SENEGAL: University of Thiès rector dismissed

Senegal's President Aboulaye Wade has dismissed the rector of the troubled University of Thiès, Professor Pape Ibra Samb, and appointed in his place Professor Cheikh Saad Bouh Boye, dean of the medical faculty of Ucad, the University Cheikh Anwar Diop of Dakar.

Samb, former director of the Ecole nationale supérieure d'agronomie in Ensa, took over as first rector of Thiès when the university opened in early 2007.

The new institution was intended to centralise the four existing engineering schools - Ensa, the Polytechnique of Thiès (EPT), the Ecole nationale de cadres ruraux (ENCR) de Bambey, and the Institut de Sciences de la Terre (IST).

Unfortunately, reported Wal Fadjri of Dakar, the plan did not work. EPT, which was supposed to house the new university but which had no premises of its own for teaching, soon indicated it wanted to beak away.

Since 2007, said Wal Fadjri, EPT's teachers and students had been demonstrating and striking for autonomy.

Before his dismissal, as Samb was trying to set up the new university, a series of crises took place, said the paper.

Protests did not involve only the EPT. In 2009 students at the former ENCR, which had become the Institut supérieur de formation agricole et rurale, went on strike demanding the institute revert to its original name.

In January this year rioting students at Ensa caused widespread damage in protests against postponement of the start of the new semester. In March students from the university went on hunger strike, leading to the minister promising completion of the unfinished building works they were protesting about.

According to Wal Fadjri, lack of infrastructure was the main problem of the university, "which squats in premises throughout the town and outside". In July, the regional governor of Thiès authorised engineering students to hold a march demanding funds for their school, an act of 'interference' that led to Samb complaining to the interior ministry.

This was an episode, said Wal Fadjri, "that without doubt led to a certain tension between the representative of the regional authority and the former rector".

But Wal Fadjri paid tribute to the departing rector, saying Samb "had the merit of guiding the first steps of this young university that had risen from nothing. He struggled to build an educational service with disciplines ranging from agronomy to stock breeding through to tourism, law, social sciences and computer studies. He recruited teachers and administrative staff".

The paper added that Samb had also fought to bring teachers' and other staff salaries into line with their colleagues at Ucad, and "sold the image of the University of Thiès to the outside".

Boye, his successor, arrives from Ucad where he was dean of the faculty of medicine. A specialist in biology, he graduated from the University of Dakar and the Insitut Pasteur in Paris, and carried out the first complete study on HIV during his internship at the University of Harvard in the US, reported Le Soleil of Dakar.