Following months of bickering, opposition and rejection by members of the University of Liberia Faculty Association (ULFA) over the appointment of Dr. Al Hassan Conteh, as president of the nation’s highest institution of learning, the faculty members have finally backed-off and overwhelmingly endorsed his appointment.
The long running leadership crisis at the university finally came to an amicable conclusion on 18 October during a well attended meeting held at the auditorium of the university, with 74 to zero voting in favor of Dr. Conteh’s presidency.
The meeting chaired by the Acting President, Dr. James Kollie, was conducted under cordial atmosphere.
With this latest decision, Dr. Conteh is now comfortably seated to administer the affairs of the university which is in dire need of needed assistance including competence and qualified professors, books, an enabling learning environment, seating capacity, better health care, transportation, modern curriculum and better salary for the staff.
At the end of the meeting, the faculty adopted a resolution that, among other things said the chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia and Visitor to the University of Liberia has the sole authority to nominate and appoint the president of the university.
The resolution also called on the Heads of State to complete the constitution of the Board of trustees in consonance with Article 3, section 1 of the UL Chapter and appeal to Chairman Bryant to give serious consideration to the improvement of salaries and benefits.
These benefits include the reinstitution of the research allowance, reactivation of the insurance scheme and the contribution of seed money for the establishment of the Faculty Credit Union, the UL faculty association statement concluded.
Immediately after the meeting, the caretaker president, Dr. Kollie, for the first time granted journalists interview to break a long silence on the situation at the university.
In an interview that was wildly carried but both the various radio stations and local dailies, Dr. Kollie said that he is willing and prepared to work with the newly appointed president. He also said Dr. Conteh’s appointment is in consonance with the UL Chapter and was on the basic of merit, adding that the University Chapter gives the Visitor the exclusive rights to appoint the president on the basic of merit, while the Board of Trustees have the rights to reject or endorse such appointment.
Making reference to Article 4 and Provisions of the chapter, Dr. Kollie said: "I was only appointed by Chairman Bryant to act pending the appointment of a president", he noted, saying that he has served for nine months.
In a reconciliatory mood, Dr. Kollie appealed to some members of the Faculty association who were against Dr. Conteh’s appointment to respect the view of others who voted in favor of the appointment. "Let us accept the Visitor’s appointee, it is legally done and it’s legitimate, let us accept our own laws", Dr. Kollie propounded.
In order to peacefully resolved the crisis at the university, Chairman Bryant on several occasions met with the faculty representatives at the Executive Mansion, during which he appealed to them to work with Dr. Conteh. He also asked the ULFA to recommend two names to him for appointment for the positions of Vice President for Administration and Academic affairs.
Earlier, the faculty representative rejected the request and demanded that they recommend the president; something Chairman Bryant said was irreversible.
According to reports, the intervention of religious leaders under the leadership of Sheikh Kafumba Konneh was instrumental in brokering a peaceful resolution.