Sunday, June 26, 2016 01:00
Tuskegee University, BWI Renew Ties
The President of the Tuskegee University in the United States of America, Dr. Gilbert Rochon has assured the Administration of the Booker Washington Institute, BWI in Kakata City, Margibi County of plans to renew its ties with the institution.
Reflecting on the historic ties between the two institutions, Dr. Rochon lamented on the urging need to renew the long existing traditional ties between the two sisterly learning institutions and indicated his initial contacts with representatives of the Phelps – Stoke Foundation for the re- establishment of its support to the Booker Washington Institute.
According to the Liberia News Agency, Dr. Gilbert Rochon made the statement over the weekend on the main campus of BWI in Kakata during a stopover visit at the institution.
The Phelps – Stokes Foundation was originally the main source of funding that led to the establishment of the Booker Washington Institute in 1929 as a result of a question posed to President Charles Dunbar Burgess King by an American journalist at the end of his state visit as to “what could be the best thing to take back home, and he answered saying; “If he could take Tuskegee University to Africa, he would love to see it in his home country, Liberia”.
In a meeting between Dr. Rochon and the Phelps Stokes Foundation, the foundation indicated their willingness and interest in wanting to assist Tuskegee and BWI to re-link.
They also discussed the establishment of a community college and a “matriculating agreement” that will allow students from BWI and the community college go on to matriculate to the Tuskegee University to obtain their Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees.
Dr. Gilbert Rochon said Dr. Booker T. Washington in whose name the Booker Washington Institute is named in honor is also the founder of the Tuskegee University and he is the sixth President of that University since 1881.
Dr. Rochon further revealed during his visit to BWI that he grew keen interest after reading a newspaper article in a local American daily of President Sirleaf's ardent desire to strengthen vocational institutions in Liberia and specifically mentioning Booker Washington Institution for which he has come to see and have a hand on information on the institution as the Tuskegee University and the Booker Washington Institution were both founded by Dr. Booker T. Washington.
He said following the founding of the Tuskegee University, Dr. Booker T. Washington served as President of Tuskegee University for 34 unbroken years.
Earlier in his welcome and special statement, the Principal of B.W.I, Mulbah Jackollie, expressed his profound gratitude to Doctor Gilbert Rochon for championing the cause of re-linking and renewing the long existing relationships between the Booker Washington Institute and the Tuskegee University.
Principal Jackollie indicated that the visit of the President of Tuskegee University was a day worth celebrating for it to re-link B.W.I. to its sister institution.
Mr. Mulbah Jackollie also said that he cannot recall in the past fifty or more years since the founding of B.W.I, to have a sitting President of the Tuskegee University to have visited with the school, besides Dr. Gilbert Rochon.
He said B.W.I's renewal of the historic ties with the Tuskegee University is important to re-ignite the missing link between the two institutions especially in post war Liberia where B.W.I. like any learning institution in the country was greatly devastated during the war years of Liberia.
Principal Jackollie also said following many unsuccessful attempts to reestablish the union with its sister institution, to see Dr Gilbert Rochon as a “sitting President” of the Tuskegee University and his wife, Patricia was delightful. He thanked Alumnus John Fahnbutu through whose instrumentality the guest of honor was received on the campus of the Booker Washington Institute.
Principal Jackollie revealed that the Booker Washington Institute was since its founding in 1929, being operated by the Americans until 1957 when it got its first Liberian Principal, Moses Klonyon Weefur.
According to Principal Mulbah Jackollie, this long awaited visit also offered an opportunity for Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to cherish B.W.I.-Tuskegee historic tie and reiterated the human resource development need of B.W.I.
President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf during a brief meeting with Dr. Gilbert Rochon at her Foreign Ministry office called for more capacity building for the Booker Washington Institute by the Tuskegee University.
At the same time students and faculty of the Booker Washington have launched a passionate appeal to the President of the Tuskegee University for the provision of instructional materials and scholarships.
The faculty lamented that they were ageing and that the need to have more technically trained vocational instructors cannot be over emphasized.