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The University of Liberia (UL) is a publicly funded institution of higher learning located in Monroviamarker, Liberiamarker. Authorized by the national government in 1851, the school opened in 1863 as Liberia College and became a university in 1951. The school is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in West Africa and is accredited by the Liberian Commission on Higher Education. Civil wars have disrupted and damaged the school over the last three decades.

The University of Liberia has six colleges, three professional schools (including a law school and medical school), and three graduate programs with a total of 18,000 students at its three campuses in and around the country's capital city. UL also has a five institutes for study in areas such as the Chinese language and population research. The law school is the only law school in Liberia. Graduates of the school have gone on to leadership roles in Liberian politics including former President Arthur Barclay.


In 1847, Liberia declared its independence from the American Colonization Society and in 1851 the new national legislature authorized the creation of a state college and chartered Liberia College. Financing for the school was provided by the New York Colonization Society and the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia, both United Statesmarker organizations. These two groups provided almost all of the funds for the school during the 19th century and were responsible for hiring the faculty.

After authorization, groups from Clay Ashland and Monrovia maneuvered in political circles in an attempt to have the school located in their cities, with the location eventually chosen as the capital city. This political battle delayed the foundation of the school. On January 25, 1858, the cornerstone of the first building was laid in Monrovia, and in January 1862 the school was inaugurated, with classes beginning in 1863. The nation’s first president, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, became the school’s first president in 1862, and served in that post until 1876.

Students and faculty in the 1890s
Seven men made up the first class of students, with a college preparatory division adding 18 students to the enrollment two months later. In addition to American financing, colleges and individuals from the United States also donated books and even the bricks and lumber used to construct the school’s building. At opening, the school's library had an estimated 4,000 volumes. Once classes opened, the curriculum was the standard courses typical at American colleges at that time with course such as rhetoric and Latin. Part of the impetus to start the school was a concern that some Liberians were already leaving the nation to study in Great Britainmarker, which American backers thought might lead to a move away from the republican form of government.

During the 19th century, sophomores and freshmen would battle each other in an annual ritual over whether the freshmen were allowed to wear trousers. From 1866 to 1902 the school had a total of 10 graduates with long periods between the granting of degrees. Under the leadership of Edward Wilmot Blyden, school president from 1881 to 1884, women were allowed to enroll at the school in the preparatory department. During the 1800s the school and country suffered from class and caste conflicts, which led to the temporary closure of Liberia College on several occasions in the 1890s. R. B. Richardson was the first alumnus to become the president of the school.

20th century

The School of Forestry at the college was founded in 1942 by Stephen A. Tolbert, who also served as dean of that school until 1960. Enrollment increased at the university to approximately 70 students in 1948 and to 100 in 1950. In 1951, J. Max Bond, Sr. helped to convert the college into the University of Liberia. Also in 1951, the Law School was established and named after former Liberia Supreme Courtmarker Chief Justice Louis Arthur Grimes. In 1956, the now university had an enrollment of 259 students.
Liberia College in 1893
In 1968, a medical school was added to the university. Due to civil strife in the country, the school has closed on several occasions including in 1979, 1984, and 1990. In one incident in 1984, students and the faculty of the University of Liberia protested the arrest of two faculty members by the Liberian government. Liberian President Samuel K. Doe sent the Liberian Army to attack the school on August 22 1984, leading to several deaths, more than one hundred injured, a three month closure, and destruction of some of the facilities. The school did not grant any degrees from 1989 to 1996 due to the fighting from the First Liberian Civil War. When UL re-opened in 1997 enrollment totaled 6,000 students, though the civil war had damaged facilities at the university and led many of the faculty to leave the country. The last of the strife ended with the conclusion of the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
The campus in 2009

In 2007, the American Bar Association paid for renovations to the law school. In April of that year the university opened a new 200 computer digital center paid for by a private company. In June 2007, the school’s president suspended classes after a faculty strike over back wages owed by the government, with classes re-opened in July. In February 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush visited the campus during a state visit to Liberia. Chinamarker funded a USD $21.5 million expansion at the Fendall Campus that began in April 2008 and will add more than five buildings to the campus. In March 2009, construction began at that campus of the new Angie Brooks International Center for Women's Research, Peace and Security, named in honor of Angie Brooks who was the first female president of the United Nations General Assembly. Emmet Dennis became the 13th president of the university that month as enrollment topped 18,000.


The university is the oldest degree-granting school in West Africa, and is accredited by Liberia’s Commission on Higher Education. Classes at the school are taught in English with the academic year running from March through December. Undergraduate students earn bachelor degrees after four years of instruction, while the graduate programs offer masters degrees after two years of post-graduate work. Doctorates in medicine are conferred after the completion of a seven year program.

The school is divided into six colleges, three graduate programs, and three professional schools. As of 2009, there are 18,000 total students enrolled at the university in all departments. Colleges at the University of Liberia include the Liberia College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the College of Business and Public Administration, the College of General Studies, and the T. J. R. Faulkner College of Science and Technology. Additionally, there are the William V. S. Tubman Teachers College and the William R. Tolbert College of Agriculture and Forestry, both named after former presidents of the nation.
Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, the only law school in Liberia, was added in to the university in 1951. The A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine was opened in a partnership between Italy's A. M. Dogliotti Foundation and the government of Liberia. Students of the medical school are required to give one year of service in rural areas after graduation. The School of Pharmacy is the third professional school, while graduate programs include the Ibrahim B. Babangida Graduate Program in International Relations, the Graduate Program in Regional Science, and the Graduate Program in Education Administration.

In addition to the schools and departments of study, UL also houses several institutes. These five institutes are the Institute for Research, Institute for Population Studies, Kofi A. Annan Center for Conflict Transformation, Center for Millennium Development Goals, and the Confucius Institute. The Confucius Institute teaches the Chinese language and is in cooperation with the Changsha University of Science and Technology.


The publicly funded university is divided up into three campuses. The main, original campus in downtown Monrovia, a medical campus, and the Fendall campus, located about 14 miles northeast of Monrovia. The College of Agriculture and Forestry is located at the rural Fendell Campus. The university provides four buses to transport students between these campuses. The main campus was originally designed by J. Max Bond, Sr., who the president of the school in the early 1950s. Radio station LUX 106.6 FM is operated by the school.

Notable alumni

Alumni of the school includes past and present Liberian politicians and academics. These include Liberia's Vice President Joseph Boakai and former presidents Arthur Barclay and Joseph James Cheeseman. Candidates for the 2005 Presidential Election included UL alums Nathaniel Barnes, Varney Sherman, Togba-Nah Tipoteh, and Joseph Woah-Tee. Both the chairperson, Jerome Verdier, and the vice-chair, Dede Dolopei, of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are alumni of the school. Other alumni are attorney Francis Y.S. Garlawolu, Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis, politician Charles Brumskine, and Foreign Minister Olubanke King Akerele, among others.

Former presidents and faculty


External links

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