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HISTORY OF THE FACULTY OF ARTS
At the inception of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU/UNIZIK) Awka, in 1991 as an autonomous university, it inherited seven faculties from its mother university, the defunct Anambra State University of Technology (ASUTECH). The Faculties are: Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Management Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. As at that time, the Faculties of Arts, Environmental Sciences, Health Sciences and Technology Pharmaceutical Sciences and Agriculture were not part of the system.
However, in view of the fact that at its inception Nnamdi Azikiwe University was made a conventional university, whose areas of study were to cut across many academic disciplines, including the Arts and in appreciation of the role played by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (whom the University is named after, in the development of human society through the liberal arts), the authorities of the University welcomed the idea of Faculty of Arts and the others as a way of meeting the demands of the Nigerian society. Thus, in setting a motion for a new Faculty of Arts, the following were proposed as forming the component Departments:
English Language and Literature
Fine and Applied Arts
Modern European Languages
The National Universities Commission (NUC) was said to have denied an approval for the immediate take off of the new Faculty. Arising from this development was the deployment of some of the staff already recruited for the proposed Faculty to other Departments in the University. In line with this policy on deployment, while Dr. C.C. Agbodike (later, professor and now of blessed memory) was deployed to the Department of Political Science. Mr. F. O. E. Okafor went to the Department of Economics, the Rev. Canon Dr. D.C. Okeke and the now retired Rev. Msgr. Dr. J.P.C. Nzomiwu (both now professors) were deployed to the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology; the rest of the already recruited lecturers were deployed to the Department of Education. Resulting from the foregoing was the recruitment (in December 1992) of 19 lecturers (mostly from the Anambra Sate College of Education, Awka) to constitute the foundation staff of the new Faculty. At that time, the staff recruited were to cover the Programmes of English, Modern European Languages, African languages, Linguistics, Fine and Applied Arts, Music, History and Archaeology, and Religious Studies. Over time, two additional lecturers were recruited to pioneer the degree programmes in Philosophy and Theatre Arts.
Meanwhile, and subsequent upon several representations on the subject by the University, the NUC was to approve the establishment of a Department of Arts, instead of a Faculty of Arts. The implication of this was that the originally proposed cognate Departments were to be constituted as Academic Units in the Department of Arts. The proposed Department of Arts was, as it were, was to be brought under the Faculty of Social Sciences which henceforth, was to be known and addressed as the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Appropriately, the new Department of Arts took off in the 1992/1993 academic session under Mr. John Kamen as its pioneer Coordinator. Mr. Kamen was succeeded by Dr. C.C. Agbodike (later, professor and now of blessed memory) in 1994. In 1995, the Very Rev. Msgr. Dr. J.P.C. Nzomiwu (later professor, and now retired) took over the Co-ordinatorship of the Arts Department and was later succeeded by Dr. E. Mbanugo (later, professor) in late 1998.
In the meantime, and beginning from the 1992/1993 academic session, some of the academic units in the Department of Arts commenced academic activities in the University. For instance, and for the above mentioned session, work commenced in the English, Fine and Applied Arts as well as African languages (Igbo) Units.
In 1993/1994, History, Music, Religious Studies, Modern European Languages, and Theater Arts took off. In the 1996/1997 academic session, Linguistics came on stream; and during the 1997/1998 academic year, academic activities began in the Philosophy Unit.
A COMPELLING NEED FOR A FULL-FLEDGED FACULTY
As was to be expected, the lumping together of academic programmes that should be separate, independent Departments into a single Department eventually posed managerial as well as logistical problems. It was in the midst of these problems that the need to revisit the issue of full-fledged cognate Departments arose once again.
In order to realize this arrangement in the 1998/1999 academic session, the University Management under the leadership of Professor Pita Ejiofor as the Vice Chancellor took formal steps to apply for the elevation of the Department of Arts to a full-fledged Faculty of Arts. In a letter Ref: NAU/VC/VOLL. III of 3rd May, 1999 to the NUC, the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Ejiofor, had among other issues, stressed the need for a full Arts Studies as an instrument to broaden and liberalize the human mind, hence, the request for the elevation of the Department of Arts to a full-fledged Faculty of Arts.
On its part, the NUC, in reply to the Vice Chancellor’s letter, emphasized the need for the University to give details of the available facilities on ground for the proposed Faculty of Arts. In a letter Ref: NUC/AP/15 of August 16 1999, to the Vice Chancellor, the NUC was emphatic in requesting the University to supply it with more information regarding the state of classrooms and lecture theatres. The letter also underscored the need for the University to improve on library space, equipment and holdings for the proposed Faculty, in view of the expected number of programmes to be undertaken.
Furthermore, the letter requested the University to provide separate information on the resultant Faculty of Social Sciences, as a result of the likely de-merger of the Arts and Social Sciences into two distinct Faculties.
The NUC letter prompted the existing Task Force on the Projected Faculty of Arts, chaired by the then Dr. C. C. Agbodike (later, professor and now of blessed memory), to convene a meeting of all the Heads of Departments of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. On 23rd August, 1999, the status of the Arts Department was elevated to the position of the Associate Faculty of Arts, with all the component academic programmes/units designated as sub-Departments.
In a circular Ref: NAU/VC/208 VOL.II of 28th September, 1999 to the University community, Professor Pita Ejiofor, the then Vice Chancellor, made public the creation of the Associate Faculty of Arts with the Rev. Fr. Professor Edmund Ikenga Metuh as the pioneer Associate Dean. The creation of the Associate Faculty of Arts was strengthened by the observations in July 1999, of the Visitation Panel to the University constituted by the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo. The Visitation Panel had drawn attention to the situation in which the Department of Arts ran ten separate degree programmes/units. The Panel recommended “the creation of each of these programmes into separate Departments and on account of their number and variety, the ten Departments should make a Faculty of Arts”.
While the establishment of the Department of Arts may have been the brainchild of the NUC, the creation of an Associate Faculty of Arts could best be described as an internal arrangement by the then University Administration to boost the study of the Liberal Arts.
In both cases, however, the quest for the study of Art Courses benefited immensely. In addition, at each stage, the University Administrators did not relent in their efforts they undertook every conceivable and imaginable ideas towards the attainment of full-fledged status for the Faculty of Arts. As at the time of the creation of the Associate Faculty of Arts, data on available spaces and library holdings as required by the NUC was packaged and forwarded to the Vice Chancellor for onward transmission to the NUC office in Abuja.
Besides, several other representations in the form of letters were written by the University to the NUC on the subject. Among these representations was the memo Ref: NAU/VC/183/VOL.IV of September 20, 2000, which the Vice Chancellor handed over to a visiting official of the NUC for onward transmission to the NUC office in Abuja. However, of all the correspondences between the University and the NUC on the subject of an Arts Faculty in the University, the most outstanding that impacted greatly on the University Community was the NUC’s letter of November, 2000. In the letter, Ref: NUC/AP/151, dated 23rd November, 2000, and signed by Professor I.I. Uvah, NUC’s Director of Academic Planning, on behalf of the Executive Secretary, the University Community was informed of the approval of a de-merging of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
By implication, the NUC had given approval for a full-fledged Faculty of Arts in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. The establishment of a full-fledged Faculty of Arts in the University pre-supposed the attainment of full Departmental status by what had at various times been known as academic Units or sub-Departments. Of these, Fine and Applied Arts was moved from the Faculty of Arts to the Faculty of Environmental Sciences in 2008.
The Faculty of Arts which started its life in the former “permanent site” of the University near the Col. Rufai D’Garba Square was transferred to the structures formerly housing the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Cardinal Arinze Avenue, opposite Bank Avenue. Work on the permanent Faculty of Arts building also on the Cardinal Arinze Avenue commenced in 2009. The staff of this great Faculty moved into the new Faculty of Arts building in 2016.