prof olusola oyewole - vcThe Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole, has described Professors in the University as vital to the attainment of a world-class status for FUNAAB. The Vice-Chancellor disclosed this during a 2-day Professorial Retreat, held in the University and coordinated by the Directorate of Grants Management, with the theme “Grant-Winning Professors and Strategic Mentoring”. The Vice-Chancellor noted that there was no way a university could be categorised as world-class, without having world-class Professors.

He stressed that the strength of the university depended on the quality of its Professors, adding that, world-class Professors have academic integrity through adhering to strict academic ethics, are widely travelled, well known, are being cited in current developments in their fields and are outstanding in research, teaching and community service. Professor Oyewole tasked the University Professors not to rest on their oars because they have achieved the Professorial status, but think globally and act locally.

Guest speakers at the retreat include the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development), Professor Ololade Enikuomehin, who spoke on the topic, “Rethinking Postgraduate Supervision in FUNAAB: Key Issues and Strategic Options”, where he described postgraduate studies as “providing creative, adaptive graduates with ability, skill and competencies required for meaningful impact in different vocations, professions or endeavours” and putting in place, the appropriate policy framework, implementation, evaluation and routine re-evaluation of outcomes. He took the audience through the FUNAAB postgraduate supervision model and gave suggestions of issues to be reviewed such as policy, research and developmental issues. Professor Enikuomehin concluded by saying that the development and success of postgraduate education in FUNAAB was the business of everyone, Stressing that “tangible outcomes of the discourse can only be valuable if words translate to actions”.

In the second presentation titled, “Grants Management and Postgraduate Mentoring: Experience from My Works”, the Dean of the College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC), Professor Lateef Sanni, stressed that selecting a good team member is the bedrock of every successful mentoring. He said that in selecting team members, it should be made up of good people with the right skills, right partnership and right opportunity. Professor Sanni added that in winning grants, those involved in the project are very important to the grant provider because a grant is an investment, not a contract, saying grant providers have strict guidelines which include education, gender, age, nationality, scientific track-record, specific expertise, appropriate percentage of committed effort and the use of consultants to fill in the gap.

He also stressed the need for monitoring and evaluation during project management; time and cost saving; mutual trust; and professionalism. Professor Sanni, a Professor of Food Science and Technology, berated the low impact FUNAAB was having in the south-west in terms of food production and agricultural research. On his personal experiences and collaborations, he listed the major achievements of his team members and mentees in the development of partnerships between international researchers in Europe, Africa, private sector, rural processors, small and medium scale enterprises, in order to bridge the gap between primary local processing and urban demand.

He added that in partnership with a local fabricator, two dryers were made for producers in West Africa; through partnerships/linkages, 34 had been manufactured; and a private sector training centre was established for cassava processing in Nigeria for the training of local businesses, professionals and post-graduate students. Others include the development of linkages with international organisations (such as the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture) on cassava processing and the training of local processors; regulatory agencies; and research institutions; developing food safety training manual for small and medium enterprises; and the establishment of consumer acceptability in major urban locations in West Africa, to develop products that meet their needs.

The Vice-Chancellor of the Augustine University, Ilara-Epe, Lagos State, Professor Steve Afolami, gave the third presentation on, “Step By Step Guide for Strategic Postgraduate Mentoring in Nigerian Universities”, where he defined supervision, mentoring and apprenticeship. He stated that a mentor is also a supervisor; who establishes cordial relationship that fosters confidence and harmony in such a way that the student is able to work within the framework of partnership in progress, adding that an apprentice is equally a learner except that in most cases, the student receives no pay from his teacher while the apprentice does. He disclosed further that an apprentice is highly subservient to his/her teacher, whereas, subservience is unhealthy for postgraduate training; a style he said was commonly obtainable in Nigeria. Professor Afolami recommended that postgraduate training should embrace mentoring rather than either supervision or apprenticeship.

The last speaker was the Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Greenwich, United Kingdom, Professor Andrew Westby, with the presentation titled, “Academic Leadership, Grants Winning and Management in World-Class Universities”, where he defined a proposal as the request for financial assistance to implement a project with funding being sought, in whole or in part, from government funding-agencies, charitable foundations, businesses and individuals. Professor Westby said, “Proposal writing is a skill that can be learned and it requires knowledge in many disciplines beyond the core expertise, e.g. budgets and projects management. Without writing skills, your organisation will not obtain funding required to carry out research and developmental projects”.

He said effective proposals required some elements which include, content development; demonstration of scientific, economic, and social benefits; satisfying programme criteria; addressing funding agencies requirements; proper formatting/language; demonstrating the sustainability of the project’s output; monitoring and evaluation provisions; budgeting; and administrative/ financial capacity/experience. He also noted that a good research proposal also entailed proper referencing of other documentations and citations; demonstrates that it could provide scientific/economic/social benefits; have high probability for success; addresses strategic priority, that is, relevance to donor; consistent with research and development strategies; demonstrate need for financial assistance; and be economically-viable, among others.

The retreat was wrapped-up by the Director, Grants Management and the convener of the programme, Professor Kolawole Adebayo by coordinating the response section with a talk on “Strategic Options for Developing Grants-Winning Professors and Post Graduate Mentees”.