A Professor of International Relations, Professor Alade Fawole, has described the indiscriminate use of academic robes and the award of honorary degrees by universities as a bastardisation of the university culture.
Fawole, a former member of the governing council of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun State, made the comments recently while delivering the first pre-matriculation lecture at the Technical University, Ibadan.
In his lecture entitled ‘Symbols, Symbolisms and the University Culture’, Professor Fawole observed that “nursery and primary schools – even artisans and fashion designers – now adopt the same mode of dressing for their so-called graduation ceremonies.
While stressing that academic robes should be worn with respect for the ceremony, he noted that graduands now show up at convocation ceremonies “poorly or improperly robed or not even robbed at all, thereby not showing the proper respect for the integrity and solemnity of the ceremony.”
He said it is lack of proper understanding and appreciation of the critical essence of the sacred practices and solemn ceremonies by the current generation of young scholars that is responsible for the fading significance.
But more importantly, Fawole expressed pains that “the time-honoured tradition of conferring degrees is being gradually bastardised through the award of honorary degrees to the highest bidders in the society, mostly for pecuniary advantages to institutions whose vice-chancellors have turned into executive beggars.
He regretted those government officials, traditional rulers, chiefs and security personnel are increasingly taking prominent positions and almost displacing university professors, members of the University Senate and other scholars at convocation ceremonies, which are purely academic ceremonies.
Fawole noted: “Unfortunately, it is the high officials of the universities themselves, either out of poor knowledge of university traditions or inordinate pressures from outside political sources that should be held responsible for this ignoble denigration of the university culture.”
He said it was regrettable that the university as a factory of knowledge production and dissemination is fast losing its very essence, as it is being turned into mere factories for the narrow purpose of churning out manpower to satisfy the marketplace only.
Fawole urged the professoriate not to allow the university culture to die “otherwise the present generation of scholars will bequeath a dangerous inheritance to coming generations.”
As standard bearers, he charged the administration, lecturers and students of The Technical University, Ibadan to be mindful of what they want the university to be known for and how they want it to be perceived in the future.
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