DELSU, Egwunyenga and Leadership

Andy Egwunyenga

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

It is a pedestrian knowledge that the Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State, on Saturday, April 29, 3023, held its 15th convocation that produced 58 first-class graduands with Obuseh Emmanuel Ewere of Electrical/Electronic Engineering emerging the Overall Best Graduating Student with a C.G.P.A of 4.91.

What is, however, newsy is that the week-long event, which was held with varying activities, has, more than anything else, revealed two separate but similar developments within the institution.

First, the convocation ceremony provided guests made up of parents, media professionals, development professionals and critical stakeholders the opportunity to come in contact with Professor Andy Ogochukwu Egwunyenga, the self-contained, result-oriented and quietly influential Vice Chancellor of the university.

Secondly and very key, through the celebration, guests got new awareness of how DELSU has through democratized academic and infrastructural provisions backed by transformative and visionary leadership, become the fourth-ranked best state-owned university in the country.

This particular claim is further evident in the institution’s permanent site (Campus Three), which is visibly dotted with world-class infrastructures and state-of-the-art learning facilities, with so many ongoing constructions nearing completion.

While it will not be characterized as an overstatement if a first-time visitor to the school describes DELSU as an institution that is headed for the top, one undiluted fact stands out; the sustainable development and the effects of the leadership Professor Egwunyenga has brought to the school will definitely live beyond him and his administration.

This particular understanding came into view recently after listening with rapt attention to his use of vivid evidence and carefully carved emotional match to demonstrate how humility, cordial relationship with staff (teaching and non-teaching staff) and support from the Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration in the state has assisted DELSU to achieve its national recognition and earned its pride of place in the comity of state universities in the country.

Let’s consider the particulars of these claims.

While addressing a press conference as part of programmes to mark the university’s 15th convocation ceremony at the institution’s conference hall, Egwunyenga, among other remarks, said DELSU recently recorded a significant breakthrough when all the 40 programmes presented to National Universities Commission (NUC) in the November/December 2022 accreditation exercise secured full accreditation.

He pointed out that accreditation of the programmes presented by the university to NUC happens to be the first time since the 31 years of existence of DELSU that full accreditation would be returned for such programmes in one fell swoop.

He stressed that all 80 programmes in the university have full NUC accreditation status, no interim accreditation, and no denial for any programme. This, again, is unprecedented in the history of the school and has only been made possible by the unwavering determination of the university administration and the entire staff to advance and reposition the institution for national and global recognition.

Going further, he announced that most recently, approval was sought and obtained from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to raise the university’s admission quota for the Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) Programme from 75 to 120.

This was targeted at reducing the admission pressure that qualified students from Delta State and neighbouring states go through in getting admitted to study Medicine and Surgery at Delta State University, Abraka, noting that his administration met the admission quota for the MBBS Programme at 50 upon assumption of duty in December 2019.

Even as he stated that the first increase was from 50 to 75, Egunyenga said that obtaining approval from the NUC for the commencement of some new Degree Awarding Programmes, namely: Entrepreneurship Studies, Office & Information Management, Biotechnology, Public Administration and Medical Laboratory Science.

“Currently awaiting the report of NUC’s Resource Verification Exercise for the commencement of the Agriculture Business Management Programme and the Doctor of Pharmacy Programme, the University hitherto only ran the Bachelor of Pharmacy Programme,” he said, adding that Delta State University is pleased to announce to the Nigeria Scientific Community and the general public the approval of Benneth’s Joint Canada- Israel Research Program to be conducted in Delta State University.

The research team, according to him, is led by Dr Ben-Azu, Head of the Department of Pharmacology,  Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences. His research interest spans the study of Neuropsychiatry (neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders) and Neuropharmacology, brain diseases, including schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stress-related neuropathological conditions.

As part of efforts to further meet the institution’s research goal to help make the university the epicentre of multidisciplinary research to provide solutions to the problems of society, the Vice Chancellor said that DELSU is the development of aquafeed for sustainable aquaculture.:

“DELSU decided to use innovative and transformative aquaculture to bridge the huge gap between fish demand and domestic production as well as the non-readily availability of tilapia feed by signing two MoUs with the National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU), Keelung and also with the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) to actuate a tripartite partnership between DELSU, NTOU and NIOMR’.

Prof. Egunyenga, who themed his press conference speech as Another bountiful harvest, said in the latest global ranking of Universities by Alper-Doger Scientific Index, DELSU was ranked as the 27th best University in Nigeria among the over 200 universities in the country and the 4th best among state-owned universities. Further analysis of the ranking he observed showed the school to be the best State University in the South-South and South Eastern part of Nigeria.

“Furthermore, another highly recognized global university ranking body, Webometrics, in their own latest ranking, placed the University as 194th out of 2087 Universities in Africa and 24th out of over 200 universities in Nigeria, based on verified Google Scholar Citations. According to the ranking, Delta State University recorded 56,443 citations, beating some highly rated Universities in the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Turkey, Portugal, Canada, and some other more advanced countries. This again is consistent with the Alper-Doger Scientific Index ranking that earlier placed the University as the 27th best in the country and 4th best state-owned university,” the VC said.

On capacity building and innovation in the university, Prof. Egwunyenga said that in order to ensure compliance with the university’s global best practices and competitiveness over two years ago developed four policy documents to guide the conduct of staff, students and other stakeholders.

“These include Environment Policy, Security Policy, Plagiarism Policy and Sexual Harassment Policy. Two new policy documents have been developed this year. First is the Gender Policy initiated by the Centre for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS). The policy was the outcome of a summit on Women in Leadership and development hosted by CGDS in October 2021,” he said.

According to him, the policy aims at creating a clear framework to drive the development of practice and procedures that will ensure equal rights and opportunities for men and women in all areas and structures of the university, including students and staff.

It will promote and ensure gender equity, establish structures, programmes and mechanisms to empower men and women and transform gender relations within the university.

“Delta State University is committed to eliminating barriers to women’s development and shall declare its position boldly on gender issues within its community, nationally and internally,” Egwunyenga said.

He also pointed out that this year, the Senate also approved the Copyright Policy, which is consistent with the Nigerian Copyright Act,2022 to protect writer’s rights to secure fair compensation and acknowledgement for their creative labours while also establishing restrictions and exceptions to facilitate public access to works of arts. The Delta State University Copyright Policy deals with the issue of Ownership, Publication, External Use and Payment for an academic’s Intellectual Property.

Prof. Egwunyenga expressed the gratitude of the institution to the Visitor and Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, for his unwavering support in funding the school and the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Professor Sam Oyovbaire, for his inspiring leadership and for creating an enabling environment for the university administration to discharge its responsibilities in line with its statue, while also acknowledging the contributions of other distinguished members of the council.

Utomi is the Program Coordinator (Media and Politics), Advocacy for Social and Economic Justice (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via 08032725374

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