Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Monrovia -

When Student Nicholas Fayad who is doing a Masters’ Program at the University of Liberia (UL) was given an ‘I’ (incomplete) for one of his courses, the University’s administration moved in to take a step against a lecturer thought to be corrupting the students. Fayad, a Lebanese student, had claimed the ‘I’ grade was wrongfully issued him. The course lecturer justified his grade with the display of Fayad’s exam notebook that shows he wrote nothing in it.
An FPA’s deeper look into the expulsion scenario of the lecturer from the University however seems scantier than a convincing episode with series of communication exchanges and academic materials suggesting the need for a deeper investigation into the matter.ul
Key among the documents available to FPA is a February 7, 2011 letter from the Director of the Masters’ of Business Administration (MBA) and Masters’ of Public Administration (MPA) suggesting that the student’s refusal to repeat a course led to the investigation of one of the lecturers whose courses were to be shortly cancelled and the lecturer expelled.
Professor Phillip A. Jayjay, Jr. in the communication to Student Fayad expressed complete dissatisfaction over Fayad’s ‘misrepresentation of the fact’ and refusal to detail everything that transpired between him and the lecturer in a formal letter to be addressed to him but rather chose to do so through an anonymous release or leaflet.
Romeo D. N. Gbartea, lecturing the post graduate Public Administration course Personnel Research Methodology (PADM 648) was shocked with the news that his courses had been cancelled based on the allegation that Student Fayad had accused him of ‘extorting money’ from him in exchange for a passing grade.
Gbartea was later axed in the process despite displaying a dismal failing grade to show reason why Fayad needed to repeat the course. Fayad’s scorebook, also obtained by FPA, showed that Student Fayad made 0/75 % after he only wrote his ID number 51052 and course name without writing a single letter in the entire exam copybook. Gbartea was to later learn of the cancellation of his courses and expulsion through a March 4, 2011 memo posted on bulletin board of the MBA/MPA department.
According to the obtained Professor Jayjay’s letter, Fayad otherwise known as ‘Cousin’ complained that in addition to some money he had already paid to Lecturer Gbartea, more was still being requested: “Notwithstanding, you flatly refused [to repeat the course] insinuating that you had paid the Lecturer money and he was demanding for more money. As to whether you had deliberately paid the lecturer money to give you ‘free grade’ is a very serious issue which we need to investigate.”
The document further detailed that Fayad who is said to be an influential Lebanese merchant accused the head of the MBA/MPA of wanting to keep it a secret.
According to the obtained Professor Jayjay’s letter to Fayad which was intended to formally acknowledge the complaint Fayad had launched to the professor’s office , he, Professor Jayjay, was misquoted that he wanted ‘everything kept in secret’.  The professor narrated the failure of the aggrieved student to reduce the complaints into formal letter but rather chose to do so in an anonymous leaflet neither addressed to the professor as head of the MBA/MPA nor signed by Fayad. grades
 The annoyed Professor did not hide his disappointment in the letter addressed to the Lebanese student: “Let the record show that I have seriously disagreed with you when you told me that you have given the Lecturer money, stating that this is against our ethnical norms of the day. If you remember well, I did say to you that you had no business giving anyone money. So, in this instance you committed the first error. Since you were telling me so many things which I did not know about, I asked you to put everything into writing. Even though you have put something into writing, it is very unfortunate that you have misrepresented the facts. For example, why will I tell you to keep secret and at the same time you to put everything into writing? I never said such to you. But you have written and said I said such.”
The letter with copies sent to the senior executives of the university including the offices of the President, and the Vice Presidents for Graduate Education, Academic Affairs and Fiscal Affairs and also to Lecturer Gbartea further states that when the investigation enquired from the lecturer why he gave an ‘I’ instead of an ‘F’, “he simply said to me that it would only be fair to you to give you another chance”. He further narrated to Fayad that Gbartea assured him Professor Jayjay that he wanted Fayad to attend at least two class sessions after which he would be given an assignment that would enable him to clear the ‘I’.
Fayad accordingly refused to follow the lecturer’s advice despite Professor Jayjay’s appeal: “In fact, I even appealed to you to accept this arrangement to enable you clear your incomplete. Notwithstanding you flatly refused insinuating that you had paid the lecturer money and that he was demanding for more money.” 
When contacted, Professor Jayjay told FPA that he was not prepared to discuss such matter in the media and that the University’s Public Relations would respond to it.
For the student whose grading led to the saga, he could neither confirm his bribery to the lecturer nor deny his dismal grade of 0/75 % .  Fayad who had initially spoken smoothly until an FPA reporter identified himself as a journalist   yelled over the phone: “I’m busy in a meeting now. Get to the University.”
Lecturer’s Complaint: In another document addressed to Professor Jayjay, Gbartea complained of Fayad’s attitude of “not attending classes frequently on the excuse of running errands for the President of Liberia.”
Narrating in the February 23, 2011 letter which copies were served the high level administrators of the university, Gbartea explains: “For the worst part, he did not even understand the fundamentals and essence of the course. He has treated the learning process as though the University of Liberia is the breeding ground for mediocrity and indiscipline attitudes. Notably, he continued to demand for grade that he has not earned; stating that he has been appointed by the President of Liberia to a country and therefore wants to graduate fast without exerting any intellectual prowess. Moreover, he has contacted so many personalities to ensure that I change his grade to what he wants but I refused on grounds that he must go back to class to understand the nature of the course like some of his colleagues who are repeating the course.”
In another letter dated March 17, 2011 to the President, Gbartea said: “Professor Jayjay has cancelled the PADM 648 Class without informing me the course instructor with just few days to the examination….I’m of the conviction that when this matter is thoroughly investigated politics will be separated from academic matters to reflect the true meaning of LUX IN TENEBRIS.”
Students’ Complaint: The cancellation of the course in the aftermath of the alleged bribery scandal has left several other students’ academic journey in limbo. According to the other affected students in a March 16, 2011 letter addressed to Dr. Dennis, the closure of the class on the eve of the semester’s climax was not only shocking for them but also did not do them academic justice.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the manner in which the investigation was conducted, the concerned students of the course wrote: “The investigation committee to probe the allegation……..did not complete their findings when the decision was made to cancel the class…..We humbly seek a redress in this matter for a reconsideration of the decision made against us. We are also suggesting that the University provides another instructor to give us an exam”.
 ‘Enough Smoke For Dismissal’: Dr. Dennis however told FPA that the situation was the case of ‘enough smoke which almost blinded his eyes’, implying enough evidence.
“When smoke is too much that almost got me blinded, you take an action”, the UL President told FPA via mobile.
Citing enough malfeasants that are making academics ‘too bad’ Dr. Dennis continued: “When these things happen, they happen in a draconian way. This is not a court case, this is academic.”
The UL President told FPA to get his Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Momolu Gataweh who could however not be reached throughout the weekend.