The University of Ibadan is the oldest and one of the most prestigious Nigerian universities. This succinctly places the University in the heart of every citizen and always indicates reason people want to have a degree from the University. Recently, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2020 positioned the University with 501-600 category of the best Universities in the world.
In 2015, when he emerged as the 12st Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Idowu Olayinka noted that “We will continue to ensure that UI is globally relevant. We will continue to ensure that it maintains its first position. There will be accelerated development through consultation. We will ensure that it becomes globally competitive and nationally relevant.”
Examining this statement further, our check indicates that Professor Olayinka aligned with his Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which was produced before his selection and distributed to the University Community, especially the staff. Indeed, the University needs to accelerate development considering its place in the Nigerian higher education and Africa. By November 1st, 2020, Professor Olayinka would cease to be the Vice Chancellor of the University. Already, a number of professors have indicated interest in taking over from where will be stopping.
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Our analyst believes that Professor Olayinka has achieved some of the goals and objectives stated in the plan, while some will be left undone considering unexpected situations that occurred at the early and end stages of his Vice Chancellorship. Our examination of the plan shows that a number of the goals and objectives converged and diverged with the intent of accelerating the University development.
The Place of Strong Strategic Leadership
Meanwhile, as new professors jostling for the VC position, this piece aims at highlighting some of the reasons the University cannot do without having leader who will advance the University beyond its present status in terms of human, infrastructure, financial and material capital status. This is essential because the University of Ibadan is indispensable to the Nigerian society and Africans in general. For the University to have continuous sustainable growth in all aspects of academic and non-academic life, the new VC must not only be strategic in planning but also in thinking. It is good to have a good plan. But it takes collective and independent thinking to execute any strategy.
To have people, processes and technologies that deliver value in the University and be at par with others nationally and globally require strategic thinking. Without this, inclusive cultural life, knowledge and research outputs cannot be felt. Having adequate fund through grants from corporate organisations and individuals requires strategic thinking not only planning. Strategic thinking that leaves no one behind.
According to the outgoing Vice Chancellor, “For improvement, we need resources, more importantly, to be able to compete very well with the private universities, which is currently more strategic. Government alone cannot adequately fund education, particularly universities, and that is why we are looking inward.
For us, we have even improved. In the ranking before this one, UI was 801-1000. I also have the idea of what they do in Covenant. Maybe they are more strategic than us. There are some programmes we have here, which they don’t even have. Fund is our major problem. For instance, now, I need to employ a minimum of 500 academic staff more. There is hardly any day that I don’t get request from HODs that they need additional staff.”
University Needs Effective Strategies to Tackle Multi-complex Challenges
From Professor Olayinka’s statement, it is obvious that the incoming Vice Chancellor cannot afford to be more strategic in thinking after doing so in his or her plan. To build and sustain a 21st century university needs more than null hypotheses. The incoming Vice Chancellor must be able to create alternate hypotheses in every situation and be aggressive in generating both qualitative and quantitative data for analysis and meaningful insights generation towards making effective decisi0ns.
In other words, the University of Ibadan needs a Vice Chancellor, who will go beyond the current landscape, questions assumptions and think critically and analytically. If need be, assistance of professionals in industries and sectors should be sought. For effective and sustainable learning environment, the University of Ibadan needs a Vice Chancellor, who will study and explore cultural differences of the students and staff for peaceful coexistence and productivity.
Exhibit 1: Key Issues and Needed Strategic Skills