The late Dean of SAS, Professor Idorenyin Udoesen Akpan, was remembered for his personality and contributions to the University. He passed away on October 29, three years ago.
The occasion was used to formalize the naming of the Communications & Multimedia Laboratory in his memory. His widow and acting Director of the Writing Center, Emilienne Akpan, received the plaque in this respect and a very special frame as a gift.
Until his death, Dr. Akpan was the fourth substantive dean of the School of Arts & Sciences and the Chair of the CMD program. AUN honored him with the Outstanding Faculty of the Year award in 2010. At the time of his passing, Dr. Akpan was an associate professor. Having fulfilled all the requirements, he was posthumously promoted to full professor by the Board of Trustees.
Present at the October 25 gathering were President Dekle, AVP HR & Planning Nourah Bamalli, Interim Dean of SAS Patrick Fay, Assistant Professor of Advertising/Public Relations Dr. Presly Obukoadata, and Senior Director of University Events and Publications Usoh Usoh.
Each person spoke of his memories of the late professor. Mr. Bamalli, who considers the former colleague as a friend, also described him as a great man.
“Akpan lived a very good life. He was a great man… What you are doing, you are making him happy wherever he is because these two children, with the way he was talking about them to me, you are looking after them well.”
While Dean Fay was not fortunate to meet the late professor at AUN, he has heard greatly of him.
“I have been talking to people about him and the first response I got is that he was a nice man, friendly, and always smiling… By the photographs I saw of him, he was always well dressed, with a bow tie. He was absolutely passionate about the development of AUN… He was very active in his job as dean. He has left his mark on us.”
Dr. Obukoadata, mentored by Dean Akpan, spoke of how he was a very cheerful and friendly man.
“To demonstrate his sense of humor and congeniality, Akpan would come to this place [A&S Building] very early in the morning. He would walk through every single office in this block, open the door, make sure he says a kind word to you, and if you are not there, he would come back again… So the day he died, the whole place was a little bit dark even though there was light.”
President Dekle commended Mrs. Akpan for not leaving the university and her work.
“I’m honored that I am invited into this group who actually knew your husband. You can call me your friend. I hope that I can earn the right to be your sister one day. And I’m just happy to be part of the community that would do this for someone who was not only doing his work but also saying nice things each morning to all of his colleagues.”
President Dekle asked for a moment of silence in his honor, urging friends to always remember his ideals.
“I always judge men by whom they marry. Emilienne, you are an incredible woman. So, he must have been incredible to be married to you. I think we can continue the story because we can carry him forward--in our hearts, in the photographs. He lives.”
And he continues to live. In reminiscence, Mrs. Akpan said his ideology still lives.
“I know he lives on in so many people. He lives on in me, in the girls. He lives on too in the ideas he shared, the character he exhibited in the words of encouragement that he used to build others up. He may not have much to give everyone, but I know he always had a word to give as Dr. Presly said.”
Mrs. Akpan spoke of how the dean was very committed to the AUN vision and the school that was entrusted to him.
“Thank you all so much for remembering him because I know AUN was his life. And that I’m not just saying. He always had his AUN pin on him, wherever he was. If it was not in his clothes, it was in his hat. So, he spoke AUN. He breathed AUN. This was home.”
Qualities such as kindness, hard work, and cheerfulness stood out when she described her late husband.
“He always made sure that you had a smile on your face… He passed, yes; that changed so much for me. It changed so much for all of us, but I’m grateful that you remembered him kindly because he was a kind man. And he was also very hardworking. AUN is home to me and the girls. Yola is home and he made that possible.”
She thanked the university community immensely for the support given that has made AUN remain home to them. “And I thank the AUN family for the fellowship, for the love…. The support network is amazing.”
By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa