In his congregation speech, the Vice Chancellor of the university-Professor Joseph Alimamy Turay welcomed all and sundry to the august gathering. He acknowledged the exemplary roles exercised by other universities within the country, and commented on the recently inaugurated committee of vice chancellors and principles of higher education institutions in Sierra Leone, which he said will be a platform for the formulation of combined policies and practices in the learning environment.
He expressed profound appreciation to the board of trustees of UNIMAK, for reposing the utmost confidence in him to serve as vice chancellor for the next five years-commencing 2016/2017 academic year. He proudly affirmed that he would continue to perform his responsibilities diligently.
Professor Turay gave a brief background of the university, stating that it came into being after the civil conflict in Sierra Leone; in a bid to address the root causes of the war especially on wrong economic, governance and social policies.
Speaking on the new strategic plan of the university, the VC said that they have designed a current strategic plan for the next five years, and it will focus in attaining excellence in academic formation, research and community engagement through strengthening existing courses and introducing relevant disciplines in science and technology; improving staff capacity among other relevant issues.
He congratulated the graduates for an effort well done. In a special way, he also commended the first cohorts of MBA students in Impact Entrepreneurship, as well as students of Agriculture and Food Sciences. He went further to state that the education acquired by the 297 graduates is to prepare the enabling path to facilitate innovation, creativity, and ability to create jobs rather than seeking for jobs. With these, he added, are among the core values and mindset for major structural reforms not only for Sierra Leone, but also the continent at large.
The pro Chancellor of UNIMAK, Professor Sahr Gbamanja spoke on the outstanding role of Prof Turay over the years, in nurturing the institution from an institute to an enviable university in the country.
He commented on the university council stating that it comprises high caliber of eminent personalities including the deputy Education Minister, two erudite university professors, proactive paramount chiefs, city mayor of Makeni and others.
He wholeheartedly congratulated the graduates on behalf of the governing council as they are leaving for the wider society where they would find things in a different dimension; and meanwhile discovered that employment opportunities are slim and only the best can make an edge on the job market. He therefore, urged them to use their acquired skills to improve themselves.
Delivering his keynote speech, Bishop Emeritus George Beguzzi reflected on his priesthood carrier whilst at St. Francis Secondary School in Makeni, about 42 years ago as a teacher.
He cited the rebel incursion in Sierra Leone and after that brutal experience, the church thought of ways of rebranding the minds of young people and the establishment of the Fatima Institute was borne.
Few years after its existence, he informed all that the institute finally gains a university status in 2009; and today it has not only become the pride of Makeni, but the pride of Sierra Leone. Bishop Emeritus Beguzzi continued that the direction society will take depends on the hearts and minds that universities will create today.
He urged all especially graduates to strive for intellectual and moral excellence and also make a difference if a better society is to be achieved.
The conferring of degrees to graduates and issuing of outstanding awards to best performing students heightened the ceremony.