Dept of Communications at UG launches 50th anniversary; HoD assures it’ll continue to deliver on its mandate

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The Department of Communication Studies at the University of Ghana (UG), has launched its 50th anniversary on Wednesday July 20.

In an address during the launch, the Head of Department (HoD),  Dr Abena Animwaa Yeboah-Banin recounted that in 1972, the Department was established as the Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies.

“What foresight they had in preparing the ground to provide much-needed support to Ghana’s media and communications sector of the future.

“Today, we exist as the Department of Communication Studies, a name change that has not altered our founding objectives of improving the practice and understanding of journalism and communication and adding to knowledge through research.

“We continue to deliver on this mandate and the evidence of the quality we represent through our training, research and extension activities is visible for all to see. We are very aware of our excellent legacy and compelled by it to continue to ‘excel in whatever we do’ as our University Anthem entreats us to. Over the past 50 years, we have trained communication professionals who make us proud by their exploits.”

In recorded message played at the launch, former President John Dramani Mahama who is a product of the Department said “Our Golden Jubilee gives me enormous joy.

“Today, we commemorate 50 years of scholarship and training in communication. Indeed, I can hit my chest and say proudly that 36 years ago, me too, I was here some. What a stay it was and what an impact it has made on our lives in the various fields of professional endeavours.”

Below is the full address by the Head of Department…

SPEECH DELIVERED BY

DR ABENA ANIMWAA YEBOAH-BANIN, HOD

DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION STUDIES

AT THE LAUNCH OF DCS @ 50

The Honourable Deputy Minister for Information, Mad. Fatimatu Abubakari

Vice-Chancellor, Prof Nana Aba Appiah Amfo

Representative of the UNESCO Ghana Head

Provost of the College of Education, Prof Martin Oteng Ababio

Incoming provost COE,

Dean, SICS Prof Akosua Darkwa

Former heads of the DCS

Provosts, Deans and Heads of units,

Esteemed alumni

Distinguished alumni and partners

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

I would like to begin by thanking you all for the goodwill shown the Department of Communication Studies by joining us, in person and online, for the launch of our Golden Jubilee. Allow me to acknowledge and thank all the dignitaries joining us today particularly the Honorable Deputy Minister for Information Mad. Fatimatu Abubakar and Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, our Vice-Chancellor.  I would also like to bid welcome home, even if remotely, to our special guest of honor, H.E. John Dramani Mahama.

Mad. Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, 25 years after the University of Ghana was founded, its authorities decided it was time to commence a communications programme. Hence in 1972, the Department was established as the Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies. What foresight they had in preparing the ground to provide much-needed support to Ghana’s media and communications sector of the future. Today, we exist as the Department of Communication Studies, a name change that has not altered our founding objectives of improving the practice and understanding of journalism and communication and adding to knowledge through research.

We continue to deliver on this mandate and the evidence of the quality we represent through our training, research and extension activities is visible for all to see. We are very aware of our excellent legacy and compelled by it to continue to ‘excel in whatever we do’ as our University Anthem entreats us to. Over the past 50 years, we have trained communication professionals who make us proud by their exploits. Our proud alumni include Hons. Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Nana Akomea, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid and Akua Sena Dansoa who have excelled in public service. We are also proud to call as our own, award winning journalists such as Mr Kwaku Sakyi-Addo and Mad. Dzifa Bampoh and Mad. Doreen Hammond, as well as high-achieving academics including Prof. Umaru Pate, VC of Fed. Univ. of Kashere in Nigeria, Prof. Wisdom Tettey, Deputy President of the University of Toronto and Prof Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, Rector, GIJ. Several of our alumni have also risen to become captains of industry. These include Mr Kwaku Mensa-Bonsu, Chairman of Primetime Ltd famed for its NSMQ, Mr Emmanuel Adu Sarkodie, Group Chairman of CDH Investment Holdings, Mad. Esther Cobbah, CEO of Stratcomm Africa and Mad. Adiki Ayitevie, Vice President of sustainability and external relations at Newmont.  Within the growing media development sector, our footprints are maked by the presence of Mr Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the MFWA. Hon. Deputy Minister, I could go on and on but I believe the fact that we have produced a president in the person of our special guest of honour HE John Dramani Mahama should suffice as testament to our undisputed legacy.

Our achievements transcend our alumni, however. They can also felt through the contributions of our faculty who have unapologetically fought for and promoted free media and free speech. I am sure by now names such as Profs PAV Ansah, Audrey Gadzekpo, Kwame Karikari, Ansu-Kyeremeh etc. are playing in your minds.

As I have mentioned, the University bids us to ‘excel in whatever we do’, a call that requires that we evolve with the times without losing our quality.We stand here today at what seems to be a perpetually changing media and communications landscape anchored on the power of technology and innovation. The world is changing and we must position ourselves to be part if not determine what the future holds for the fields we serve. Our theme for the celebration, “50 Years of Excellence in Communication Scholarship and Training: Reimagining the Field in a Digital Era”, captures very appropriately our celebration of the past and our desire to tackle the future head-on.

Ever-changing digital technologies have not only transformed communication practice but also require newer, more robust theorising, and testing tools to make sense of the evolutions if we are to train professionals well-fitted to current needs. I refer to professionals who must strike a fine balance between the opportunities that new technologies hold for media and communication practice (expanded and more democratic public sphere with more opportunities for contact points) and the trend towards digital capitalism that seems to fuel exploitation, polarisation and misinformation.

Accordingly, the Department restructuring its offerings to ensure its continued relevance while making them accessible to more people. We are, soon, launching four new programmes (two regular and two flexible) in Strategic Communications and Multimedia Journalism. We are also working towards introducing short courses that tackle emergent needs in industry including, for instance, on local language broadcasting. You will find a few more of what lies on the horizon for us in the anniversary brochure.

Mad. Minister, ladies and gentlemen, we are plagued by two main challenges that I wish to draw attention to. First, our small faculty size limits our ability to expand intake significantly without sacrificing quality. Our efforts at recruitment are hampered by uncompetitive remuneration and conditions of service. This is made worse by the fact that not many practitioners hold doctoral degrees, the entry-level criterion for recruitment, making the pool we can recruit from even narrower. Our hope is that alumni who have gone on to attain doctoral degrees and are working abroad would seriously begin to consider returning to support our growth either by taking up full-time appointments or short-term stays. It goes without saying also that something significant needs to change about how lecturers are remunerated in the country to enable institutions attract high calibre faculty.

The second challenge is even more inhibiting. I believe everyone here feels that our stage has become too small for the performance expected of us. Given our name and its quality associations, one would imagine that the Department is blessed with more facilities than it actually has. As most of you know this is not the case. We often stand accused of ‘not wanting to grow’. But how can we? When we don’t have class room space? When the supply of teaching resources is dwindling rather than improving? When the new technology with which to train the next generation of professionals are increasingly non-existent?

Distinguished guests, as HOD, my dream which I share with my faculty and staff is to make our quality training accessible to more people. We do want to grow. But we are caught between two rocks. I believe something has to give and as I stated earlier, our anniversary theme expresses our quest to tackle the future head-on.

The Department has begun efforts towards securing a larger, purpose-built office complex fitted with adequate teaching and learning facilities, including a fully functional production facility (with studio). Our consultations indicate that if we can secure funding, the University will give land for its construction. I believe we must cease the opportunity that this anniversary brings to rewrite our future by laying the foundation for our continued growth. In this regard, we shall be launching a fund-raising drive soon and my hope is that you will all join us in making this dream a reality.

Mad Minister, before I take my seat, permit me to express my heartfelt appreciation to all who have supported us in putting this launch event together. Our sponsors and supporters, Stanbic Bank, Primetime Ltd, Dubawa, Stratcomm Africa, Centre for Journalism Innovation & Development, Mahogany Consult, Delcielo Opticals, Posterity Communications and Moore Pictures, thank you. Special thanks also goes to our media partners, Joy News TV and Joy FM, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Business and Financial Times, Atinka FM/TV, Angel FM/TV, Graphic Communications Group Ltd, Starr FM and Radio Univers. Finally, please join me in thanking the anniversary planning committee; you made a daunting task become so seamlessly possible to execute because of your drive and ever ready spirit. Thank you. Our job has only begun and so, as they say, we move!  

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I wish us all a happy 50th anniversary. Afehyia pa!

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana

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