Challenges and opportunities for the comprehensive universities: Planning for the future and unleashing excellence.

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University of Ghana


Universities remain critical for the future of our societies and remain as prominent representatives of societal aspirations. In universities we seek knowledge, educate citizens, ask big questions facing society and push the limits of human understanding and knowledge. Indeed, we provide the tools for critical thinking and analyses, provide global perspectives, and continuous learning and lifelong learning ambitions. Employers, however, are grappling with both the shortage of skilled workers and skill gaps in the workers they employ. Specifically, the skill gaps have been reported to be very evident in technical, job specific skills and the so-called soft skills. Universities, thus, face several challenges including; the expectations of students to be provided with experiences that justify their presence on our campuses; increased societal expectations that see universities as glorified trade schools, and the demands that most of our research misses what matters most to society. We will discuss the challenges and opportunities that universities face in their quest to be relevant, and responsive to meet the priorities being advanced by society by building unique student experiences, enhancing our academic programming, connecting to the communities we serve and enhancing our research culture.


One of the Canada’s top agricultural researchers and a proven cultivator of undergraduate and graduate student research, Prof. Erasmus Okine is currently Vice-President (Research) joining the University of Lethbridge from the University of Alberta, both in Canada. At the University of Alberta, he served in a dual capacity as the Associate Vice-President (Research) and Associate Vice-President (Academic). In his role as Vice-President (Research), Prof. Okine leads a team that constantly strives to provide co-ordination and direction, through broader themes of interdisciplinary approaches, effective collaborations, within and across faculties, new partnerships, new opportunities with industry partners, communities, provincially, nationally and internationally, to further enhance the University of Lethbridge research successes and fulfill the vision of being Alberta’s Destination University. A native of Ghana, Prof. Okine completed his Bachelor of Science (1978) and Master of Science (1981) in Animal Science at the University of Ghana in Legon, followed by his PhD (1990) in Animal Nutrition and Digestive Physiology at the University of Alberta. He served as Chair of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science (AFNS) at the University of Alberta from 2005 to 2014. Prof. Okine’s research interests focus on topics relevant to world agriculture, including providing insights into mechanisms controlling animal productivity; elucidating the roles of the key enzymes involved in marbling and synthesis of sub-cutaneous adipose tissue in beef cattle; and methane emission and mitigation in the ruminant animal, especially in beef cattle. Prof. Okine has mentored over 32 PhD and MSc students in his laboratory, has more than 120 peer-reviewed papers and over 200 published abstracts. Prof. Okine has received a number of awards over the course of his career, including the Alberta Premier’s Silver Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research (2000), being named a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Animal Science in 2009 and Fellow of the International College of Nutrition (2006).


Universities, Planning, Employers, challenges