The Faculty of Dentistry of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) is again in the news for positive reasons, following the rating in the latest release of the Global Academic Ranking of World Universities (GRAS).
An elated Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry , Prof. Morenike Toyin Ukpong could not hide her joy as she joined other colleagues in the faculty to celebrate.
Reacting to the development, she said: “The major driver of this noble achievement is the high quality collaborative research outputs from the faculty”.
According to the 2022 GRAS ranking, which was released recently, both OAU’s Faculty of Dentistry and the Veterinary Sciences Faculty of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta emerged in the 201- 300 group; while in the Psychology Faculty of the University of Nigeria, Nzukka emerged in the 401-500 group.
The Chairman of the Governing Board of the Higher Education Observatory for Africa (HEOFA), Prof. Peter Okebukola congratulated the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu; the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, and the authorities of the outstanding faculties and their respective university community.
Also, a member of the HEOFA Board, Dr Fred Mensah stated that dividend of the NUC-led efforts is the top-ranking of Nigerian universities among their peers in the world universities.
At the Faculty of the Dentistry, OAU, the community received the news with jubilations. The Dean, Prof. Ukpong said the news came as a surprise as well as a morale booster.
“It is encouraging to know that the little thing we do add up. We will only choose to do more by understanding this. This global achievement is a result of unconscious process, if we do things a lot more consciously; we can go far”.
Like an Oliver Twist, the Dean looks forward to many more landmark strides in placing the Dental School in the global map consistently.
“While this ranking is a commutation of many others, we as a faculty needs to seat, study, understand and do better. I look forward to the faculty being able to do many landmark things of international importance. As a collective, we are working to build a Dental Entrepreneurship Centre; it has been designed and sited. We will need about N180 million to build it. Once built, we will have the First Dental Entrepreneurship Centre in the country. So, I look forward to the faculty being the foremost Dental Research Grant recipient in Africa. We have all it takes to be in this best position. We just need to consciously drive the process”, Ukpong noted.
She revealed that there is an ongoing Biomaterial Science Research at the faculty, which can drive changes in Dental Biomaterial Research in the country.
“We are one of the few centres in the country building competency on research conduct and dissemination. We are looking forward to NUC approval of our Dental implantology Master’s programme.
“There are lots more building innovations. I think collectively we know that the faculty is strong and we can do a lot more together. Most importantly, we want to do a lot more”, Ukpong stressed.
A former Dean, Prof. Owotade John Foluso said that the news was encouraging as the feat is a combresult ination of academic excellence.
“There is no doubt that the news is encouraging. A combination of international visibility through academic output and the excellence that we have displayed in our teaching, research and community service”, the Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery stated.
Another past Dean, Prof. Olawunmi Fatusi hinged the feat on total dedication of both students and staff.
The Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery said: “We are very excited about OAU dental programme making the 201-300 ranking. It is a validation of our hardwork and commitment in the past and a call to improved development in the future. Despite being the smallest faculty in the university, we have always been positive about the impact we are able to make in our students’ lives and the university at large.
“Much more, we are excited about the products of this faculty and all that they have been able to achieve across the globe”.
Looking to a bright future, Fatusi who is the first female Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery at the OAU, believed that proper and adequate funding in financial, technological and management innovations would go a long way in assisting the faculty to perform better and do more.
“My vision for the OAU Faculty of Dentistry is to become a world class Dental School with a 1-100 global rating within the next couple of years. I hope that the faculty will continue to keep a close link between research and education, employing leading dentists and scientists to teach the latest techniques, diagnostics and treatments,” Fatusi said with pride.
“Stimulating information and restorer of hope”, was the best way the Head of Department, Department of Oral Medicine and Oral Pathology, Dr Oyetola Elijah Olufemi described the news.
He said: “The news came as a stimulating information and I also see it as encouraging. It restores our hope and reassures us again that when we put efforts on ground and when we have good leaders that are focused as we have our indefatigable dean, that good thing can still happen again.
“In a nutshell, the global ranking came as a reassurance that when we put efforts and you pray; of course, we still have hope in this country. So, the news is a strong encourager for me and the whole department sees it as good news.
“The faculty has been blessed with great and dedicated leaders who are desirous of leaving behind positive legacies. In this regard, we are talking of our present Dean, Prof. Morenike Ukpong, the past deans such as Prof. Olawunmi Fatusi, Prof. Owotde Foluso Owotade; not forgetting Prof. Bamire Adebayo Simeon who is the present Vice Chancellor of our institution (OAU)”.
A Professor of Restorative Dentistry, Temitope Esan said that the faculty would not rest on its oars to make it the best dental school in Africa and the world.
“Our ranking is no doubt traced to the hardwork and dedication put in by the Dean and the entire staff of the faculty. In addition, the innovations, number of grants, the various academic and professional development programmes, the publications in highly rated journals all contributed to our success stories”, he noted.
Esan believed that modern laboratory and digitalisation of its workflow would positively assist the Faculty in growing better and bigger in terms of achievement.
Owotade looks forward to an availability of access to library resources and creating a safe environment with functional infrastructure that will enhance their work, as well as encouraging international scholars to visit and collaborate.