From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: Cuttington College in Liberia plans graduation

Date Thu, 13 Jun 2002 13:55:02 -0400

June 13, 2002


Episcopalians: Cuttington College in Liberia plans graduation

by James Solheim

(ENS) The students and faculty of Cuttington University College 
(CUC)were driven from campus in early May because of renewed 
fighting but they have set up temporary facilities in the 
capital city of Monrovia. Despite a renewal of the civil war 
that has plagued the west African nation for almost a 
generation, the college is planning to graduate a class at the 
end of July.

"We are in our second week of classes with 558 students--and 
all is going well," reported Cuttington's president, Dr. Melvin 
Mason, in a status report at the end of May. "Our fourth 
academic year is nearing its end," he wrote. "Originally 
scheduled to end July 7, the new date is now July 28, provided 
everything holds as planned." This would be the first graduating 
class since the reopening of the campus in October 1998, after a 
previous cessation of hostilities in the country's ongoing civil 

Mason noted that the renewal of violence "has disrupted our 
plans and imposed increased financial strain upon us." He has 
appealed to Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion 
and Episcopal Relief and Development for assistance. "Operation 
Survival is our slogan."

In his descriptions of the evacuation and subsequent looting 
of the campus by "heavily armed plainclothes men," Mason said 
that the unarmed campus security force was "no match for these 
intruders." Armed men with trucks carried out "massive looting 
of houses and dormitories," taking everything left behind by the 
students. "Most homes were clearing of everything that could be 
taken away easily, including small freezers, air conditioners 
and television sets. In order to collect these items, doors were 
broken and roots were damaged to enter buildings. Now that the 
rainy season is here, the impending damage to houses and other 
buildings is incalculable," he reported.

Mason said that the marauders also killed or carried away 
livestock on the campus and surrounding area, drained a fish 
pond and "threatened to open fire upon the CUC security if they 
attempted to intervene in an effort to protect the fish ponds."

"On the other hand, the academic areas were not so badly 
looted, but much damage was done," Mason wrote in his report. 
"Academic offices were all broken into and left opened with 
documents scattered about."

He added, "In order to conduct classes in Monrovia, about 95 
percent of all equipment, academic materials and records were 
brought down," and many "contributions in kind" were given by 
individuals and agencies to help the college reconvene. Classes 
resumed May 27. There is no public water supply or electricity 
in Monrovia, so generators are being used in the building now 
leased by the college.

"We are thankful to God for protecting us in our travel, 
enabling us to obtain a suitable building and relocating safely 
on our 'new campus,'" Mason concluded.


--James Solheim is director of Episcopal News Service.

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