By Ademola Adesoji
It has become necessary to provide a response to the opinion and bickering published under the Friday Musings with Ayo Olukotun in The Punch Newspapers of Friday, July 11, 2021 on the so-called stiffness of the advertisement for the post of Vice-Chancellor of Osun State University. It is important to state that the Osun State University is a fast-paced institution with the target of reaching high ranking in the global comity of Universities. The last four and half years have witnessed transformative changes, with the foundation to achieve this global feat being laid, and which effort must be sustained and consolidated to ensure that we give the Government and people of the State the type of University that the founding fathers desire. The University is noted for her zero tolerance for corruption, any form of harassment and other vices that tend to plague many higher institutions in our clime. It is therefore, imperative that the Vice-Chancellor has the moral wherewithal to lead the University in this direction. The candidate for the post of Vice-Chancellor of the University must also be a distinguished scholar with outstanding academic and administrative records. The Candidate must be a proven manager of human, financial and material resources. We are indeed grateful that Professor Olukotun acknowledged the tremendous advances made in the last five years through a combination of the incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Professor Labode Popoola, the Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali, SAN-led Governing Council and the Chancellor, Apostle (Dr) Folorunso Alakija. The noble roles of the Visitors to the University (Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola) during the period in question are equally noteworthy.
It is necessary to make it clear that the listed qualities in the advertisement fall into five categories of requirements that are usually expected of any person who aspires to lead a University as Vice-Chancellor in the 21st Century. All categories of scholars (Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, Technology and Education) who have taken their academic career seriously should be able to meet the low scores set for Research Gate and Google Scholar h-index and citation as advertised by the Osun State University. These are modern global indices to measure academic qualities of a scholar and UNIOSUN cannot pretend not to know. It is important to state that the criteria set by UNIOSUN do not exclude scholars in the Humanities and the Social Sciences as alleged by Prof. Ayo Olukotun in his column. Gladly, the criteria are even met by some non-professors in UNIOSUN, except for their current status and also there are several Professors who meet the criteria except for the 10 years post-Professorial requirement. The columnist painted scholars in Humanities and Social Sciences as outliers and bystanders in the global academic community by stating that they could not meet the criteria set by UNIOSUN for a 21st Century Vice-Chancellor. A curious check at the website of some universities in Nigeria including the Universities of Ibadan, Lagos, Nsukka, Benin, Port Harcourt, LAUTECH, FUOYE, Covenant University and Redeemers University, among others shows that some scholars in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, have higher Research Gate, Google Scholar h-index and citation scores compared to scholars in Sciences and Technology. Excellence is borderless, raceless, creedless and colourless. It’s just what it is, and this business is global. The employers have only stated the eligibility criteria as it is empowered by the Law to do. It’s part of the autonomy that the Nigerian University system
taunts government for, but which we do not seem sincerely ready for. Then, what are the protesters talking about? The spirit of the UNIOSUN advertisement is that subjective scoring of any candidate won’t just be possible under the advertised criteria. In the usual adverts that some see as “normal”, the “oracles” may decide to, and indeed they score the best candidates lower than their preferred mediocre candidates, because, the criteria for scoring are hidden and known only among the less than 10 panelists in the final selection process. Therefore, the society should commend the Council of UNIOSUN for putting all the cards on the table, face up and for providing a level playground for all applicants.
Osun State University, in the last five years has been progressively innovative in the way it has appointed its principal officers. For example, in the last interview it did for the appointment of the incumbent Vice-Chancellor in November, 2016. It invited leaders of all the four staff unions to witness the interviews of all the candidates and to write independent reports of their assessments of the process. Representative of the Students Union also sat in to witness all the proceedings. The process was also audio and video recorded to enable those who want to know how the final decision was made to see. The argument of the Yusuf Ali-led Council was that if the Vice-Chancellor would be the head of the whole university, all the component parts of the University must see the process that resulted in the appointment. This was the first time that such ever took place in the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor and it is a kind of progressive thinking that many universities may not countenance. We think this is the kind of transparency required in the academia and should not be a subject of dispute.
We consider it unfortunate that some individuals who have risen to the cadre of Professorship without any tangible and measurable academic achievements are always stampeding the University system in Nigeria to set criteria for Vice-Chancellorship appointment according to their whims and caprices. Nigeria is no longer in an era when universities appointed VCs without CVs. Actually, any Professor that raises questions against the quality of UNIOSUN advertisement should cover his or her face in shame because he/she probably has nothing to show for his/her elevation to the rank of Professor. We should stop the craze of how people aspire to occupy offices that are bigger than them.
The Governing Council of Osun State University decided to make the advertisement as open as possible to remove any iota of ambiguity, obscurity and misgiving during the final selection process. The advertisement is very clear because it provides both the questions and the answers for any intending candidate for the job. It is also important to state that the Council acted within its powers as stated in the UNIOSUN Establishment Law to set the criteria on qualifications and qualities required of the Vice-Chancellor. The UNIOSUN Establishment Law, First Schedule A14, Section 3(5) states inter alia, “When a vacancy occurs in the office of the Vice-Chancellor, the Council shall advertise the vacancy in a reputable journal or widely read newspaper in Nigeria specifying: the qualifications and qualities of the person who may apply for the post; and the terms and conditions of service applicable to the post, and therefore, draw up a shortlist of suitable candidates for consideration”.
Find below the classification of the criteria under the broad categories for the education of people who are in doubt:
1. Academic excellence such as to be able to command the respect of national and international academic communities and colleagues:
• Possess a Doctorate Degree from a recognized university, and be a full Professor of not less than Ten (10) years standing in a recognized university, at the closing date for the submission of application
• Candidate must have published a minimum of 50 research (journal) articles with at least 20 of the articles published in high impact journals as defined by Thomson Reuters ISI and Web of Science;
• Candidate must demonstrate consistent academic productivity at Professorial level by publishing at least 10 research articles in the last three years in high impact journals as defined by Thomson Reuters ISI and Web of Science.
• The candidate must have a Research Gate score of not less than 15, Google Scholar h-index of not less than 15 and total citation of not less than 800.
2. Possess a proven and demonstrable ability to attract international research and development grants and linkage to internationalize the University;
• The Candidate must present evidence of winning and leading of at least ten (10) locally and internationally funded research with evidence of achievements through the funded research.
• The candidate must provide evidence of successful international engagement and strong international network in academic, research and development programmes.
• Candidate must have attended and presented research papers in at least 20 international conferences.
3. Ability to provide academic and administrative leadership for the University community.
• Possess a clear vision for the further development of the University and realization of its vision, mission and strategic goals.
• Have a demonstrable ability to establish and maintain partnership with local, national and international governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations;
• Exhibit entrepreneurial drive and ability to attract extra-statutory funds and mobilize other resources for the development of the University;
• Excellent time management skills and the ability to oversee multiple projects simultaneously with a focus on clarity, details, and deadlines;
• Proven ability as a problem-solving leader with special ability to recommend immediate and long-term solution-based strategies to the Governing Council, Senate and the university community, and deliver results;
• Ability to foster team building, promote professionalism and build leadership capacity of both staff and students.
• Demonstrate ability to attract, motivate and retain highly skilled and talented staff in all categories, teaching and non-teaching;
4. Proven integrity and ability to build and lead an intelligent management team:
• Evidence of ethical and transparent leadership style at local and international levels.
• Possess personal integrity in the management of funds and be able to deploy financial resources as appropriate in the context of the University’s 20 years Strategic Plan, 2017– 2036.
• Candidate must demonstrate commitment to accountability, strength of character and transparency;
• Demonstrate interpersonal and team building skills and possess the ability to build bridges between staff, students, other members of the university community and the university’s stakeholders including the State and Local Governments in Osun;
• Ability to lead an intelligent management that will be able to advise the Governing Council and Senate on issues of financial planning, forecasting, and policy;
5. Personal traits:
• Exceptional communication, organizational and interpersonal skills to foster effective relationship with a range of local, national and international stakeholders;
• Demonstrate respectable level of ICT literacy
• Enjoy excellent physical and mental health
• Should not be older than sixty-five (65) years as at 05 November, 2021.
It is therefore, concluded that the criteria set by the UNIOSUN Council accommodate all categories of scholars in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, Technology and Education. The required scores for Research Gate and Google Scholar h-index and citation are low, and should be met by any Professor who aspires to lead a University in the 21st Century. If we make excellence our watchword, we are surely likely to build excellent institutions. The said advertisement is targeted at excellent scholars who have the wherewithal to provide an all-round leadership that is required by a truly 21st Century University, and we believe that Nigeria can still boast of such. Osun State University is on the upswing, and blazing the trail in many respects. It therefore, cannot afford to take any risk that will lead to retrogression. Sustainability is the keyword here. We plead with commentators not to stir up any crisis at UNIOSUN, as there is absolutely no need for one. There is nothing in the advertisement that precludes anyone from applying. However, only one person would be Vice-Chancellor at a time, and we desire the best. The Nigerian society should commend the Governing Council of UNIOSUN for placing all the cards on the table, face up to ensure a fair, just and credible selection process for the Vice-Chancellor of the University.
Ademola Adesoji is the Public Relations Officer of Osun State University, Osogbo, Nigeria
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