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Presidential address by Professor Chima J Korieh, PhD, at the 2016 Annual Conference of the Igbo Studies Association, Dominican University, Chicago, USA

Dear Friends:

As we gather for yet another annual meeting of our dear association and my second annual report as your president, I would want to begin by saying that I have stood on the shoulders of our founding fathers and mother not to make history, which I and many others helped shape over the last 15 years, but to say that collectively we are “moving higher, looking farther, and leading the way forward”

As many of you are aware, we have continued to grow in numbers over the last two years. I am particularly proud of our outreach in Nigeria. My appointment as professor at the University of Nigeria Nsukka in the last one year and half was an opportunity to reach out to the scholarly community especially at Nsukka, Imo State University, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education among others. We can continue to build on these connections to strengthen our numbers and also to bring younger scholars into the fold. Today, our active membership is about 300.

I am particularly proud of the efforts we have made in the executive committee to increase our visibility online as well as continuously keep our members informed about the activities and other information about the association. Thanks to the excellent work of Dr Chidi Igwe, our Public Relations officer, we have continued to keep the ISA Newsletter which we initiated when I look office two years ago. The ISA Newsletter remains a valuable tool in our effort to disseminate important information, research news, and members’ publications.

We worked to have a new and functional website. This is a much more befitting site home for the association. I think we are again proud the work which Dr Chidi Igwe has done in not only maintaining the website but the effort we made to have our own independent link to the web. We are no longer an appendix to an individual’s private domain name.

We inaugurated the ISA Book Award named in honor of Prof Don Ohadike, with my initial pledge of $500 in support of the project. You may recall that Prof Ohadike, a preeminent Igbo Scholars and former Director of the Center for African Studies, hosted the first meeting of Igbo scholars at Connell University. That meeting gave birth to the ISA. I am sure that Don and others such Afigbo, Emmanual Obiechina, Ogbu Kalu will be proud of what we have achieved collectively. The information on book award is on our website. Members are encouraged to submit books to that meet the criteria outlined on the website to the award committee.

The Igbo Studies Review is our most important outlet to the scholarly world.  As editor of the journal, I have fulfilled my promise to ensure that the journal is published regularly and on schedule. As I mentioned in my address last year, I have initiated the process of listing the journal with Thompson Reuters by maintaining an ongoing subscription with them. The current issue will be our second submission to them. Hopefully we will have advanced in this process by next year. However, we cannot achieve this objective if we do not maintain or current tempo. I enjoin us to think of publishing in the journal. That is the only way we can raise its profile. I am glad to say that Stanford University, Northwestern University, Marquette University, and Michigan State University have found value on the journal and have requested subscription. Encourage your own university library to do so.

We can do more to take ISA higher. I think one unfinished business in the establishment of a Center for Igbo Studies here in the United State. Of course we had one which did not properly take off at Howard University. I just had a meeting with the Provost of Dominican University to explore the possibilities of having a home here that can also serve as a secretariat. I am encouraged by the enthusiasm that Dominical has shown and the supporting community where in Chicago will make this a very viable initiative.

The financial health of the association is good. As the Treasure’s report shows. We have made net gains in the last two years in terms of our income and maintaining financial integrity.

An important philosophy in the African world view is the concept of Ubuntu. I am because we. Otu osisi anaghi eme ohia. A single tree does not make a forest. I see my role as a messenger. A humble one. I resist often to use the “I”. “WE” is more embracing and recognizing of the roles and contributions of others. So I could not have shepherded the affairs of this organization I the last two years with the contributions of the executive committee which includes: The Vice President, Professor Nzewi, who also handled our conference finances in Nigeria in the last two years with great integrity. The Secretary Dr Ogechi Anywanwu who also double as the Conference chair for this years and who has done a great job of getting us all to Dominican this year. The Treasurer, Dr Ada Azodo. She is not only one of our most senior colleagues today but she has meticulously protected the integrity of our finance. We are very proud of the work she has done as Treasurer. Dr Chidi Igwe, our PRO is not here today. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. Chidi makes things happen. Our website and newsletter have been professionally done and maintained thanks to his generosity—his time. I must also recognize the counsel of two ex-officio members, the immediate past president, Dr Nwauwa and Austine Duru, the immediate past secretary. We should thank all of them for their service to the association. 

The advisory board has a three year term. They still have one year in office as per the constitution. We thank them for their continued service.

Amid the myriad challenges facing us as individual as a result of the economic downturn, the ISA continues to move forward powerfully. I am bold to say that the ISA is perhaps the only Igbo organization that has survived this long without a major crisis in its leadership, with a reputation and integrity that our financial report has never been questioned and that individuals have collectively put the association’s interest beyond individual desires.