A Brief History of the Faculty

The Faculty of Arts is one of the first four foundation faculties of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka which commenced academic activities in 1960 with six departments. Two of these – English and History – became the core departments of the Faculty of Arts when the institution grouped its academic units into faculties. The creation of the faculty in 1960 was in line with one of the four factors which formed the background of the philosophy founding the University. The Faculty was established to preserve the dignity of the African, as expressed by the National Congress of British West Africa when the struggle for national self-determination was at its earliest. No doubt, the faculty was to fill this need considering the fact that Nigerian history and culture appeared to have been relegated by the colonial powers. The University needed to take into account the historical and cultural aspects of Nigeria. Too much emphasis must not be placed upon science, technology and rationalism at the expense of the history of the independent nation. Therefore, it was the belief of the advisers that the Faculty of Arts should receive pioneer attention in the plans of the University.

Over the course of 54 years, the faculty has also grown and expanded. Within the first few years of the faculty’s establishment, it operated with only 24 academic staff members but today, the Faculty boasts of over 180 well-qualified academics committed to the core values and philosophy of the University. The first Dean of the Faculty was a Briton, Dr. J. A. Noonan (later Professor Noonan). He was succeeded as Dean in 1965 by Professor M. A. Achufusi of the Department of History, who returned from Leipzig, Germany to contribute to the development of the Nigerian educational system in the wake of independence. Professor Achufusi became the first Nigerian to head the Faculty. Other Deans since then are: Professor Adiele Afigbo, Professor S.C. Ukpabi, Professor Benson Oluikpe, Professor Elizabeth Ihekwazu, Professor E.P. Modum, Professor A.U. Ohaegbu, Professor S.A. Ekwelie, Professor V.E. Chikwendu, Professor Emeka Nwabueze, Professor O.N. Njoku, Professor O. K. Oyeoku, Professor D.U. Opata, Professor Inno Nwadike, Professor Edwin Okafor and Professor Uchenna Anyanwu. The current Dean of Arts is Professor Pat Uche Okpoko.

Numerical growth in staff and student population has been witnessed over the decades. A faculty that started with 81 students in 1960 – 47 students in History Department and 34 students in English Department – has grown numerically and can boast of about 5000 students and robust academic programmes in different disciplines. From two departments, the Faculty has grown and now has nine departments. The departments are History and International Studies, English and Literary Studies, Archaeology and Tourism, Foreign Languages and Literary Studies, Fine and Applied Arts, Theatre and Film Studies, Linguistics, Igbo and other Nigerian Languages, Mass Communication and Music.

The Department of History and International Studies was one of the pioneer departments of the university. Initially named History and Archaeology until 1981, the Department has undergone changes in reaction to academic and global market forces of demand and supply. On September 29, 2004, the University Senate approved the revised programme and name change from History Department to Department of History and International Studies. In the same vein, the Department of English, which had Dramatic Arts as a sub-department, had its name changed in 2004 to Department of English and Literary Studies after reviewing its curriculum to address current national needs.

The Department of Linguistics, Igbo and Other Nigerian Languages started as a sub-department under the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in 1974, and in 1981, it gained its autonomy as a full-fledged Department. Dr. P.A. Nwachukwu was its pioneer Head of Department. The Department was until 2005 called and referred to as Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages.

In 1961, the Department of Mass Communication, then known as the Jackson College of Journalism was established at the University of Nigeria. In 2006, the Department started PGD and Ph.D programmes and revised its Masters programme. In 2007, the department acquired fully digitized radio and TV studios.

The Department of Fine and Applied Arts was founded in 1961 and since inception has developed and popularized Igbo patterns for body and wall painting known as Uli. It has produced world-acclaimed artists in all aspects of the course.

The Department of Theatre and Film Studies, also known as the Robeson School of Dramatics is named after renowned African-America actor Paul Robeson. It started as sub-department of Dramatic Arts. The department achieved a full departmental status in 2004 and since then it has graduated many students at first degree and higher degree levels.

The Department of Archaeology was founded on August 1, 1981, when the department separated from the Department of History. It began with a B.A. Combined Honours Programme. In 1985, the single honours programme was introduced. In an attempt to bring the departmental programme in line with current trends in Archaeology as well as the desire to equip students to face the challenges posed by today’s globalized environment, the Department of Archaeology in 2004 developed an embracing curriculum leading to B.A. Hons in Archaeology and B.A. Hons in Tourism, lately changed to B. A. Hons in Archaeology and Tourism. Consequently, the department changed its name to Archaeology and Tourism, and awards in addition PG.D, M.A. and Ph.D degrees.

The Department of Foreign Languages and Literature was first established in 1961 under the name, Department of Languages. Subsequently, the Department was renamed Department of Foreign Languages and then later, Department of Foreign Languages and Literary Studies. It offers French as the major degree programme and German, Russian and Spanish as subsidiaries.

The Department of Music has also been productive since inception in 1961. It was the first autonomous university department of music in Nigeria. It is in fact the mother of all the Departments of Music in Nigerian universities. Its programmes are designed to produce skillful, versatile and experienced musicians and musicologists, emphasis being placed on performance and competence. The graduates and diplomats are trained to appreciate, analyze, practice and communicate African and world music as performance as well as literary art.

The motto of the faculty is Arts for Living. This motto aptly captures the academic and creative engagements of the faculty. The faculty has since its inception graduated hundreds of doctoral candidates and thousands of Masters and bachelors degree students who are well placed and are helping to develop society in virtually all fields of endeavor both at home and abroad.