The second and third convocation ceremonies of the University of Medical Sciences Ondo (UNIMED) holds on Wednesday, February 2 with award of first degree to 252 graduating students.
The event holds at the Odosida hall of the University by 10am.
Prof. Adesegun Fatusi in a press briefing on Monday disclosed that the convocation lecture would be delivered by Prof Oyewale Tomori, FAS, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the Redeemers’ University and past President of the Nigerian Academy of Science.
Prof. Fatusi added that the commissioning of three building projects at the Laje Medical Village Campus of the institution would be done.
“In addition, we shall be conferring UNIMED Heroes Award on four distinguished Nigerians who are great supporters of our University’s developmental agenda. These are: They are: (i) Chief Olu Akinkugbe, OON, OFR; (ii) Prof. Tolu Odugbemi FAS, FNAMed; (iii) Honourable Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, Member of the House of Representative representing Akoko North-East/Akoko North-West Federal Constituency of Ondo State and Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); and (iv) Honourable (Dr.) Abiola Makinde, Member of the House of Representatives for Ondo East and Ondo West Federal Constituency,” Fatusi said.
He gave the statistics of Graduands thus:
“From our modest beginning of 31 graduating students at our first convocation ceremony on 13th December 2019; today, we shall award first degrees to a total of 76 graduands from the 2019/2020 set and 176 from the 2020/2021 set, making a total of 252 graduands. Of these, 6 graduands shall graduate with first-class honours, 106 with second class honours (upper division), 106 with second class honours (lower division), and 11 with third class. In addition, we have 23 Bachelor of Physiotherapy graduands.
“This convocation ceremony shall witness the graduation of the first set of students from our Nursing Science and Physiotherapy programmes, who have already been professionally inducted by their respective registration councils last year and are therefore licensed to practice. I am very delighted that we also have the first set of graduands from our Plant Biology and Biotechnology programmes, who are critical to our agenda on advancing phytomedicine and herbal medicine,” Fatusi noted.
As you may know, the National Universities Commission released the result of the ranking of Nigerian universities on 14 December 2021. I am pleased to inform you that UNIMED is currently ranked the 3rd best of all specialised universities. We only came behind the 40-year-old Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), and 31-year-old Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH). UNIMED also stands out as the 2nd best ranked university in Ondo State (federal, state, private) after FUTA and is the 4th best-ranked state university in the country. Overall, we have the 19th highest ranking of all Nigerian universities. This ranking clearly indicates that we have the best ranking of the growing number of specialised universities of medical and health sciences. Thus, we are not just the first historically as a specialised university of medical sciences, we are simply the best of them all. We give glory to God for this impressive ranking.
Academic Programmes and Institutional structure
Over the last two years, we have strived to build our portfolio of academic programmes. The intention is not only to increase the number of our courses and thereby expand the opportunity for quality tertiary education for the Nigerian youth but also to address key gaps in Nigeria’s health profession training arena. Among others, we are strategically positioning ourselves as the regional centre of excellence in Medical Rehabilitation―an area of significant human resources deficiency in the health sector. In that regard, we have established the first Faculty of Medical Rehabilitation in Nigeria, and we are working towards being the first school to have undergraduate programmes in five areas of medical rehabilitation.
As I have mentioned, we are very keen on advancing phytomedicine and herbal medicine, and we have established a Centre for Herbal Medicine and Drug Discovery for that purpose. Overall, the number of available courses in our university has increased from 14 to 26 in the last two years. It is significant to note that all the 12 new courses were duly resource-verified and approved for take-off by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Indeed, ALL our courses in UNIMED that are mature for accreditation have all been fully accredited by the National University Commission (NUC), including Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Physiotherapy, and Medical Laboratory Sciences. We have also secured the accreditation of relevant professional bodies for ALL programmes relevant to the stage of our programmes.
Today, UNIMED proudly has the record of establishing the first full-fledged School of Public Health in Nigeria. The School, based in Bolorunduro, has four departments, five interdisciplinary centres, and an Institute for Community Health Innovations and Development. In addition to the two undergraduate programmes being presently run, the School shall commence its postgraduate diploma, masters, and doctorate programmes across several fields in public health later this year. The school will also be running certificate- and diploma-level training in various specialised areas. These areas shall include health security, build capacity to mitigate public health incidents such as epidemics and pandemics. We shall also commence our postgraduate programmes in several health-related and basic medical sciences fields such as Molecular Biology, Medical Physics, Medicinal Chemistry, Anatomy, Biochemistry, and Physiology later this year. In addition, our newly established Institute for Advanced Clinical Sciences Education has developed the curriculum for a diploma programme in Medical/Health Law, as well as postgraduate diplomas and degrees in various areas of Clinical Medicine and Dental Sciences. Simply, our goal is to be a ‘one-stop’ institution for all medical and health sciences-related courses.
It is also worthy of note that the University Senate recently approved the establishment of our Centre for Health Professions and Biomedical Education. This Centre shall commence certificate, diploma, and masters programmes in health professions and biomedical education later this year to help address the critical gap in the availability of trained medical and biomedical teachers nationally and regionally. Thus, we not only aim to ensure quality teaching and learning in UNIMED but to also contribute towards improving the quality of teachers and teaching across medical schools in Nigeria and West Africa. Through the benevolence of Chief Olu Akinkugbe, OON, CFR and in partnership with the Olu Akinkugbe Pharmacy Education Trust (OAPET), we look forward to the take-off of our Pharmacy programmes during the next academic session.
UNIMED has recorded significant infrastructural development in the last two years, and we are particularly grateful to the Ondo State Government and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) in that regard. We have added at least nine buildings within Ondo City, in addition to establishing a brand new campus for our School of Public Health in Bolorunduro, Ondo East Local Government Area. As part of this convocation programme, we look forward to the commissioning of three new buildings in our Laje Medical Village campus by our esteemed Governor:
A lecture theatre and classroom complex funded by TETFUND, A staff office complex funded by TETFund and The Faculty of Dental Sciences building, which partly funded through the capital grant from the Ondo State Government.
The other facilities that have been added to our university over the last two years include:
The community library building in Odosida, donated by the Ondo Development Committee (ODC), which we have upgraded to become our Science Laboratory annexe and ICT centre.
A one-storey building constructed through the Friends of UNIMED Fund, and which now hosts our Department of Physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy training complex built by the University through internally generated funds and includes a classroom, gym, and hydrotherapy facility.
A storey-building in UNIMED Teaching Hospital Annex Ondo developed through our partnership with UNIMED Teaching Hospital authority, and which will house our Faculty of Medical Rehabilitation.
The Centre for Molecular Biosciences and Medical Genomics Laboratory in UNIMED Teaching Hospital Annexe Ondo, with ultra-modern facilities and capacity for detection of highly pathogenic viral infections such as COVID-19 and Lassa Fever, as well as conducting high-level molecular and genomic research.
In addition, the groundbreaking of our new permanent site located at Kilometre 5, Laje Road, Ondo City was performed on 5th December 2021 by Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, along with the foundation-laying of the first building―the Olu Akinkugbe Faculty of Pharmacy.
Research Infrastructure and Structure
To advance research activities, we have established relevant structures and infrastructure, such as the Central Office of Research, the Health Research Ethics Committee, and the Central Research and Reference Laboratory. We have also developed the institutional Research Policy, and engaged in staff capacity-building in research methodologies, ethical research conduct and grantsmanship, as well as support participation in conferences. Furthermore, we have also inaugurated an Annual Research Fair, with the first edition taking place on 20th February 2022, by God’s grace.
Our hard-working and enterprising staff have secured several external grants in the last two years, including:
Ford Foundation grant for “Strengthening Programming for Adolescent and Youth through Resource and Knowledge Generation and Link to Evidence (SPARKLE) Project: This $300,000 three-year grant is anchored by the Centre for Adolescent Health and Development of our School of Public Health.
British Council grant for the “Innovation for African Universities” programme. UNIMED is proudly one of the 6 universities in Nigeria and 24 universities in Africa that won this competitive grant that focuses on entrepreneurship and with a first phase funding of 10,000 pounds. We are partnering with Liverpool John Moores University and a youth group (Teenpreneur) on the project.
TETFund National Research Fund: UNIMED staff are currently implementing four research projects totalling about N138 million.
Seeding Lab Instrumental Access Grant Program: In 2021, our University won another round of this grant, which provides high-quality research equipment to recipient universities. UNIMED has now won this competitive grant twice. The new set of equipment will support our cancer research.
Community Partnership and Services
UNIMED has a strong focus on community services as reflected in our motto, ‘For Learning and Community Service.’ Over the last two years, our university has funded an annual debate programme for primary schools in Ondo and initiated the UNIMED Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (U-STEM) programme for secondary school students in 2021. With the theme ‘Enhancing Youth Capacity for Innovation and Societal Development,’ the U-STEM programme provided seed funds to secondary schools students in Ondo to use locally available materials to develop innovative products for the Nigerian population. The first prize of ₦500,000 was won by C.A.C Oke-Isegun secondary school, Ondo, whose students developed a solar-powered cooker.
Our Institute of Community Health Innovations and Development of the School of Public Health has recently developed an innovative and community-owned model of primary health care to improve the health of the people on a sustainable basis. We have launched the pilot programme in Oke-Igbo, and we are also working with Ilu-Titun in our community health project, while our community dental programme in Ile-Oluji will be rolled out this month.
Looking Forward and Moving Ahead
Our priority focus from this point on is the development of our permanent site. Towards that end, we are rolling out the SURGE initiative. SURGE, in our context, is an acronym that stands for ‘Support to UNIMED’s Renaissance, Growth, and Expansion’. This is an initiative aimed at ensuring that UNIMED is fully settled and operational on its permanent site by its 10th anniversary on 8th December 2024. As part of the action plan for the SURGE initiative, our Council has approved the UNIMED Advancement Foundation, with selected distinguished Nigerians as members of its Board. We shall also reinvigorate the Friends of UNIMED Fund and inaugurate a Board for it. Along with these initiatives, we shall vigorously pursue an agenda for improved internal revenue generation. Already, we have registered the University of Medical Sciences Investment and Consultancy Services with the Corporate Affairs Commission and put in place a Board headed by Chief (Dr.) Isaac Akintade, a highly successful and distinguished businessman. We will roll out some of the highly promising ventures proposed by the Board this year, by God’s great grace. I strongly believe that these initiatives will make UNIMED stronger economically and experience more rapid infrastructural development.
Financing a university is a capital-intensive business and growing a new university is particularly resource-demanding. Also, the needs are far greater for a specialised university that focuses on the medical profession and related health sciences, than a conventional university. Yet, within the lean economic situation of the state, the Ondo State Government has remained doggedly committed to the development of this university. On behalf of the university, We are deeply grateful to our Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, and his government for unwavering support on official and personal levels.
I hereby use this opportunity to call on well-meaning individuals and corporate organisations, to come and partner with us to take UNIMED to the next level. Investments in UNIMED bring lifelong honour, as we immortalise our benefactors by naming buildings and other infrastructures on our campus after them. These investments would also result in inter-generational impacts.
On this note, I want to bring this address to an end. Thank you for your attention.
Vice-Chancellor, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo
2nd February 2022