BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AME ZION UNIVERSITY
The AME Zion University commenced in 1983 with the founding of the AME Zion School of Business Studies attached to the AME Zion Academy, a high school owned by the AME Zion Church. In 1987, the AME Zion Community College was established, offering Associate degrees in Criminal Justice Administration and Law Enforcement, Liberal Arts, Business Administration, Diploma in Trauma Counseling, and Computer Science, and held its first Annual Convocation on May 22, 1989. The AME Zion Community College at the time had the best Computer Science Laboratory in the Country.
In 1996 by an Act of the National Legislature, the AME Zion University was established with the Reverend Frederick Umoja, serving as its first President.
In January 1999, the Rev. Dr. Frank K.M. Zormelo was inducted as the second President of the University. In August 2001, a year and a half later, the Rev. Dr. Mulbah B. Gray, Sr. was appointed the third President. He is the first native Liberian to become President of the AME Zion University; prior to his appointment, he served as the University’s Vice President for Administration.
The University, which is operated by the AME Zion Church, currently has seven colleges, namely:
Wilfred E. Clarke College of Criminal Justice Administration and Law Enforcement
Andrew Cartwright College of Business and Public Administration
Reuben L. Speaks College of Liberal Arts
.Bishop Warren M. Brown College of Divinity
Alicia Smith-Lartey College of Education
College of General Studies awarding degrees in continuing Education
College of Agriculture awarding Associate of Arts degree in Agriculture.
Except for the College of Agriculture, the University currently offers Bachelor Degrees in all of its programs. It has enrolled over 30,000 students and graduated over 10,000 students.
The AME Zion University has a great deal of challenges and opportunities ahead in the reconstruction of a new Liberia in the 21st Century. It hopes to expand and develop new programs to meet the nation’s needs. It is committed to responding adequately to the nation’s need for high manpower development that will spearhead and also guarantee Liberia’s sustainable development by strengthening and expanding its academic programs and making them relevant to the demands of the third millennium.
The AME Zion Church owns 100 acres of land in Po-River, Vincent Town, Bomi County, which was donated by the Late Bishop and Mrs. Solomon Dorme Lartey. This legacy of Bishop and Mrs. Lartey had several buildings which were heavily looted and damaged during the Civil War in Liberia. The University has taken the following Post-War rehabilitation actions at the Po River sites:
• Renovated the administrative offices, and completed the furnishing;
•Renovated the academic building, and completed the furnishing;
•Constructed an annex to the academic building;
•Constructed a graduation podium;
•Constructed a generator house;
•Constructed a water system;
•Installed a 105 KVA generator and a 5 KVA generator.
•Processed the Land Deed and re-surveyed the 100 acres of land in Po-River.
•Adopted the Master Plan for a new modern campus at Po-River.
Prior to the fourteen (14) years of Civil War, (1989-2003) the A.M.E. Zion University operated in rented buildings and continued until 2003, when the war ended. Due to the massive damage done to the educational facilities of all institutions of Higher Learning during the war, over-crowdedness and financial constraints accelerated plans to relocate partially to the future permanent site in Po-River, Vincent Town, Bomi County, about ten (10) kilometers from the capital city (Monrovia).
The current enrollment is 4,031 students. Statistics show an increase in growth rate of 340 students per annum; therefore, in the next five (5) years we project approximately 12,500 students to be enrolled. We must prepare ourselves for this projection.
One thing that has distinguished the A.M.E. Zion University from other Institutions of Higher Learning in the country is that it is the only Institution of Higher Learning offering a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice Administration and Law Enforcement. The A.M.E. Zion University is recognized and accredited by the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) in Liberia, and also a founding member of the Association of Liberian Universities (ALU). The University also has partnership agreements with the Obafemi Awolowo University in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, United States of America.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the A.M.E. Zion University and Presiding Prelate of the Western West Africa Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, comprising Liberia, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo, the Rt. Reverend Dr. Seth O. Lartey has emphasized the need for education to form a part of his developmental agenda of the Episcopal targeted areas of concentration. The construction of a new A.M.E. Zion University is therefore a major Episcopal District Project. Already, a blue print for the construction and complete transformation of the university’s campus has been approved by the Board of Trustees.
Constraints and Prospect
The A.M.E. Zion University has the potential to become one of the nation’s best Institutions of Higher Learning. However, the university is still faced with a plethora of constraints which need to be addressed appropriately. These include but are not limited to:
Building structures, water supply system, electricity supply, class rooms, thus the urgent need for the construction of a new University Campus
Establishment of faculty/staff and Student Welfare Programs
The civil war in Liberia from 1989 to 2003 affected the political, social and economic lives of the citizenry. All public and private educational institutions, libraries, research centers and laboratories were looted and destroyed. University campuses which were not destroyed were either occupied by internally displaced persons or used as military base for combatants. Many lecturers, support staff and students were killed, internally displaced, or forced into exile. Most devastatingly, the requisite data base for appropriate educational planning was destroyed.
Tertiary education in Liberia has witnessed many problems: instructional personnel are too few and many class sizes are above average. There are insufficient numbers of classes, and the learning environment is generally not conducive to the learning process. Research activities are minimal, library resources remain inadequate, laboratory equipment and materials are not available or are of low quality and quantity, the quality of students admitted is low and many require remediation. The cost of tertiary education for many Liberians is prohibitive, especially in private institutions. Instructional personnel have few incentives and shuffle between campuses to earn more income.
Our ultimate aim is to ensure that immediate attention is given to these areas if we are to take the university to the next level. We are also hopeful that greater opportunities such as an increase in student enrollment, faculty and staff development, active research programs, job satisfaction and quality education will be achieved.
Liberian students who studied out of the country are offered employment opportunities upon graduation. Many of these graduates accept the job offers, causing them not to return to Liberia, and subsequently causing a brain drain. This in turn causes skills shortage resulting in inadequate supply of teachers and academics. Without these professionals, the teaching cadre is small and the country is unable to offer adequate study opportunities. Another component of the brain drain is caused by established professionals in Liberia moving to “greener pastures” in America, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and other parts of the world. Another vicious circle is thus realized.
In order to realize this vision, the following initiatives will be pursued:
⦁ A science park and a state of the art laboratory will be built for research purpose to accommodate researchers in the sub-region and beyond;
1 A regional hub for telecommunications networks;
2 Post Graduate Program in Criminal justice Aministration
3 Survey Program to train next generation of Surveyors in West Africa. Eight (8) month Courses to Award Diploma/Certificate.
4 An exchange program to
⦁ host international Professors, Students, and experts in various disciplines especially in the field of Criminal Justice;
1 Provide access for local criminal justice experts, theologians, accountant, managers, and scientists to international facilities in these disciplines around the World.
⦁ A Heritage Centre focused on Integration and consolidation of indigenous knowledge systems; Commercialization of traditional medicine; intellectual Property Rights.
1 Establishment of a research program in agriculture and pharmaceuticals ;
2 Establishment of a “learning laboratory” to embed the knowledge applied in establishing the university (including physical construction and project financing);
3 Establish a state of the art forensic laboratory to not only train our students but to serve as a reference/research center in Liberia and the Sub-region
4 Partnerships with world-class universities to ensure quality in the design of the curriculum including the learning/teaching and research programs.
An in-depth study has already been carried out to establish the feasibility and sustainability of these units within the proposed university construction project, as well as to map out the strategy for the building of the University. The following structures and/or facilities will be erected on the 100 acres of land own by the AME Zion University:
Buildings for a New Campus:
1. Administration Building
a. President Office suite
b. Board of Trustees Meeting Room
c. Academic Affairs Suite
d. Registrar Suite
e. Business and Finance Suite
f. Planning and Institutional Advancement Suite
g. Information Technology Suite
a. Text books, Reference and Research
b. Computer Labs
3. Campus Clinic
4. Student Affairs Building
a. Student Affairs Suite
b. Enrollment Management Suite
c. Dean of Student Suite
d. Student Services Suite
i. Scholarships Office
ii. Tutoring Services Suite
5. Science and Engineering Complex
a. Math and Computer Science offices and labs
b. Physics and Physical Sciences offices and lab
c. Chemistry offices and labs
d. Forensics offices and labs
e. Engineering offices and labs
g. Computer Labs
h. Mini Auditorium
6. Social Science, Art, and Humanities Complex
a. Social Sciences Offices
b. Behavioral Sciences Suite
c. Humanities Suite
d. Fine Arts Suite including music rooms and Art Labs
f. Computer Labs including Writing Labs
g. Mini Auditorium
7. Education Building
a. Teacher Education offices
b. Exercise Science Offices and labs
c. Human Performance Offices and labs
e. Computer Labs
f. Mini Auditorium
8. Business Building
a. Business Administration Suite
c. Computer Labs
d. Mini Auditorium
9. Health Sciences Complex
a. Nursing (LPN, RN, BSN)
b. Dental Hygiene
c. Public Health
d. Computer Labs
10. Agriculture and Food Sciences Building
a. Agriculture and Food Sciences Offices
b. Soil Labs
c. Food Labs
d. Computer Labs
e. Mini Auditorium
11. Student Union Building
a. Dean of Student Suite
c. Game Room
d. Computer Labs
e. Mini Auditorium
12. Classroom Building (only classrooms)
b. Computer Labs
13. Large Auditorium
(Could be attached to student union or classroom building)
14. Athletics Complex
a. Athletic Suite
b. Exercise Rooms
c. Sporting venues with spectator seating
ii. Running Track
15. Chapel or Church Building
16. Power Generation Building
17. Student Residence Hall Buildings
18. Faculty Housing