September 23, 2020

Help develop vaccines to combat diseases — Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has tasked the new Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to lead the charge in developing standard vaccines to combat diseases, including the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).

He said the background of Professor Rita Akosua Dickson as a trained pharmacist was appropriate in helping to find solutions to the global challenge “in this time of our national life”.
President Akufo-Addo, who was the special guest at last Saturday’s investiture of the first female Vice-Chancellor of KNUST in Kumasi, said the role of science and technology was crucial in the 21st Century because it was the dominant force in all spheres of life.
“If our nation is to be successful in the global development process, then attention must be paid to science and technology,” he added.
The mother of four girls is the 11th Vice-Chancellor in the university’s 69-year history.
Professor Mrs Rita Akosua Dickson (left) doffs her hat to President Akufo-Addo and Otumfuo Osei Tutu II after being sworn in as the new Vice-Chancellor of KNUST. Picture: EMMANUEL BAAH
The colourful ceremony was graced by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who is also the Chancellor of the university, former Vice-Chancellors, political bigwigs and people from the corporate world.
Limited number of guests were invited to join members of convocation in the Great Hall where the event took place in line with adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
The programme was also streamed live on the university’s website and on its television station, Tech TV.
President Akufo-Addo assured the university that the government would complete its stalled teaching hospital project which was started in 2008.
He further urged both junior and senior faculty members of the university to offer the needed support to the Vice-Chancellor to succeed and also ensure the implementation of the new educational reforms.
The Asantehene said technology, especially during the COVID-19 period had greatly influenced teaching and learning practices.
“The challenge that it brings, therefore, requires a special set of skills and knowledge to provide the best practice available,” he said.
The Otumfuo said the COVID-19 pandemic had brought in its wake difficulties in all sectors and that the situation called for unprecedented reforms, and new ways of conducting activities particularly in the education sector.
“It is in the midst of these daunting challenges that our first female Vice-Chancellor takes office. The immediate questions that beg for answers from you as the Vice-Chancellor include: How is teaching and learning going to be and whether the university was planning to teach via virtual method or a combination of virtual and face-to-face, adding “and how will your 64,000 students be accommodated on and off campus with all the restrictions that come with the COVID-19 protocols when school is finally reopened?”
The Otumfuo said: “Akosua, you cannot forget of your great-great-grandmother, the famous Yaa Asantewaa. The woman who led the Asante Kingdom against British colonisation to defend the Golden Stool. Always remember, you share the same ancestral blood and I see in you, the Yaa Asantewaa of KNUST.”
For her part, Prof. Dickson promised to position KNUST as a competitive global research-intensive institution for advancement in science and technology for the industrial and social uptake towards sustainable national and global development.
She said that could be achieved by “creating strategic opportunities using inspired leadership, active stakeholder participation, highly qualified and motivated human resource, research and entrepreneurship-oriented academic training”.
Prof. Dickson said the university would further establish a more resilient and robust e-learning system and also upscale the use of smart technologies for both “synchronous and asynchronous” teaching to ensure seamless academic work all year round.
In line with that, the Vice-Chancellor said she intended to roll out a project dubbed “Support one needy student with one laptop (SONSOL),” in collaboration with philanthropists and key stakeholders, among other initiatives.
About Prof. Dickson
Prof. (Mrs) Rita Akosua Dickson, a professor of Pharmacognosy, takes over from Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso as the 11th VC of KNUST.
Until her appointment, she was the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university, becoming the first woman to assume that position on October 1, 2018.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy from the same university in 1994, had her internship at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and undertook her national service (teaching assistant) at the Department of Pharmacognosy, KNUST.
Prof. Dickson obtained her Mpharm Pharmacognosy in 1999 and was appointed a lecturer in 2000.
In 2003, Prof. Dickson was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship to pursue her PhD at King’s College at the University of London, UK, and a certificate in Academic Practice from the same university.
Prof. Dickson returned to KNUST in 2007 and rose through the ranks to become the Vice-Chancellor.

Source: General News

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