Since becoming President of the University of Liberia in 2008, Dr. Emmet A. Dennis has split his time between running the institution and finding external support from partners and donors to close the funding gap often left behind by Government’s limited budgetary subsidy.
Now, thanks to Dr. Dennis’ leadership, another external support has come to the university. As with two previous ones, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under its Legal Professional Development and Anti-Corruption Project (LPAC) has entered a Memorandum of Corporation with the University of Liberia to support the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law. The signing, which took place on Wednesday, July 20, could not have come at a better time for the Law School and its new Dean Counselor T. Negbalee Warner, who is determined to build upon the strong foundation left by his predecessor. Speaking before the actual signing, Dean Warner said he was very delighted that an agreement has finally been reached and a one structured in a way that it marches almost all the programs of the Law School. “It is a very welcoming not only because of what is inside but the thought and the design of the program. The thought you can recognize the University of Liberia particularly its Law School as a critical institution that needs institutional and human capacity development,” Dean Warner said. “That you have structured the program that it addresses almost all of the key areas that you could help us. We recognize that this agreement is an outline of expectations, a framework for cooperation which leaves room for us to work out the detail.” For his part, Dr Dennis hailed the qualitative profile of both faculty and students of the law school. “Over the past six years, the institution has grown particular in quality. The quality of the students admitted to the Law School now is by far better than a few years ago and that pleases me very much,” he said. “The qualitative profile of the faculty has increased tremendously. Seven years ago, the Law School had just a few with an LLM Degree—something around four or five—now we have about 22.” He used the occasion to brief USAID and others on the overall academic qualitative development of the university, disclosing that during the past six years, several faculty members were sent abroad for further studies, and currently, he said 60 of them have completed their studies and have returned. Dr Dennis then commended USAID for its support to the university and the Law School in particular for the new agreement. “First let me thank USAID for yet another farsightedness,” he said. “I say another because I have been privileged to enjoy two previous ones. The MOC we are about to sign between the Law School is very comprehensive and seeks to build the capacity of our Law School much beyond its present capacity.” In response, Dr. Anthony S. Chan, Mission Director, USAID/Liberia said USAID was committed to work with the Law School to achieve this goal and many other goals set by its new Dean. “I understand that a key priority for the Law School is modernizing its curriculum so that its graduates can fully practice their craft in the service to clients in an increasingly competitive world,” he said. “We look forward to working with all of you together so we can strive to achieve this goal and the many other goals your new Dean has set for you.” The program ended with a tour of the facilities of the Law School by the USAID and the LPAC representatives.