Professor of Economics, John Erwyn Leonard, who died last week in Abuja, was committed to progressive ideas of social justice, gender parity, and renewable energy.
His socially themed interdisciplinary scholarship was sensitive, impactful, and broadminded. It was received with critical acclaim.
Professor Leonard's last academic presentation, on Friday, October 18, was a School of Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) seminar on "Transnational Feminism: A Sympathetic Critique".
There, in the Arts & Sciences Faculty Lounge, and before a distinguished audience of senior academics, the former dean of the School of Graduate Studies delved into a comparative analytical study of the struggles of women across the globe, particularly in societies where women do not enjoy the freewheeling indulgences and liberties relished by their counterparts in the West.
He described ‘Transnational Feminism' as a "theory that across the nations the concerns of women vary so that US feminism is different from that of Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia".
He concluded that any society that devalues its women is one that cripples its economy, thus slowing the nation's development, urging countries to employ all their resources to spur on the development process and thereby raise the standard of living for all their citizens.
In what turned out to be his last seminar presentation, six days before his death on Thursday, October 24, Professor Leonard could not have asked for a more illustrious audience. Among them were SBE Dean Attahir Yusuf, Professor Linus Osuagwu, Dr. Abiodun Isiaka, Ms. Emilienne Akpan, Fardeen Dodo, and the Senior Director of University Events & Ceremonies, Usoh Usoh.
It is on record that Professor Leonard, who taught for over 22 years in the United States, and more than a decade as an international professor in Asia, Europe, and Africa, also contributed a paper on "Renewable Energy for Sustainable Growth" at a Sustainable Solutions for Growth (SSG) conference in Wroclaw, Poland, in 2018.
Reviewing the paper at a pre-conference seminar in the SAS lounge on September 13, 2018, Professor Leonard surmised that Nigeria's renewable energy capacity is relatively significant. He counseled policymakers to invest more in renewable energy and channel money saved from using less fossil fuel into funding education and healthcare.
Professor Leonard, 72, joined AUN in August 2011. He was the pioneer Dean of the School of Graduate Studies before he became the Dean of Instruction.
The AUN learning community will converge on campus Friday, November 1 for a memorial service to honor the late scholar.
"As we resume this morning from our Fall Break to the new reality that we are one less Stallion, it is important that we pause and reflect," wrote President Dekle, in her message.
"There are no goodbyes; you'll always be in our hearts. May angels sing you to heaven and your soul rest in everlasting peace."
Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost, Prof. Muhammadou Kah, also wrote about his legendary personality. "John cared about his students, his colleagues, and the Yola community. He will also be remembered by many as a very kind, compassionate, caring and courteous person."
"I will particularly remember him for his commitment to his teaching, research, and service to the AUN learning community."
The Human Resources and Planning Department also sent out its condolences in a campus-wide statement issued by AVP Nourah Bamalli.
Reported by Omorogbe Omorogiuwa & Rofiat Adekunle