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Professor Kehinde Okeleye, Model of Academic Excellence

The bespectacled soft-spoken gentleman came in with determination to, to re-organise, to appraise, to congregate, to impact and to contribute largely to the vision and mission of the founder. He had consulted every unit, department and college of Crescent University, Abeokuta when he clinched the appointment as its vice chancellor in December 2010. By doing this he had got a useful feedback to work on. Thenceforth, he held various interactive meetings with virtually all members of staff of the university to get acquainted with them on the one hand and to grasp their face-to-face reservation on the other hand.

Professor Okeleye smiles orders, handshakes success, leads projects, arbitrates congress, troubleshoots crisis, projects progress and midwives lofty accomplishments. He speaks lesser than he listens. My conventional wisdom tells me this is a good strength of his, an excellent tool of a two-way communicator. He gathers over 50% of solutions to problems from his subordinates' feedbacks to let them realise that their voices count in the scheme of things, although he wields his own antidotes at hand. This lends credence to a statement credited to a teacher and scholar, Alcuin Albinus(735-804) “vox populi vox dei”, meaning that “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.

At different interactions with Crescent University stakeholders (or publics), both in the north and southern parts of the country, he led his team as though the institution belonged to him. Sincerity of purpose and actions are his watchwords. A man of his words, Professor Okeleye never bullies his subordinates. He possesses qualities of a good leader. He is accessible to all. He pursues organisational goals energetically. He does not underestimate any of his staff. He motivates with commensurate rewards and allocates responsibilities judiciously and efficiently. Profesor Okeleye would take prompt actions to issues and would never impose decisions. He does not shout orders; he gives instructions with smiles and soft-spoken utterances.

In law of attraction, “likes attracts likes”. Prof Okeleye attracts friendliness with fellow professors, cordiality with his lieutenants, confidence with aides, reputation with the academic community and mutuality with the university publics. Because he has attracted dedication, focus and of course industry in the discharge of his duties, the Proprietor of the university sleeps with his two eyes closed because His Excellency, Judge Bola Ajibola is assured that a loyal general is in charge here.

When likened to a father of many children, he does not favour one over or above others. All staff members are treated based on their peculiarity. He compensates based on merit not favouritism. His romance with the National Universities Commission (NUC), Conference of Proprietors of Private Universities in Nigeria (CPPUN) and Committee of Vice Chancellors has constituted a fillip to the steady growth in development of Crescent University, Abeokuta within his stint. After all, his knowledge of academic planning, given his backgrounds, has paved way for a resounding success. In the face of challenges, he neither falters nor wobbles but keeps his head steadily, working plans and strategies for success. A personality of good reputation himself, Professor Okeleye is a good reputation manager having built good reputation for the university within a relatively short period of time. In two years virtually all the university programmes were accredited by regulatory bodies. Like an ideal father to his children, he is kind-hearted to his staff, always thinking of their welfare and development. A man of piety, he measures public and popular opinion before taking decisions. He ever appreciates good work and says thank you even to the lowest of the staff. Prof. Okeleye does not mince words—he is a straight forward leader of leaders!

When he joined the team of the university, within one year, he had separated the chaff from the grains in the academic community. To achieve his set goals, he dropped the toga of his academic zenith as though he were an ordinary member of The Crescent. He would never leave the academic warfront until resource verification and accreditation battles were won so much so that laurels National Universities Commission (NUC) programme accreditation spoils were counted to his favour.

Katib writes from Crescent University, Abeokuta via [email protected]/+2348096629914

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Articles by Idris Katib