BY: Dan Amor
In its enduring tradition of transparency, probity and accountability, the University of Calabar has advertised its vacancy for the position of Vice Chancellor. According to a release signed by the registrar, Amb. Gabriel. O. Egbe on behalf of the Governing Council of the university, the vacancy is with effect from December 1, 2020 when the current VC, Prof. Zana Itiunbe Akpagu would have served his tenure. Highlights of the general requirements of candidate for the post include:
i. an acclaimed scholar who is a professor of very high repute and must have published in academic journals that are both of national and international repute.
ii. must have had a wide range of academic and administrative experience.
iii. must be on the rank of professor for at least 9 years by 1st December, 2020.
iv. must provide administrative leadership to a well-informed and articulate local academic community.
v. must be a fair-minded and dynamic individual with a reputation that is impeccable in his dealings with people at all levels.
vi. must possess requisite and relevant managerial experience to be able to provide leadership to the university.
vii. must enjoy certified excellent medical and mental health.
viii. must be a person of proven probity and integrity.
ix. must be a well exposed and informed person possessing skills in communication technology, appreciating the consequences of ICT in the contemporary knowledge industry.
x. must be a tested and excellent manager of resources.
xi. must not be more than 65 years of age by 1st December, 2020.
Even before the advertisement was published about a fortnight ago, several professors, including the serious contenders and the pretenders, have been jostling for attention. In this sense, everybody is qualified, as they say that all manner of knives are invited to an elephant’s funeral. But it must be noted here that among the galaxy of academic stars who want to clinch the diadem as the next Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, if the requirements enumerated above are anything to go by, Professor Joseph Ele Asor is the most qualified. A recent independent and private opinion survey in the university reveals that in the imagination of students, academic and non-academic staff alike, including professors themselves, Prof. Asor is, unarguably, the most popular among those vying for the coveted position. He is in his midlife (will be 57 years of age by June 19, 2020).
Born on June 19, 1963, to the Catholic family of Chief (Osu) Augustine Ele Asor, a renowned teacher from Ekureku in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State, Prof. Joseph Ele Asor attended Primary School, Ekurekube, Ekureku in Abi Local Government Area for his elementary education, and Mary Knoll College, Okuku, Ogoja in Cross River State. He left Mary Knoll in 1980 with Division One, Aggregate 20 topping the merit list in the science category. Always upbeat in his academic pursuits, Prof. Asor proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt to study Zoology in 1980 and graduated with an honours Degree in 1984. In 1990, he bagged his M. Sc. Zoology (Parasitology) and in 1996, he earned his Ph.D Zoology (Parasitology). Cool, calculative and summarily brilliant, Prof. Asor is urbane, deep, reserved and highly experienced.
Prof. Asor began his career as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences, College of Education, Ikare Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria for his mandatory National Youth Service (1984-1985). He was a tutor at Agbo Comprehensive Secondary School, Egboronyi, Abi Local Government Area, Cross River State, Nigeria (1986-1990). From 1990 to 1996, he was a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences, The Polytechnic, Calabar (now, Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH). Between 1996 and 1999, Prof. Asor was appointed Lecturer 11 in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calabar, and between 1999 and 2002, he was promoted to Lecturer 1.
From 2002 to 2005, Prof. Asor was Senior Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences and between 2006 and 2010, he was promoted Associate professor in the Department of Zoology and Environmental Biology in the University of Calabar. From 2010 till date, Prof. Asor has been a full-fledged professor in the Department of Zoology and Environmental Biology, University of Calabar, Nigeria. Between 1999 and 2002, Prof. Asor was appointed Rector, on leave of absence from the University of Calabar, to Ibrahim Babangida College of Agriculture, Ovonum-Obubra, Cross River State (now Cross River University of Technology, Obubra Campus), having been a member of the Governing Council of the institution between 1999 and 2001. Between 2001 and 2003, Prof. Asor was a member, Governing Council, Cross River University of Technology, Calabar. In 2012, he was appointed Acting Chairman, Governing Board, Cross River State Community and Social Development Agency, Calabar, having been member of the Governing Board between 2008 and 2014.
Between 2010 and 2014, Prof. Asor was a member, Governing Council, Cross River State College of Education, Akamkpa. A man of great learning and enormous administrative competence, Prof. Asor was elevated to the enviable position of Head of Department of Zoology and Environmental Biology, University of Calabar, a position he held between 2013 and 2014. He had been Dean, Students’ Affairs Division, University of Calabar between 2006 and 2011. Between 2014 and 2016, Prof. Asor was Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Calabar and between 2016 and 2018, he was Dean, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Calabar. A highly disciplined scholar and university administrator for whom all the perquisites and trappings of office hold no attraction, Prof. Joseph Asor has never been found wanting in any of his assignments.
In fact, a university training is, in part, the great ordinary means to a great but ordinary end. It aims at raising the intellectual tone of society; at cultivating the public mind; at purifying the national taste; at supplying true principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to popular aspirations. It also aims at giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideas of the age, at facilitating the exercise of political power, and refining the intercourse of private life. To be candid, the university, in the true sense of the word, should be a state, self-governed, and whose membership is absolutely based on a purely intellectual franchise. Therefore, if the academic world is designed to illuminate and foster enlightenment in all ramifications, its leadership must be entrusted with a passionate scholar and administrator with requisite brilliance, integrity, commitment and charisma such as Professor Joseph Ele Asor. In the current contest for the Vice Chancellorship position of the University of Calabar, in terms of capacity, capability, administrative acumen, the ability to foster peace, unity and progress in a dynamic university community, Prof. Joseph Ele Asor remains the beautiful maiden. His composite academic distinctions and cosmopolitan gait represent his nobility of outlook.
Indeed, a review of the scholarly aspects of Prof. Joseph Ele Asor’s contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the field of biological and environmental sciences is intimidating; and this can be gleaned from the quality of his books and his contributions to local and international academic journals. Seen everywhere as a very generous and detribalised academic and a bridge-builder, Prof. Asor is firm but considerate, and yet gifted with an innate propensity for reasonableness. A thoroughbred intellectual who talks softly with a tone of polished gentility, Prof. Asor has many densely articulated and tightly crafted books and articles in scholarly journals to his credit. He is an eminent scholar and administrator who is well versed in the finest academic tradition. He has been a confirmed professor for more than a decade. His capacity to lead a robust academic community like the University of Calabar is beyond easy question. Very healthy, energetic and full of life, Prof. Asor is sportive and plays football and other sports regularly. He is married to Dr. (Mrs.) Love Joseph Asor and the union is blessed with one son and two daughters.
*Amor, journalist and public affairs analyst, wrote in from Abuja.