The four year term of the Vice- Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone Prof. Albert Aiah Gbakima ends on Friday 31st July, 2009.
The Vice-Chancellor took up appointment on August 1, 2005 and during his term as Vice- Chancellor and Principal of the University; many changes were made within the University. At FBC, he renovated the Board room to standard and secured a 100 KVA generator that provides eight hour electricity to the College.
He also facilitated the rehabilitation of the Kennedy Building and the introduction of a course on architecture and an M.A programme at the faculty of Mass Communication.
At the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, he facilitated the construction of additional structures at Kossoh Town to contain libraries and lecture rooms and upgraded the School of Nursing to a faculty to read degree courses. He also pioneered the Gbondapi malaria project which is being funded by WHO.
At IPAM, he secured a 20 acre land at Kent for the establishment of a campus and boosted the income generation of the College through the introduction of short courses and on the whole, he computerized the accounting system of the University.
Although he achieved all that, he could be rated as the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University that witnessed the highest number of industrial actions against the University by both academic and junior staff.
Some University authorities have accused him as temperamental and that strained his relationship with senior members and especially junior staff members. Some still question how he was appointed as they stated that he was at the time an Associate Professor not qualified for the post.
To prove how bad his relationship is with the staff at the University, the assessment forms given out by the University search committee to evaluate Prof. Gbakima proved that negatively against him. He was once described by one junior staff during one strike action as a financial burden to the University.
At the moment, there is nobody that is qualified for the job within the country to replace Prof. Gbakima. To make it more complex and worrying for him, the University Court has not indicated to him as yet whether they will renew his stay or not. If that remains so till the end of his term on Friday, there will be an interregnum.
It is said that in the case of an interregnum, the Pro- Vice Chancellor of the University who is Prof. Sahr Ngevao of COMAHS may be asked to act in that capacity but unfortunately, the term of the Pro Vice Chancellor will also end on Friday as the Vice -Chancellor.
The question now on the minds of many is who is to succeed Prof. Gbakima and should his term be extended, what will be the status of his relationship with the staff of the University. By Ishmael Bayoh