Chancellor, Rev Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi; Chairperson of Council, Professor Kwame Wiredu and Members of Council; Vice Chancellor, University of Cape Coast, Vice Chancellors and leadership from sister Universities; Nananom; Members of the Executive Management and Deans; Colleagues from the Academic, Professional and support sectors; The Student Representative Council, Students, family and friends; the media houses represented here; Ladies and Gentlemen
I will like to thank you for this honour and thank you for your presence to grace this event.
Chancellor, I dedicate this Induction Ceremony to my father, the late Opanin Yaw Gyamfi. I wish he were here today to witness the end product of his disciplinary training, the spirit of hard work, perseverance and time management he inculcated in me.
Chancellor, I am glad to acknowledge the presence of my mother, Amma Aniwaa, and delighted that my wife, Victoria, could arrive in the country last night to share with me this moment.
I am also glad to see other members of my family (brothers, sisters, uncles, in-laws) friends, church members and some eminent people of Kukuom who have come to share this occasion.
Chancellor, I am proud of the roles played by Rev Professor Samuel Boapeah and Rev Dr Kojo Osei-Wusuh in helping to bring the University College to this level. While Rev Professor Boapeah laid the foundation, Rev Dr Osei-Wusuh built on that foundation. Today I truly stand on the shoulders of strong leaders and I feel humbled by the prospect of having to follow in their footsteps. Please join me in saluting and honouring them for the great work done.
May I call these great men “prophets”. In 1991, when I appeared before the Ministers’ Recognition Committee of the Ghana Baptist Convention, I indicated my calling was a teacher of pastors. At the interview, Dr Osei-Wusuh encouraged me and said, “Yaw, you should think of studying to a PhD level. You have a long way to go, but know you can achieve it.” Similarly, in 2003, Professor Boapeah, then on sabbatical at the then Ghana Baptist Theological Seminary, as Vice-President (Admin), where I was a lecturer, after failing to convince me to accept to pursue my PhD on leave with pay, said, “Reverend, I know you will one day become the head of this institution.” Chancellor, it never occurred to me a day was coming that I will sit on the very chair these two great men have sat.
Chancellor, the question that I am grappling with today is both simple in its formulation and complex in its deliberation:
“WHAT CAN GBUC DO TO ATTRACT STUDENTS AND OFFER QUALITY EDUCATION THAT WILL PRODUCE MEN AND WOMEN TO LEAD GHANA IN THE SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE”?
Chancellor, in finding answers to this question, it is imperative to sketch the situation of contemporary Ghana. First, there are many private tertiary institutions in the country competing for the few students around. Today, public universities have joined in this competition. In our attempt to enroll more students in order to meet the many financial obligations of the operation of tertiary institutions, many Universities are tempted to lower the entry requirement.
Second, many Ghanaian graduates are theoretically literates but practically illiterates. For example, we train Accountants who are Excel illiterates, and engineers who have not seen machines they read and write about. The result is that they cannot perform in the workplace. No wonder we have Unemployed Graduates Association.
Third, indiscipline has become a menace among both old and young in Ghanaian society. As a result, the nation suffers from corruption and mismanagement. In fact, the moral fiber of our society has broken down.
Chancellor, by its motto, “Excellence in Leadership and Stewardship,” GBUC stands to lead our nation to produce men and women who will be the hope of a better Ghana. How do we achieve this? In situations like mine, one may be tempted to promise many solutions to raise the expectations of the people just as the politicians do to attract votes. I must admit I don’t have all the answers and I should not be tempted to appear so, for, unlike the politicians, I have already been voted into power. However, there are few things we can do together to arrest the situation.
First, quality and not mere quantity should be the focus of GBUC. Truly said, numbers increase finances, but I think quality increases finances the more. We intent to raise our standard such that in the very near future admission into GBUC becomes competitive. We hope to employ high caber of teaching staff to train and mentor our students, who will pass out with the capacity to compete with others anywhere in the world.
Second, Chancellor, the problem of Ghana is the failure of educational institutions to teach their students “how to organize and use knowledge after they acquire it”. We intend to help our students understand the real meaning of the word “educate”. The word is derived from the Latin “educo”, meaning to educe, to draw out, to develop from within. An educated person is not necessarily one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge. Educated people have developed the faculties of their minds so that they may acquire anything they want, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others. So, we plan to put into place “Critical Thinking” as a core subject for all our students.
Third, Chancellor, we intend to review our curricula to make our programmes more relevant. We plan, therefore, to partner with industries and communities. So that GBUC becomes an institution where the discovery, dissemination, and application of knowledge are synergistically balanced. It should be part of larger societal systems and dynamically fueled by the process of involvement - involvement in world affairs; involvement in the needs of individuals and their communities; involvement in the nurturing of inquisitive minds; involvement in the transfer of ideas from the campus to the marketplace; and involvement in societal problems in our villages, towns, cities, and beyond. By this, our focus is not about skills, but about skillfulness. We want our students to develop the ability to employ various resources and to change and re-learn in response to the constantly changing nature of the society around them. Thus our programmes will be practical-oriented to enable our graduates fit into the marketplace and win the competition with their colleagues from other institutions for the few jobs around them.
Fourth, Chancellor, a structural revolution is under way in higher education. There is an emerging pattern of global strategic partnerships, where a university shares programmes with other universities. We plan to accelerate and sharpen our international strategy and focus on the strategic development of key international academic alliances.
Fifth, Chancellor, funding is the driving wheel of any academic institution. Any educational institution that cannot assemble the critical mass of financial resources and necessary intellectual capital cannot ultimately compete on the national and international scene. This is one of the reasons GBUC must increase its resources substantially in terms of both intellectual capital and financial strength. We plan to solicit for funds both internally and externally. Internally, we intend to work closely with individual Baptist Churches to let know they are partners with us. We intent to employ a Director of Research, Innovation and Partnership to make this a reality.
Sixth, the training of the mind without the heart will be dangerous. Trained minds without trained hearts have stolen our monies, destroyed our forest, land and water bodies; they enjoy life with their families, while the majority of the citizenry live in poverty. We hope to train our students to balance academic excellence with spiritual development, so that clear and pure hearts will inform the intent of their minds.
And finally Chancellor, collective leadership is important. Considering my new leadership role, I recall Njabulo Ndebele’s words on counter-intuitive as a leadership approach. In this approach, leaders do not settle for easy or obvious solutions but they should rather be willing to anticipate outcomes which may appear improbable. He notes [and I quote]
Somehow it is in the apparent improbability of the unlikely outcome that its power lies … A leader then has to sell the unexpected outcome because he has to overcome intuitive (and understandable) doubts and suspicions . . . . In this act of salesmanship, truth and the absolute integrity of the leader are decisive attributes. [End of quote] (Ndebele, 2007:237)
I am grateful to have committed people that form the Executive Management Committee. Together this collective leadership will help me find those counter-intuitive solutions.
Chancellor, in conclusion
We have to celebrate our achievements so far. On the other hand, as we face the future together, we know there will be difficult periods and complex dilemmas. But we also know that tough times never last; resilient people and resilient organisations do. There is a saying that the greatest use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it. We have been entrusted with a special University College. It is our responsibility to pass on a good University College that we have received, in a better state to the future generation.
Finally, thank you to Ghana Baptist Convention and the University community for your confidence in me. Thank you dearly, for giving me the opportunity to express my abundant joy. I pledge to be a true servant of the Ghana Baptist University College, its people and its aspirations. God bless you all.