Dust Settles at Cuttington as Faculty Association Reconsiders Returning to the Classroom

SUAKOKO, Bong – The Cuttington University Faculty Association has announced that its members will return to work following a settlement with Herman Browne, the reinstated president of the university.

The president of the faculty association, Lepolu Torlon, made the pronouncement in an interview on Friday in Gbarnga. He said members of CUFA had met and finalized discussions with Browne about the way forward to put an end to the stalemate that has existed at the university since May this year.

Torlon had earlier announced an unwillingness to work with Browne following his reinstatement by Cuttington’s Board of Trustees.

Browne was suspended in May indefinitely by the Board of Trustees of the university following protests by students and faculty.

Limited electricity supply for students and faculty members, unfavorable living conditions, and delays in salary payment to lecturers and other support staff were factors that triggered sporadic protests on the main campus of the university in May this year.

“When there are wars, it has to end on the dialogue table. There has to be a resolution, no matter how long the war lasts,” Torlon said. “No matter how long we fight, it is the citizens that suffer. At Cuttington, our citizens are the students.”

Torlon said their decision to return to class was based on several counts that Browne agreed to consider.

He said the faculty and Browne agreed that lecturers who are contractors would be granted full employment and that no one would be targeted for their role during the conflict.

“I just want to encourage our colleagues to return to classes on Monday, and I want to encourage parents to have no fear; you can continue to register your children. We are prepared and ready to begin instructional activities effective Monday,” Torlon said.

Browne recently acknowledged that in the past, he had not clearly communicated the rationale of some decisions and stances he took as administrator. He said this may have contributed to the disenchantment among students and faculty members.

“In this respect, that as much as it is possible with as many persons as necessary, we will take time [to communicate] how decisions are made,” Browne said. “We will talk and over talk and extend the range and the scope of our consultations.”

The secretary of the Board of Trustees, Benoni Urey, assured the students and faculty that the board is concerned about their issues, but noted that it would require time and money to effectively address the concerns.

Browne apologized to the faculty and students for his actions and promised to more consultative in leading the university to ensure peaceful coexistence among faculty members, students, and the administration.

The decision of the faculty association to return to the classroom is being appreciated by citizens and students of Cuttington University.

The former mayor of Gbarnga, Viola Cooper, lauded the leadership of the faculty association for reconsidering their earlier decision not to work with Browne.

“I just want to say thank you so much to Torlon and his colleagues for listening to our appeals to return to teach our children,” Cooper told Radio Gbarnga Friday morning in a phone interview.

She encouraged Browne to work with the board in addressing the concerns of the faculty and students.

Emmanuel Gesee, a student of the university, congratulated the students for exercising maturity and welcomed them on campus as they begin another semester.

He wrote: “For me this time everyone should be given a second chance; while consultations should be our major priority! Without consultation, you’re like an army without a frontline map key. This time, we need genuine sustainability of peace on Cuttington. God bless!”

Featured photo by Emmanuel Gesee

Moses Bailey

Moses started his journalism career in 2010 as a reporter at Radio Gbarnga. In 2011, the Press Union of Liberia recognized him as the Human Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2017, he was the Development Reporter of the Year. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow. Moses is also the regional coordinator for NAYMOTE-Liberia, an organization working with youth to promote democratic governance.

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