For Contributing to Human Resource and Infrastructural Capacity… Njala University Recognizes American Fulbright Professor
By Alhaji Umaru Gbow
Njala University, 29th April, 2021- The Administrative and Academic Staff of Njala University has on Tuesday recognized the contributions of Professor Richard Cooke, a Fulbright and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Agricultural Engineering, School of Technology, Njala University.
The recognition was made at a very brief ceremony held at the University Secretariat, Njala Campus where the Fulbright Professor was handing over State of the Art equipment to support hands-on-deck training of students at the Department.
The ceremony was graced by the Acting Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Freetown, Madam Allison Carter Olson, and other members of the Embassy.
Acting Head of Department Agriculture Engineering, Dr. Mohamed Blango anchored the program thanked Professor Cooke for contributing so much to the capacity building and material support to his Department.
He highlighted the support provided so far by Professor Cooke over the eight times he has visited Njala University and such support according to him has included: supporting him and Dr. Alie Kamara through their research work by visiting a number of areas abroad; supporting a number of workshops on various areas within the department; providing requisite equipment, seed money for the rehabilitation of the soil & water laboratory, supervising of Ph.D. candidates and a lot more.
Acting Dean, Dr. Juana P.Moiwo disclosed that he was impressed with the support rendered so far by Professor Cooke especially in the areas of supporting senior colleagues in their project work.
He expressed the lack of support especially in terms of undertaking practicals at the Department and lauded the support given to Professor Cooke by the United States Embassy and called for the University Administration to take the relationship between Njala University and the University of Illinois to another level.
Professor Cooke in his short and brief remarks appreciated the authorities at Njala University for according him the opportunity to contribute to the transformation of Njala University.
He disclosed that he had felled in love with Njala University and wants to hugely contribute to its potentials through the empowerment of Smallholder producers to make them profitable.
The Fulbright Professor highlighted a number of projects he is doing at Njala and the nearby villages such as the water project at Kainaya and indicated his passion for humanity.
Acting Publicity Affairs Officer at the US Embassy, Madam Allison Carter Olson gave the background to the Introduction of the Fulbright Act in the United States and the impact the Fulbright program has today contributed to the building of a rich human resource in Sierra Leone and across the world.
Madam Olson referred to Professor Cooke as a valued personality in Education, an embodiment of the Fulbright Program who has created meaningful linkages for the United States in Sierra Leone.
University Registrar, Dr. Muneer Jalloh also praised Professor Cooke and the US Embassy for his contributions to Njala University. He underscored the fact that the presence of the Acting Public Affairs Officer at the handing over ceremony was a manifestation of the commitment of the US Embassy to Njala University.
Dr. Jalloh on behalf of the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal gave the assurances of the University to work with the Embassy in future programs and noted that the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principals would have loved to be in the ceremony to further convey his best wishes and appreciation to Professor Cooke and the US Embassy.
He concluded by further reassuring the US Embassy that Professor Cooke is safe and sound at Njala University.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Njala University Professor Mohamed Bashiru Koroma while delivering the keynote Address appealed to the Administration for a number of issues such as the need to establish and symbolize a special house for staff like Professor Cooke and others coming from the University of Illinois, presentation to Senate and the University Court by the Acting Dean of the School of Technology all the wonderful works of Professor Cooke for special recognition by these statutory bodies of the University and many more.
Professor went on to state that doing the above would encourage Professor Cooke and other staff members of the University of Illinois to bring more professors and even centralize their programs at Njala University.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor encouraged staff members of the University especially the Deans to work collectively with Professor Cooke with a view of tapping his knowledge and proposal to promote smallholder farmers.
He assured the US Embassy that the University would continue to work with them to promote the transformation of the University.
Professor Koroma thanked Professor Cooke and the US Embassy for the support to the infrastructural and materials needs of the Department of Agriculture Engineering.
Dr.Rashid Noah gave the closing statement and appealed for the establishment of a soil and water laboratory due to the increasing numbers of postgraduate students in the discipline.
The climax of the event was the official handing over of equipment worth millions of dollars to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Njala University in the presence of the Acting Pubic Affairs of the US Embassy, Madam Allison Carter Olson, and other senior members of staff of the School of Technology by Professor Cooke.
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