments of university advancement programmes8. Not much happened then to actualise it as it was thought better to learn to walk before running. By 2008, the university had become self assured to some extent and so the issue of a Foundation re-echoed and was pursued by the authorities of the university from then on to the point at which a UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT FOUNDATION was incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 6 June, 2013.
As incorporated, the foundation is a registered Trust with five Trustees and is solely owned by Uniport. It is, among others, to “assist the university to meet specific financial needs to further the university’s mission of providing quality education for its students and the society”9. Also, it is expected to “foster financial support for the university from its Alumni and other sources towards various academic programmes including but, not limited to research, projects and training.”9
In addition to the current activities of the Uniport Advancement Centre, the foundation would manage the funds that accrue to the advancement programme in a professional manner. It would be manned by seasoned and successful entrepreneurs as well as financial experts who would invest the funds in viable business ventures, locally and abroad to yield dividends which, in collaboration with the institution’s Governing Council, would then be used to finance targeted programmes in the university. The Foundation, no doubt, will prove to be a further gargantuan step in the reaching out process and if properly managed, should ensure the financial viability of the university in perpetuity. In this respect, it is necessary to complete the process of the establishment of the Foundation by appointing a Board and the various personnel so that work could commence in earnest. Council may wish to revisit the proposed organizational structure of the Foundation in line with current realities.
6. The Future.
Enough has probably been said of the value that University Advancement has added to Uniport since the turn of the millennium when it was introduced into the operations of the institution as an important developmental tool. In this penultimate section of my presentation, I wish to reiterate some issues that would strengthen the advancement programme as well as the upcoming Foundation because the two are operations that are dependent on clearly defined preconditions.
Perception, they say is reality; it is universities that are perceived to be good and deserving that more readily attract voluntary support in cash and kind ( the main object of advancement) from the public. Such universities are those that are well run with good academic standards, conducive learning and working environment and with graduates that are skillful and of high quality.
The Governing Council, Senate and the vice-chancellor have major roles to play in giving the university a sense of direction. Council must be seen to be above board in all that it does, Senate must be rigorous in instituting high academic standards and the vice-chancellor must be visionary with a strong passion for transparency, accountability and the progress of the university.
6.2 Strengthen the Alumni Association
The alumni of a university constitute the backbone of any successful university advancement programme. So, every effort should be made to foster a strong alumni association, not just in the city in which the university is located, but also in other big cities in the country and beyond in order to build a global network. Properly harnessed, the alumni lead in all aspects of university advancement, be it the various forms of fund raising activities – small gifts that are given yearly (annual funds), class reunions, major gifts, capital campaigns, planned giving, research funds, or development efforts, or advocacy or protecting the brand of the institution. Most of the first generation universities that have strong alumni associations, have benefited immensely from the generosity of their alumni.
On account of this formidable potential of alumni in the process of university advancement, universities should maintain an accurate database of their alumni and keep regular contacts with them – keeping a tab on their progress, recognising their birthdays, marriage anniversaries and generally keeping them well informed about events in their alma mater.
However, even with the formation of a National Association of Alumni of Nigerian Universities – an umbrella body designed to encourage alumni formations in Nigerian universities, alumni associations in many universities are weak. For one thing, a number of alumni do not in any way wish to be reminded of their days in the universities they attended due to the hard times and bad experiences they had there – violence, sexual harassment, poor utilities, poor hostel and learning facilities, strike actions and much more. There is also the problem of high graduate unemployment which makes it difficult for jobless graduates to have the means of supporting their alma mater.
Uniport should leverage on its high profile alumni which includes the country’s President, Commander-in-Chief, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR to advance its course. Though this is currently being done better than was the case previously, the tempo should be enhanced.
6.3 Research and Innovation
Of all the distinguishing features of a university, it is its volume of research output and their class that constitute the strongest point by which the quality of a university is judged9. So, the upcoming Uniport Foundation should seek for funds and partnership that would make meaningful research the strong point of the university. The Foundation should take maximum advantage of the development model instituted by the vice-chancellor which is based on partnership as the synergy between the university and the partners as proposed, creates an environment for innovation. And to do this effectively, the university should place emphasis on the development and acquisition of relevant technology for its research and development. Such an approach should lead to discoveries and the patenting of many things that are put into everyday use and so afford graduates of the university a head start in line with the current entrepreneurship posture of the institution. The university’s 27th convocation lecture – Entrepreneurship In University Education: Beyond Talk – was devoted to this issue.10
6.4 Cultivate Major Donors
Those who give big grants or leave huge endowments at death to educational intuitions are often wooed, cultivated and nurtured slowly through a gradual and long process. This is an art that is taught and learnt; even the process of identifying such persons, is. The upcoming Foundation should compile a list of such persons and commence the process of enticing them to be interested in the progress of the university.
6.5 Train Foundation Staff
University Advancement/Foundation work is a specialised occupation. Whereas it may suffice to use a competent staff who has not had any formal training to commence a small alumni registration/relations office, it requires trained staff to run properly organised advancement offices and foundations. Such persons make a career of the assignment. To be serious with Advancement and Foundation work at Uniport, Council should commit to such an investment.
6.6 Strategic Plan
Donors are usually unwilling to make donations for unspecified projects. They often prefer to react to requests of support for well-articulated, time- bound ones. A strategic plan – a plan for the orderly and incremental development of the university, with financial implications, usually spells out projects in a manner that donors like to see. A strategic plan document thus becomes an important portfolio of Uniport Advancement Office and should be included in every request for support and assistance that the university makes to an outside organisation. I am happy that a new 10-year strategic plan is currently being put in place.
6.7 Keep the Brand alive
Maintaining a good image in the eyes of the public is an important aspect of university advancement and propagating a brand is a key tool in this public relations act. Fortunately, Uniport has succeeded in developing a brand over the years – Unique Uniport. Every effort must be made to protect, preserve and keep this brand alive. Here, the Music Department of the university deserves commendation for the composition of the university anthem with a refrain on Unique Uniport. So also, the Information, Publications and Public Relations Unit for the quarterly publication of UNIQUE Uniport..
Committed Alumni are the best brand ambassadors for a university. The well-known encounter between the Alumni Association of the University of Lagos and the Federal Government of Nigeria when the later tried unilaterally, to change the name of the university to Mooshood Abiola University, shows how far alumni can go in protecting a brand name. It all confirms that a robust effort at courting every single alumnus of Uniport should be the preoccupation of the upcoming foundation.
In the same way, advancement offices mount damage control measures to mitigate harmful effects when serious negative events occur in universities. A case in point is the recent incident of the “Aluu Four” when four persons, supposedly students of Uniport, were burnt alive in broad day light in Aluu, near the university.
Since 2000 when University Advancement Programme was formally introduced into Uniport, the university has reaped an immense harvest. Transiting from University Advancement to a Foundation should even rake in bigger bounty and Council should hasten efforts in that direction. In doing so, Council should charge the Foundation to continue to lay emphasis on targeted physical development of the institution but in addition, the Foundation should now establish a robust drive towards partnership that would encourage the funding of research and innovation to enable discoveries and the patenting of things used in everyday life. The manufacture of such discoveries from Uniport, would serve as launching pads for graduates of an entrepreneurial university which Unique Uniport is becoming.
2. . Culled from address by Professor Bamitale Omole, Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife on the inauguration of Advancement Board, march 2013.
3. Tamuno, Christiana. 1986. The Roles of the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation in the Development of the University of Ibadan, 1962-1978. Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the School of Education, University of Pittsburgh, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
4. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University of Nigeria-Nsukka.
5. Briggs, Nimi 2006. Turning the Tide. Spectrum Books Limited, Ibadan Nigeria.
6.Baridam, Don. 2010. Raising the Bar. Panam Nigeria Press.
7. Ajienka, Joseph. Uniport. The Making of an Entrepreneurial University . Milestones and Monuments. Mid-Term Progress Report. July 12, 2010 to February 2013.
8. Ebong, Mbuk B. 30 June, 2010.Hand Over Notes. University Advancement Centre.
9. Briggs, Nimi 2012. Fulfilling The Mandate: Rivers State University of Science and Technology. Convocation Lecture.
10 Okebukola, Peter 2011 Entrepreneurship In University Education: Beyond Talk. 27th. Convocation Lecture. University of Port Harcourt. Thursday, June 16, 2011.
FROM UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT TO UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT FOUNDATION By Nimi Briggs, Emeritus Professor, University of Port Harcourt. TWO DAYS RETREAT GOVERNING COUNCIL, UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT. May, 2014