Two Liberian Civil Engineers, Others Expected Soon

Two civil engineers and one City and Regional Planner, trained at the Rutgers University in the U.S. are expected to join the faculty of the University of Liberia in the Department of Civil Engineering, T.J.R. Faulkner College of Science and Technology, and Liberia College respectively.

Mr. Samuka Konneh who specialized in civil and Environmental Engineering and Mr. Kieyee Bordolo who also specialized in Structural Engineering, were Teaching Assistants at the College of Science and Technology at the University of Liberia.

Both of them were awarded scholarships to do graduate work in Engineering at Rutgers University. According to Mr. Francis Cooper, Coordinator of the Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) Program, the two instructors are expected to begin their instructorship at the Engineering Department immediately upon their arrival in Liberia.

Mr. Cooper told this paper, in an exclusive interview, that the two former Teaching Assistants (TA5) successfully completed their studies on May 14, 2014. He said they are expected in the Country before the end of June and that he is very proud of them. He also admonished other Liberians to emulate the returning instructors’ fine examples.

For his part, the Acting Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, Mr. Augustus S. Moore expressed gratitude to the People of the United States of America for sponsoring the instructors through USAID/EHELD. He said the two instructors have already expressed eagerness to join the faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering.

In a related development, Mr. Daniel D. Smith, whose scholarship resulted indirectly from another USAID/HED grant has successfully earned a Master degree in City and Regional Planning also from Rutgers University. Mr. Smith’s scholarship award was a result of Dr. Dennis’ negotiation with UL’s partner, Rutgers University, to use its over-head from the joint USAID/HED grant as scholarship for a UL graduate. Dr. Dennis was a full professor and academic administrator at Rutgers for many years.

The return of these young trained Liberian Engineers and City Planner is one of the finest priorities of the University of Liberia Administration in ensuring that more Liberians are trained to build up the human capacity needs of the country, especially in the areas of the natural and health sciences, agriculture and engineering.

Prof. Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, President of the University of Liberia, who sees the graduation of these Liberians as opportunities for more Liberians to be trained in like manner, praised the initiative and support of USAID. Dr. Dennis then disclosed that more Liberians are expected to return home shortly to enhance the number of qualified faculty at the University.

More than 46 faculty/potential faculty of the University, drawn from various departments and disciplines, are on scholarships studying abroad and eventually will join the University’s academic community.

In a related development, the Coordinator of EHELD has disclosed that there are five scholarships now available for Liberian students to study in West and East African Universities, including Universities in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Makerere in Uganda. He said the scholarships will concentrate on obtaining Master’s degrees in Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Mining and Geological engineering.

The Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development Project in Liberia aims to equip young Liberian men and women for careers as leaders, entrepreneurs, and valued professionals in two critical sectors — agriculture and engineering.

The EHELD’s five-year project is funded with the generous support of the American People, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the management firm, Research Triangle International (RTI). The EHELD project works with two of Liberia’s leading Universities, (University of Liberia and Cuttington University) to create centers of excellence with improved teaching curricula, facilities and best practice teaching methodologies.

It will be recalled that in the earlier period of Liberia’s post-conflict recovery, USAID’s educational contributions focused on assistance in primary and secondary education. Three years later, USAID expanded its assistance to include tertiary education. After consultations, including with UL President Dennis in Washington, USAID established the EHELD Program. The USAID-HED Grant was the direct result of a competitive process established by U.S. President George Bush to enhance collaborations between American and African Universities. Out of a total of 300 joint applications, the application by UL-Indiana University and University of Massachusetts was one of only eleven awards granted. UL remains grateful to the U.S. Government for these opportunities.