The Inauguration of its 1st Alumni Association Lecture and Lunching of Alumni Trust Fund.

Vice ‐ Chancellor of the University of Lagos
Dean, faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos
Faculty Staff and Students of the University of Lagos
Fellow Alumni
Members of ULEC 69/72
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

PREAMBLE

Permit me to begin this lecture by thanking God Almighty, the maker of the Heavens and Earth who has made it possible for most of us here present to pass through this great institution called the University of Lagos. We are what we are today by the Grace of God and by the identity of the University of Lagos in general and the reputation of the Faculty of Engineering in particular.
I first set my feet on the grounds of UNILAG in 1968. I was then a final year Advance Level Student of the Federal School of Science, Onikan Lagos. I was studying Pure Maths, Applied maths and Physics, to prepare me for a degree in Engineering.
A few years earlier, I had made up my mind to study mechanical engineering in order to become a member of the group of men and women who were performing miracles and wonders.
“ While in college, I had admired many things I saw around me. How people had made beautiful cars out of ordinary metal, rubber and plastics. While holidaying in Lagos, I had visited the airport and could not help gazing at the metal birds called aeroplane. How they leapt up from the runways, flew thousands of kilometres, located the appropriate destination and landed in safety. God made man and all the materials in the universe, I bow before Him. But man made the cars, aeroplanes, ships, clothes of wonderful colours and designs, trains and all sorts of engines and buildings ”
At another time I would sit at Marina, Lagos or the Bar Beach watching ships loaded with containers, vehicles and other heavy objects. They were floating and did not sink. I would pick a stone and threw it into the sea, the small stone would sink.
In my young mind, these were like miracles.
I did not know about the law of floatation until much later.
My admission to study Mechanical Engineering in 1969 was a dream fulfilled. Many of my colleagues are present here today and we style ourselves ULEC 69/72. UP ULEC.
We came in as students in 1969 and became Alumni of the faculty in 1972. ULEC 69/72 remains a platform for sustaining our friendship and we have remained close friends since our departure from Unilag. I will like to specially recognise members of ULEC 69/72 here present, by a show of hands.
Thank you and God bless you.

We have identified with the faculty of Engineering and offered some supports in our own little way and hope that after today’s inauguration, the enlarged Alumni Association will do much more to support development programs of the faculty. I recall my days in the university as a Federal Government Scholar. I, therefore, did not suffer any distraction with respect to the payment of school fees. The faculty of Engineering building was and is still a mass of concrete from foundation to roof level. It is unique and there is no one like it in any other university I have visited. The lecturers were very thorough and helpful.
We called some of them Dr. Rigour. I do not want to mention specific names but suffice it to say that we enjoyed our days in Unilag and are happy to keep our relationship with the institution and to give back to the faculty some of what the faculty has given to us.

INTRODUCTION

The American Heritage Dictionary of English Language (2000) defines ‘ALUMNI’ as all graduates or former students of a school, college or university. The Free Encyclopaedia (2011) says the word ALUMNI is a plural of Alumnus, which basically refers to a male graduate of an institution.
The female graduate, is called Alumna and its plural is Alumnae. However the term ALUMNI is used to refer to a group of graduates that contain both genders. The word Alumnus or Alumna is derived from the Latin word ‘Alere’ which means “to nourish”.
Thus, when these former students or graduates come together for the purpose of establishing strong relationships with their former universities and to nourish its development, they become known as ‘ALUMNI ASSOCIATION‘ of those universities (Singer and Hughey, 2002; Christensen, 2010) Since decades ago, societies of former students have been existing in order to assist their universities with a number of service delivery activities. In developed countries, the history of Alumni Association dates back as far as the establishment of the respective educational institutions (Chadamoyo and Dumbu, 2012).
The Relationship of an Alumnus or Alumna with his or her university is like that of a child with his or her parents. Just as our parents played significant roles in our upbringing, so also are the institutions that we attended played major roles to what we have become today. As good children, we have an obligation to take care of our parents and to show our appreciation for the seeds they sewed in our lives. In the same way, we have a duty as Alumni to support this great institution, the University of Lagos and its Faculty of Engineering in particular.

ROLES OF ALUMNI ASSOCIATION/BENEFITS TO THE UNIVERSITY

The main aims of an alumni Association are to:

FUND RAISING ACTIVITIES

Fund raised from Alumni of an institution can form a major contribution to the institution’s annual budget. Fund raising however, is hard work. Harrell (2010) confirms that reaching out to graduates is a momentous task. The university database must be updated with current address and telephone numbers etc. of members.

  1. Fund Raising can take the form of an annual dinner where alumni, friends of the institution, corporations and wealthy individuals of proven integrity in the society are invited for a social evening in a venue with good ambience, music, food and drinks. Donations, pledges, grants which are taken at such event are credited to the designated account of the institution‘s Association. Funds can also be raised in this way to support the development of a specific project in the university such as faculty building, library, procurement of workshop equipment etc.
    About 41.9% of all alumni in the USA are donors to their undergraduate institutions. Sung and Yang (2009) claims that about 25% of university graduates worldwide give back to the institutions that moulded them.
  2. The second method of raising funds for the institution is from membership dues. The larger the membership of the Alumni Association, the more the dues that can accrue from this source. However, many members prefer free membership option. In a research carried out by Kelsey Fraser and Joe Le Master, as much as 38% and 21% of funds raised accrued from membership dues and corporate sponsorship respectively. The university will have to consider the pros and cons of fee paying and free membership options.
  3. The third option is from our Alumni in diaspora. The fact that a large number of our Alumni is working overseas is a confirmation that they are well trained by our local institutions. In addition to the dues or donations to their alma mater, their employers should contribute to the cost of training them so that we can train more professionals for them. In this way we turn brain drain to brain gain.
    Alumni in diaspora should encourage and promote faculty and student exchange programs with the overseas institutions where they are working.


MODE OF OPERATION (MODUS OPERANDI)

Alumni Association can be formal or informal. It can be dependent or independent of the Alumni Relations Office of the university.
a. Independent:
It is registered as a non-for-profit organisation. It has its own staff to plan and operate its logistics. It is free from the bureaucracy of the University system.
b. Interdependent:
Although the Association maintains a separate corporate status, but operates as a division of the university. The staff are university employees. The advantage is that the Association and Institution have a common strategic goal. The office is run at no cost to the Association. It also eliminates confusion when dealing with external partners and donors.
c. Dependent:
In this case the Association is fully integrated into the institution‘s operational system. The Faculty Board should consider the options and choose the model that is most suitable to our peculiar circumstances.

Conclusion

“The best investment any of us can ever make is in the lives of others. The returns are tremendous ” says Bill Gates
The Faculty of Engineering of the University of Lagos, our faculty, our University is calling on all of us to invest in the development of the institution that gave its best to us.
Let us remember that every matter remains in a state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line except a force acts on it.
We are the force and the time for ACTION is NOW.
If we do NOTHING we shall accomplish NOTHING. Therefore, we must ARISE and start to do SOMETHING to answer the call. I trust that those of us present here today will set the ball rolling. We must spread the word to our colleagues within and outside Nigeria. Let us make UNILAG Faculty of Engineering the best in Africa. Our children and grandchildren will be proud of us. I KNOW WE CAN. YES, WE CAN. AND WE WILL
God bless you.

Engr. Charles A. Aladewolu FNSE