To say that the issue of Dominium has manned Sierra Leone’s Public Sphere is a painful elaboration of the obvious. In most of the arguments, I see no issues if not non-issues. First, let us be specific that even where the institution is yet to be fully accredited and recognized by Sierra Leone’s Tertiary Education Commission, it has to be noted that the institution was merely attempting to issue out honorary PhDs. For obvious reasons, we know that the place cannot and should not do that, but let’s talk on what honorary degrees mean in general.

An honorary degree is deemed to be an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived all of the usual requirements. It is also known by the Latin phrases honoris causa (“for the sake of the honour”) or ad honorem (“to the honour”). The degree is typically a doctorate or, less commonly, a masters degree, and may be awarded to someone who has no prior connection with the academic institution or no previous postsecondary education. I will be categorical to note that if Dominium had been approved by TEC to run undergrad and graduate programs, there would have been no issue for them to issue the honorary PhDs and or lesser ones. As it stands, only the University of Sierra Leone (FBC, IPAM and COMAHS), UNIMAK, Njala and other universities that are effectively running approved undergrad and graduate programs in Sierra Leone have the ability to grant people honorary degrees. That said, we must be clearer that the honorary degree of whatever nature is not earned by academic rigor etc.

The degree is often conferred as a way of honouring a distinguished visitor’s contributions to a specific field or to society in general. In fact as the globe currently stands, honorary degrees are accorded to people that have been supporting specific unis etc.

It is sometimes recommended that such degrees be listed in one’s curriculum vitae (CV) as an award, and not in the education section. With regard to the use of this honorific, the policies of institutions of higher education generally ask that recipients “refrain from adopting the misleading title” and that a recipient of an honorary doctorate should restrict the use of the title “Dr” before their name to any engagement with the institution of higher education in question and not within the broader community.

History has it that Theodore Hesburgh held the record for most honorary degrees, having been awarded 150 during his lifetime.

Back to Dominium – the institution should focus on attaining a grade C or B status with TEC before attempting to go for grade A even. That’d be some huge task even. What the place needs at a time like this is systematic and realistic growth and not to be dressed in infamous borrowed robes.

I hope that people making fun out of the whole issue will see some sense in these lines and moving forward, learn to make informed decisions that are clothed on reasonableness.