Thursday, April 14, 2011

University of Liberia: A Restoration Story

The second oldest institution of higher learning in West Africa, the University of Liberia (UL) played a pivotal role in the early years of the nation. Established in 1851 as an institution for clergymen and public officials, the university has educated many of Liberia's leaders.

Indy's Sagamore Institute, 2902 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, is hosting a discussion from 10:30 a.m. 'til noon on Wednesday (20 April) with Dr. Charles Reafsnyder and Dr. Mary Beth Riner on efforts to rebuild UL.

Dr. Reafsnyder is Associate Vice President in the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs (OVPIA) at Indiana University-Bloomington. Dr. Riner is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program for the Indiana University School of Nursing.

The recent civil war wreaked havoc on the university, reducing the faculty from 1,400 to 307. Additionally, more than 90 percent of the university's facilities (including computers, books, and typewriters) were looted and pillaged.

In 2008, however, Indiana University (IU) recognized the accomplishments of Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in reestablishing democratic governance and beginning to rebuild the country.

Despite recent progress, Liberia continues to have some of the highest rates of maternal/infant mortality, malaria, and malnutrition in the world. Coupled with a seriously depleted health care workforce, the average life span of Liberians has plummeted from pre-war years.

During President Sirleaf's visit to the United States in 2008, IU made a commitment to address Liberia's health care workforce training needs through the development of health and life science programs at UL.

IU faculty is helping UL boost their own faculty, redevelop curriculum, and revitalize UL's School of Medicine's programs in biology, biotechnology, nursing, public health and pre-clinical science instruction.

If you plan to attend, please register online by 18 April.

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