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Friday, July 19, 2024

PRES. BOAKAI RELIEVES DR. JULIUS NELSON AS UNIVERSITY OF LIBERIA PRESIDENT AMID FACULTY STRIKE

Date:

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – President Joseph N. Boakai has relieved Dr. Julius J.S. Nelson of his position as President of the University of Liberia, effective immediately. According to an Executive Mansion press release issued on Monday, June 24, 2024, President Boakai, acting as the Visitor to the University, made this decision after several meetings with the Institution’s Board of Trustees and various stakeholders.

In the meantime, the President has appointed former University of Liberia President, Ambassador Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh, as Acting President to lead the Interim Management Team. The Board nominated Dr. Conteh unanimously to oversee the search process for a new University President within three months. The Interim Management Team will also initiate necessary reforms and implement the action points conveyed by the President to ensure the University’s smooth operation.

The University of Liberia has recently been embroiled in strike action from the University of Liberia Faculty and Staff Association (ULFASA). In a press release issued on Monday, June 24, 2024, ULFASA informed its members that no decision has been made to return to activities. The release, dated June 23 and signed by the ULFASA Secretariat, reminded members that the decision to resume administrative and academic activities rests solely with the Combined General Assembly.

ULFASA highlighted a productive meeting with President Boakai on Friday, June 21, 2024, where the President promised to restore dignity to the university and take immediate actions to ensure normalcy returns to the institution. However, ULFASA urged everyone to await further instructions from their leadership before resuming any activities. The association is awaiting necessary pronouncements from the Board of Trustees (BoT) to begin addressing their demands. ULFASA emphasized that all members should stay away from all campuses and keep offices closed until further notice. The association stressed that there would be no access to any administrative or academic buildings.

Directors and deans were warned not to compel any staff or faculty to go against this unanimous decision, with the Executive Committee of ULFASA prepared to take additional measures to ensure member safety from any retaliatory actions. The strike, which began on June 14, 2024, was unanimously decided at a General Assembly meeting held at the University of Liberia’s main campus in Monrovia. It is a response to ongoing grievances, including delayed salary payments for part-time lecturers, poor working and learning conditions, and the administration’s failure to meet previously agreed-upon demands.

ULFASA has also called for the resignation of UL President Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson and his administration, holding them accountable for the unresolved issues. “The current situation is untenable,” stated a ULFASA representative during the assembly. “Our part-time lecturers have not received their salaries on time, the working and learning conditions are poor, and the administration has continuously failed to honor our agreements. We can no longer stand by while these issues persist.”

ULFASA issued a stern warning to all lecturers to stay away from the university premises and threatened action against any departments that defy this directive. This strike, coinciding with the students’ final exam period, could significantly impact their academic progress. The faculty and staff’s frustration has reached a boiling point, leading to this drastic measure. ULFASA’s demands for better conditions and timely salary payments have been ongoing, but little progress has been made.

“The administration’s neglect of our demands is unacceptable,” said another ULFASA member. “We are committed to providing quality education, but we cannot do so under these conditions. It is time for Dr. Nelson and his administration to step down and make way for leadership that will prioritize the needs of both staff and students.”

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