INSTITUTIONALIZING DISTINTIVENESS

INSTITUTIONALIZING DISTINCTIVENESS AT EDWIN CLARK UNIVERSITY (ECU)

BY

TIMOTHY .O. OLAGBEMIRO, Ph.D., FCSN, FICCON
PROFESSOR OF ORGANIC CH
&
VICE-CHANCELLOR,
EDWIN CLARK UNIVERSITY

LECTURE OUTLINE
I. Defining the word “Distinctive”
II. Distinctiveness in Academia
III. Why Distinctiveness at Edwin Clark University (ECU)?
IV. What Challenges do we face at ECU in seeking to be Distinct?
V. Our evidence-guide to Distinctiveness at ECU
VI. Our Distinctiveness
VII. Distinctiveness and University Ranking
VIII. Conclusion.

I. What does the word “Distinctive” Signify?
What does it mean?
• Giving an uncommon quality
• Giving noted quality
• Creating a Difference/Distinguished quality
• An exceptional quality
• An identity

In a nutshell, distinctiveness is defined as the vehicle which enables an organization to achieve many of its strategic goals.
• It is about being sufficiently different from others to be identifiable and ideally memorable.
• It is another word for identity, and it is linked to staff and students motivation and identity.

II. Distinctiveness in Academia

• Distinctiveness, is NOT synonymous to standardization
• It is what enables institutions to be able to attract prospective students, collaboration, partners and funding agents.
• It is an important aspect of selling your institution to your audience and why they should engage you.

III. Why do we need to be Distinct at ECU?

• Any institution can determine to be distinct BUT its leaders must know its needs and have the commitment and skills to achieve it.
• With increases competition for students admission, we must express ourselves clearly and convincingly too, why we would be a preferred choice.
• It is a survival strategy among Universities in our 200 kilometers radius.

IV. Challenges in seeking to be Distinct

• Universities are usually confused to know the difference between Distinctiveness and Copying those institution judged on the league table between 1st and 20th position i.e. ranking.
• The tendency is wanting to be like those on the league table i.e. Lagos, Ibadan, Benin, OAU, ABU etc.
• To create distinctiveness, it is an enormous task. All staff must be on the same page, and they must have a stake.

V. Evidence-guide to Distinctiveness at ECU

• In seeking distinctiveness at ECU, we must consider the 3R tests: what REAL, RARE and RELEVANT evidence do we have
• What resources/conditions do we have in place to rightly position us on the platform of Distinct?
• THE REAL, RARE AND THE RELEVANCE IN US IS OUR STRENGTH!!

Our Strengths

1. Our Campus Location
2. Our Environment
3. Teaching And Research Facilities
4. Our Pastoral Setting
5. Core of our Academic and Non-Academic Staff
6. Our University Logo and Motto
7. Our Inspiring Vision, Mission and Anthem
8. Discipline Enforced
9. Campus Life: Bible-Based Foundation
10. Access: Communication
11. Exceptionally Caring University Theme
12. Leadership Skills: Experienced Staff

1. Our Campus Location

• We are located in a set-apart, peaceful and quiet section of Delta state, far away from pollution, and a typical city distraction. (Real, Rare and Relevant)

2. Our Environment

• Having a right weather, a restful and peaceful place with tall vegetation and appropriate rainfall is synonymous to having good study skills. (Real, Rare and Relevant)

• The above set the stage for other external factors that affects staff and students campus quality of life, adequate attention to students and staff-student interaction. (Real, Rare and Relevant)
3. Teaching And Research Facilities

• A positive school environment is characterized by its facilities, its surroundings, well managed classrooms, school-based health support as well as its fair disciplinary practices and policies. This forms the hallmark and sustenance of a University. (Real, Rare and Relevant)
• At ECU, the acquisition and provision of teaching and research equipment, adequate and superb undergraduate laboratory facilities lend evidence to its distinctiveness, as a University of choice. The teaching and research facilities available include, laminar flow, infrared spectrophotometer(IR), nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer(NMR), atomic absorption spectrophotometer(AAS), Higher performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC), several high renowned microscopes, calorimeters, distillation unit apparatus, ovens etc. to mention a few. (Real, Rare and Relevant)

• The University is based with a substantial library holdings of over 22,000 volumes of books as well as some journals along with an automated library system, with on-line facilities (Real, Rare and Relevant)
• The University’s only professional unit, the Law Faculty has a befitting library, along with its modern-day moot court, an auditorium, with its computerized library and students IT lounge, filled with on-line law softwares. (Real, Rare and Relevant)

4. Our Pastoral Setting

• At ECU, you will find well-spaced, simple, friendly but functional buildings on a campus so peaceful and aerated, offering that inner pastoral peace for serious academic work. The peace, serenity and quietness you enjoy no doubt encourages you to be in tune with God. (Real, Rare and Relevant)

5. Core of our Academic and Non-Academic Staff

• The core of ECU staff (academic and non-academic) are young dynamic and of varied University teaching and administrative experience. Therefore the task of providing transparent, excellent and sustained services is made easy. The bulk of the experienced staff serve as mentors to the younger ones who have little experience in University process. (Real, Rare and Relevant)

6. Our University Logo and Motto

• Our University logo and motto makes us a unique institution. They are our unifying core. The logo consists of an open book which signifies knowledge and an oil rig along the coast of a large body of water, depicting the characteristic features of the environment of the institution. The rig and the book are enclosed in an octagon, representing eight faculties of the University when fully grown. The University motto is: Knowledge and Development. (Real, Rare and Relevant)

7. Our Inspiring Vision, Mission and Anthem

• The anthem which is recited in song every Wednesday and on important ceremonies on campus, sums up the spirit behind the motto, vision as well as mission statements: nurturing, development, excellence, skills, knowledge are vital ingredients needed for the growth and being of a total person. They are inspiring words, and they also represent loyalty to ECU’s Alma mater. The Lord Almighty, the giver of life features in all these as we all give thanks to him.

8. Discipline Enforced

• All students regulations, guiding students conduct on campus, is contained in a booklet provided for each student. The rules are student-friendly but enforced without fear or favour.
• The University has zero tolerance for indiscipline, cultism, gangsterism, intimidation, truancy, absent from bed-checks etc.
• ECU exeat system is practiced, and campus dress code is constantly enforced.
• The Courtesy Officers performs their courteous roles.

9. Campus-Life: Bible Based Foundation

• Although ECU is a secular University, it is a bible-based University and we believe in God, and express our worship to him through Jesus Christ, his son. As a body of believers, the fear of God takes pre-eminence in our day-to-day function, relationships and dealings for in Him we live. In Him we move, in Him we have our being.
• Our worship service is interdenominational, led by a dynamic and young University Chaplain, who understands the terrain and our students.
• We are inclusive, and we recognize all other religion.
• Every student is pledged to worship and participate in all hostel devotions. No one is forced to accept Christ as his/her Savior. It is a self-conviction!! It is personal!!

10. Access: Communication

• One of the ways to secure the confidence of our students is by allowing them access their teachers as well as the University administration. Every student of the University has the phone number of the Vice-Chancellor, and they have direct access to him and all other University staff as well.
• As leaders of tomorrow, all students are given due recognition and prominence. This does not however affect their requirement to respect or comply with the University’s code of conduct, respect for staff or the rules of law.
• Students are given access to communicate with the University authority, and the Student Representative Body (SRB) is the official organ of ECU students. (Real, Rare and Relevant)

11. Exceptionally Caring University

• Retention and Reformation Committee
• A Proprietor at 86, giving all he has for the liberation of less privileged Nigerians, particularly those in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. He sold his properties to establish ECU. His concern every day is the progress of the University.
• Students are priority: without students there is NO University (Real, Rare and Relevant)

12. Leadership Skills

• The University students representative on various University Committees
• Your academics as Coordinator/Responsible positions in Committees
• Participating in Leadership at Worship Services
• Students Organized Forum: Clubs, Student Representative Body, the Choir, Drama group, Prayer Band etc.

VI. Our Distinctiveness

a) The fear of God in the pursuit of Excellence continues to be of TOP priority
b) Our Discipline, our worship services, our student access to staff are regarded vital to our survival
c) We constantly keep and attract more talented staff, who display excellence and interests in teaching and research.
d) ECU Curriculum is focused on preparing a 21st Century workforce. Skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving methods, planning and organization, information technology must continue to be given top priority.

e) ECU courses must continue to thrive on critical thinking and problem solving approach, to bring transparent creativity and innovation to the students.
f) ECU students must continue to be allowed to communicate effectively – via in class assignments that will allow them see the class for presentation openly.
g) Students and staff must continue to enjoy some degree of flexibility in their choice of electives courses, choice of course of study. They must continue to be taught that they will account for their choices.
h) ECU must continue to tap into its students motivation, enabling them to develop good work habits, scaffolding team spirit, encouraging good academic practice, and having the culture of excellence as a group goal.

i) ECU entrepreneurship course must be taken with utter seriousness. Education on campus must not be for school alone, but for life. Creativity, innovative spirit along with critical thinking must occupy the minds of every staff and students, whether teaching or non-teaching.
j) The transparent nature of power, and the opportunity given one to impact lives need to be continuously drummed to the ears of event staff. That academic and non-academic staff are engaged in the training of future leaders, need to be emphasized so that these students be treated rightly. “Garbage in, Garbage out”.
k) With time, and as more academic staff join the team, the University must see areas it has expertise, develop it to its full potential, so as to distinguish itself in are of excellence I that option.

l) Students must be taught to think outside the box and out of their comfort zone. Students must ask questions, so that they can inspire others!!
m) ECU must continue to be a hub of ideas, committed to students success
n) As a University that is distinct, we must continue to be engaged with Kiagbodo. We must not be an ivory tower rather we must be beacon of light to Kiagbodo and environs and impact lives.

o) The uniqueness of Edwin Clark in size is envisaged to be an advantage to the University and those who study there. A total student population of 2,500 students, with all students residing on campus and with full recreation facilities, as well as a befitting landscape is the dream for ECU campus. This will enhance the University as a place where students really experience a secured, peaceful and educative campus life with a low student-staff ratio. This is distinctiveness!!
p) It is anticipated that as part of ECU distinctiveness, it will continue to keep its linkages, and probably seek more, so as to internationalize ECU’s academic curriculum, ensure that its students really are global and graduating in true character and learning. This is our resolve.

VII. Distinctiveness and University Ranking

• Ranking is a measure of excellence, using certain parameters. You are expected to take the lead in ranking.
• Distinctiveness is an identity, and being sufficiently different from others to be identifiable and memorable.

VIII. CONCLUSION

• We have examined what makes us to be distinct at ECU. The will to keep our distinctiveness is essential if we have to keep our POWER BRAND. What sets us apart and branded, is what appeals to our audience and those who care to taste what we offer at ECU. Our environment is REAL, our institutional ways are RARE, and we are absolutely RELEVANT to a nation which at 57 is still finding its foot, a nation still in search of its identity, a nation where the fear of God is set aside despite the balladries of churches and mosques, where still in the 21st Century her workforce is engulfed in all sorts of corrupt practices, a country whose youths suffer indirection and with very low credible leadership! Indeed, at no other time is our type of University more relevant than now!!

• We must keep our distinctiveness by standing out from other Universities. We must become known as a result of our being CONSISTENT, AUTHENTIC and MEMORABLE.
• I want to continue to lead change, because I embrace this power of creativity and brand, as a vital strategy for building a 21st century University.

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.