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Scholar Canvasses Strengthening of Town-Gown Relationship

An academic, Professor Wellington Oyibo, has emphasized the need to strengthen and sustain the relationship between the University and the local people with deliberate efforts as the people need critical knowledge power.

Professor Oyibo, Guest Speaker at a recent Town and Gown Seminar of the Department of Biochemistry, Covenant University, said that the motivation of academia should be to make impacts and not benefits. He added that academia should be prepared for the pull from Town and become a vibrant gown-town player.

While presenting a lecture titled “Orientating the Academia for Impactful ‘Gown-Town’ Nexus: Critical Steps”, the Professor and Consultant Medical Parasitologist, African Network for Drugs and Diagnostic Innovation (ANDI) Centre of Excellence for Malaria Diagnosis, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, stated that the changing dynamics of the society needed to be met. These, according to him, included food security, pharmaceutical/nutraceutical products, diagnostics, and vaccines; industrial development; Environmental challenges, and bioterrorism, amongst others.

As a generator of knowledge, he said that the University was responsible for re-orientating job satisfaction and career growth of academics, translating thinking to transactional outputs, and realizing a paradigm change. He said that the paradigm change required planning, preparation, and priority settings at all levels, featuring mentees, supervisors, mentors, and the institution.

Professor Oyibo said that while national and global challenges required innovative ideas for solutions and policy development, the universities, as central institutions of the 21st Century knowledge economies in Africa, are key in moving from an invention and production economy into an innovation and competitive economy.

The Guest Speaker, who noted that the Gown-Town might be showing symptoms of untapped relationship, said that the Gown-Town was important but not fully appreciated and recognized as a slogan. He said there was a great desire for a far more intimate, active, effective and successful relationship as the Town pulled and sometimes felt disappointed with Gown.

He highlighted the rubrics in the academia-people relationship as building trust in society and solving important problems that may become locally and globally complex, which could be resolved by innovation, capacity development and continuous upgrade (keep and improve winning and successful formula). The rubrics also included ideas to reduce inefficiency and cost of production/operations and urgency to impact not beneficial as a defining motivator.

Professor Oyibo impressed the students that global competitiveness was real. As such, they should key into set institutional vision, give mental cooperation, avoid resisting new learning approaches, be active participants in set processes, and ask questions and seek guidance for clarity.

He suggested to faculty members that academic programme design should be a platform for soft skills such as entrepreneurship taught in general university programmes and more specific courses/modules, which should be integrated into research project design. He advised that the process should be driven by supervisors and fully interfaced with the Town component.

Professor Oyibo advised that the intellectual properties of innovators should be properly managed, just as he encouraged the ethics of best practices - honesty, integrity, and transparency.

Earlier in his welcome remark, the Head, Department of Biochemistry, Professor Israel Afolabi, appreciated the Guest Speaker for honouring the invitation to impact the students. He assured the students of a practical seminar considering the academic prowess and rich experience of the Guest Lecturer.

Also at the event were faculty and staff of the Biochemistry Department.


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