KNUST Appoints First Female Vice-Chancellor

The Council of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), at its 258th Special Meeting held on Thursday, June 25, 2020 has appointed Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson as the Vice-Chancellor of the University. 

Her appointment for a Four-Year Term, takeseffect from 1stAugust, 2020 to 31st July, 2024.

Professor Mrs. Dickson, Professor of Pharmacognosy until her appointment is the current Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University. She thus becomes the first female Vice-Chancellor of KNUST.

Profile of Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson

PhD, MPharm, GCAP, BPharm, FGHCPharm, MPSGH, MCPA

Prof. Mrs. Rita Akosua Dickson, the current Pro Vice-Chancellor is an alumna of KNUST. She graduated with aBachelor’s degree in Pharmacy in 1994, and undertook her National Service in the Department of Pharmacognosy, alongside her internship at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi.

She obtained an MPharm in Pharmacognosy in 1999 and was appointed as a lecturer the following year. In 2003 she was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship for a PhD at Kings’ College London, University of London, UK. Aside acquiring the PhD degree, she obtained a Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (GCAP), from the same university.

She returned to KNUST in 2007 and was promoted to the position of a Senior Lecturer in 2009 and subsequently, as an Associate Professor in 2014. Between 2011 and 2012, Prof. Dickson won a Commonwealth Academic Fellowship and spent some time at the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, University of London, United Kingdom, as a visiting scientist, researching into bioactive natural products and also as a Novartis Fellow, in collaboration with Seeding Labs in the United States.

Areas of Research Interest

Prof. Dickson is a phytochemist, focusing on bioactive natural products for the management of communicable and non-communicable diseases.

She has been working on natural products that have the following properties; anti-infective, wound-healing, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic and anti-diabetic, based on their ethnopharmacological usage.

Her research has led to the isolation, purification and structure elucidation of several bioactive natural products, including cassanefuranoditerpenoids, coumarins, alkaloids, glucosides and flavonoids with potentials as leads in drug discovery.

Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson, Vice-Chancellor of KNUST

She firmly believes that Africans have the potential to reduce the continent’s disease burden, by exploring the use of its flora and fauna to generate lead compounds and also standardise the use of natural products in the fight against diseases. She is thus, keen on phytopharmaceutical analysis and quality control of herbal medicines, to ensure their safety and efficacy.

Students Supervision and Publications

She has successfully supervised a number of MPhil and PhD students and has published extensively in her research area. She has attended and presented research papers at several local and international conferences; and has over 50 publications in peer-reviewed high impact journals.

She serves as a reviewer for several journals in pharmacognosy, natural products and phytochemistry, as well as a reviewer for South Africa’s National Research Foundation and the KNUST Research Fund (KReF).

Prof. Dickson has been actively involved in the evaluation of papers of academic staff for promotion in both local and international universities and has been an assessor and external examiner for PhD theses, locally and internationally.

She is currently the Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Ethnomedicine and Pharmacognosy and an editorial board member of International Journal of Science and Research Methodology.

Positions Held

Prof. Dickson has been the Head of Department of Pharmacognosy for three terms. Before her appointment as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, she was the Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

She has served the University on several statutory and non-statutory committees. These include the Joint University Council/Academic Board Committee on Honorary Degrees, the Quality Assurance sub-committee of the Institute of Distance Learning (IDL), Search Committee for the appointment of Provosts of Colleges of the University and West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) for the harmonisation of Pharmacy Education in the West African sub-region.

She has been a member of the Health Management Board of the University, a member of the Ghana Universities Staff Superannuation Scheme (GUSSS) management board and Welfare Services Board of KNUST.

Before her appointment, she also served as Academic Board representative, Senior Staff Appointments and Promotions and as Academic Board representative for KNUST at Garden City University College.

She also served as the Chairman of KNUST Basic Schools’ Management Board. As a Dean, she was the Chairman of the Faculty Board and a member of the College of Health Sciences Board.

She is a Board member of the Ghana Pharmacy Council and Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. Before her appointment, she was the Chairperson of the Education sub-committee of the Pharmacy Council and serves as an examiner in the Ghana Pharmacy Council Professional Qualifying Examination for pharmacy graduates.

She also served on the Continuous Professional Development Technical Committee of the Pharmacy Council. As a fellow of the Ghana College of Pharmacists, she has served on several committees, locally and internationally, in the area of Pharmacy Education and Training. She is currently a member of the Steering Committee of the Ghana National Medicines Policy Programme.

Prof. Rita Dickson is currently serving as the President and Council Chairman of the Governing Board of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), where she advocates for the youth and vulnerable people in society on their sexual and reproductive health and rights. She is also a member of the Ghana Baptist University College Governing Council, and Chairman of the Grace Baptist School’s Board.

She is also a Council member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Africa Region (IPPFARO) and served as the National Coordinator of West African Network of Natural Products Research Scientists (WANNPRES).

Membership of Associations

Prof Dickson holds membership of several local and international organizations including the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association (CPA), Society of Medicinal Plant Research (GA), International Society of Ethnopharmacology (ISEP), Phytochemical Society of Europe (PSE) and American Society of Pharmacognosists (ASP).

Her people-oriented approach to leadership is underpinned by her commitment to both staff and students in providing them with opportunities for their development. She is receptive to new ideas and creative thinking from both staff and students.

Family Life, Christian Background and Interaction with the Youth

Prof. Rita Akosua Dickson is married to Nana Dickson, a banker and the couple is blessed with four daughters. She is a Christian of the Baptist denomination and worships at Grace Baptist Church, Amakom, Kumasi.

Prof Dickson enjoys inspiring and mentoring the next generation, through talks and other engagements, as she motivates them to build their leadership skills and competencies.

She is passionate about the youth and enjoys encouraging girls to take up careers in science. She loves to cook and share traditional meals with friends and family and is happy to spend some time in the gym when she can afford it.

Source: African Eye Report

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