United Methodist University president removed

Johnson N. Gwaikolo works his office at United Methodist University in Liberia.  Gwaikolo is the new university president as appointed by Bishop John G. Innis. Photo by Julu Swen, UMNS
Johnson N. Gwaikolo works his office at United Methodist University in Liberia. Gwaikolo is the new university president as appointed by Bishop John G. Innis. Photo by Julu Swen, UMNS

Liberia’s United Methodist bishop has removed the president of the denomination’s university from the office he has held for more than 10 years.

Bishop John G. Innis said in a letter to the Rev. Emmanuel Bailey, president of the United Methodist University, that the decision to replace him was based on the advice of the 21 district superintendents who make up his cabinet and the university’s board of directors. Innis said the removal of Bailey or any other person within the church in Liberia was part of his administrative function.

The dean of the bishop’s cabinet, the Rev. Christopher Marshall, said Bailey’s removal was based on several administrative lapses that the church could no longer tolerate. He and other officials would not specify what those lapses were.

“He will be assigned to the UMC Liberia Sinoe District as counseling elder,” Marshall said of Bailey.

In the letter informing Bailey of his termination, Innis also praised his record at the institution. “Your leadership, I must admit, enhanced the academic and physical growth of the university,” Innis wrote.

Bailey’s employment ended Aug. 31 and Innis told him to turn all official documents and properties of the university over to the acting president. “I will appoint you to another position within the UMC Liberia as of September 1, 2015,” Innis said in the letter. Bailey has declined to talk to media about his removal.

Rotating staff

Innis said rotating heads of agencies, ministries, and programs to different jobs was part of his episcopal duty. “I have just done what I would have done at any annual conference,” he said.

The bishop appointed Johnson Gwaikolo of Tubman United Methodist Church as the acting president of the university. Prior to his appointment at Tubman, Gwaikolo served the United Methodist University as the vice president for business and finance. Gwaikolo also worked with the Liberian government in various positions before joining the university staff. He is a doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Leadership at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He is expected to graduate in December 2015.

Bailey was appointed to United Methodist University as its first president in 2000 when the university officially opened, but could not take up the position until 2007 due to another assignment in the United States. James Oliver Duncan was appointed to the lead the university instead, and Bailey took the helm of the university after Duncan’s death. The university operates three satellite campuses: the Gbarnga School of Theology (now College of Theology) in Bong County, the agriculture college in Sinoe County, and the nursing school in Nimba County.

Innis and his cabinet also made other changes within United Methodist Church staff in Liberia. Joel Jackson was removed as principal of the J. S. Pratt United Methodist School in Maryland County, the Rev. Watorson Bomosee was suspended for two months without pay as principal for the Arthur F. Kulah United Methodist School in Montserrado County for failing to attend the principal’s meeting for the United Methodist school. Henry S. Dolopei was replaced as treasurer of the Liberian Conference by James Jackson.

Swen is editor and publisher of West African Writers, an online publication about United Methodist happenings in West Africa and assists the denomination in Liberia with coverage for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5470.

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