BRIEF HISTORY OF FACULTY OF ARTS

The University of Benin (formerly Midwest Institute of Technology) was founded on 23rd November, 1970. On 1st July, 1971, the Institute was accorded a formal recognition as a full-fledged University by the National Universities Commission of Nigeria.

With the recognition of the Institute as a full-fledged University at its temporary site at Ekehuan, the then Vice-Chancellor, Prof. T.M. Yesufu, in July 1975, established the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Before the end of 1975, scholars from different Universities in Nigeria, Europe and USA had converged at the Ekehuan temporary site of the University to ensure that the new programmes of studies took off successfully.

 

The Creation of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

In July 1975, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences came into being as an autonomous faculty with its various departments.

The Arts section of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences comprised the following two departments:

The Department of History and Creative Arts

The Department of Modern Languages

The Department of History and Creative Arts, which was headed by Dr. Paul Mbaeyi, was in two units, namely, the History Unit, headed by Dr. Paul Mbaeyi, and the Creative Arts Unit which was initially headed by Mr. M. I. Omovbude, and later by Prof. Paul Mount, a Visiting Professor. The second department was that of Modern Languages which was headed by Dr. (now Professor) R. N. Egudu. This department was also in two units, namely, the French Unit, headed by Dr. J. de-Grandsaigne and the English Unit, headed by Dr. (now Professor) R. N. Egudu.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offered courses leading to both single and combined honours degrees. The concept of combined honours was based on the recognition that the horizon of knowledge was expanding daily, and it would, therefore, be necessary to produce students with a broad-based knowledge, which can make them functional in diverse conditions of service. It was conceived that a combined honours degree will happily bring together not only the Social Sciences and Arts disciplines, but also the Humanities and the Sciences, thus breaking down traditional barriers in knowledge acquisition. Thus, between 1975 and 1978, students were not at first admitted into one department; rather all students were admitted into Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.  Although their basic areas of specialization were noted, students were allowed to differentiate to their various major departments at the end of the second year for the direct entry students, and at the end of the third year, for the prelim students. However, students did not appreciate the philosophy and the advantage in combined honours qualifications.

 

The Creation of Faculty of Arts

Professor RN Egudu became the third Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences after Professor RD Greenfield (1975-1976) and Professor PO Sada (1976-1978). The Faculty of Arts and Socials Sciences was split in 1978 under Professor Egudu and the Faculty of Arts attained a full Faculty status in that year, 1978.

The Faculty of Arts was, in turn split into the following autonomous departments:

The Department of English and Literature with Professor R. N. Egudu as Head of Department.

The Department of Modern Languages with Dr. J. De-Grandsaigne as Head of Department.

The Department of History with Professor P. A. Igbafe as the Head.

The Department of Linguistics and African Languages with Dr. (now Professor) Rebecca N. Agheyisi as the Head.

The Department of Creative Arts with Professor S. I. Wangboje as Head of the Department.

Each Department within the Faculty of Arts has fashioned out its own specific philosophy and programmes. Later, more departments and programmes were developed, as is obvious below.

 

The Deans of Faculty of Arts

The following Professors have been Deans of the Faculty:

Professor R. N. Egudu 1978-1980 (Founding Dean)

Professor S. I. Wangboje 1980-1982

Professor P. A. Igbafe 1982-1986

Professor S. E. Ogude 1986-1990

Professor R. O. Elaho 1990-1991

(First Provost of College of Humanities and Law)

Professor P. Okeh 1991-1995

Professor K. Echenim 1995-1999

Rev. Fr. (Prof.) A. D. Nzemeke 1999-20010

  1. Prof. P. A. Igbafe 2000-2002
  2.   Professor N. Otakpor 2002-2006
  3.   Professor C. O. Mokwenye 2006-2008
  4.   Professor A. O. Asagba 2008-2012
  5.   Professor O. A. Ofuani 2012-2016
  6. Professor L.E. Otoide 2016 – 2018
  7.  Professor Eddy O. Erhagbe, FHSN 2018 – date

 

The Creation of Faculty of Creative Arts (1982-1987)

The University of Benin pioneered a Creative Arts Programme since the early 1970s. First, there was a Department of History and Creative Arts which started in 1975 and continued till 1977 when the Department was split and a separate Department of Creative Arts was created. Second, following Senate approval in 1981, a Faculty of Creative Arts comprising Department of Fine Arts, Applied Arts and Theatre Arts was created in 1982. Two sub-departments (Music and Art Education) were also created at that time. These sub-departments were expected to mature into full-fledged departments later in order to complete a five-department Faculty of Creative Arts.

Based on the African concept of the indissoluble unity of the visual and the performing arts, the Faculty of Creative Arts tended to explore the interrelationship and interdependence of the arts as a cultural phenomenon. The Faculty functioned for five years (1982-87) before it was merged with the Faculty of Arts in 1987. For that period, it had two Deans, namely: Prof. S. I. Wangboje (1982-86) and Prof. C. Nelson-Cole (1986-87).

The Faculty of Creative Arts comprised the following Departments:

Department of Applied Arts: Graphic Arts; Textiles/Fashion; Ceramics; and Metal Design;

Department of Fine Arts: Painting; Sculpture; Art History; and Art Education;

Department of Theatre Arts: Drama; Music; Dance; and Television and Film Production (the later basis for the creation of a BA Mass Communication programme)