Professor O.R. Karim : The Amazon atop Fountain University

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By Mubarak Oladosu

On Thursday the twelfth of March 1970, the Saji family of Ijebu Ode, Ogun State , was blessed with a bundle of joy. It was the arrival of a bouncing baby girl whom they named Ramota Olayinka.

Today, 2nd March 2023, five decades after, and 10 days to her 53rd birthday, and on a day in which Nigerians woke up to the news of the election of a new President in Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the said bundle of joy is the source of euphoric cheer as she assumes duty as Professor Olayinka Ramota Karim, Professor of Food Science and Technology and the first female Vice Chancellor of one of the foremost faith based universities in Nigeria; Fountain University, Osogbo, having satisfied the judgment, and won the hearts of the proprietors and management of the ivory tower, as the best academic for the top job .
In the year 2005, the don, who is a no stranger to making history, was the first Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Food Science and Technology, at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, the very academic institution where she obtained her first degree in Food Science earlier in 1992, before obtaining her masters degree from the University of Ibadan in 1995.

Earlier in life, Prof. Karim had sparkled with promise both in the classroom and in the sports arena by having the best mock school leaving result in 1986 and winning the third prize at the end of that year’s edition of Hajia Kose memorial secondary schools competition.

In her youth, she won several sports awards in a sporting career which lasted from the mid 80s to the early 90s. Her harvest of laurels include the Nigerian Universities Games (NUGA) Gold medal in basketball and a bronze medal in javelin at the 1991 edition of the most important sports fiesta in the calendar of Nigerian Universities. The 1991 edition was held in Bauchi.

Little wonder that today, she is reputed for her boundless energy which is matched with insatiable appetite for knowledge, a trait which has seen her traverse a variety of fields beyond the frontiers of her specialisation of Food Science and Technology. Professor Karim posseses certificates in Conflict Transformation and mediation, Inter-Religious Dialogue and also in research methods, among others.

Driven by her passion for continuous progress, Professor Karim is often on the move teaching and researching as a permanent or as a visiting scholar. She began her career as an academic in 1998 as an Assistant Lecturer at Olabisi Onabanjo University and also taught at LOGOS and DOF institutions which were affiliated to Olabisi Onabanjo University, Yewa, Ogun State , as an Adjunct lecturer in 1999. She rose through the academic ranks before she joined the University of Ilorin in 2008 as a Senior Lecturer and soon became a full Professor in 2014 at the University of Ilorin.

While in Ilorin, her knowledge and insight had been of tremendous help in strengthening the young Department of Home Economics and Department of Food Science and Technology. She has also been of tremendous impact towards the establishment of an academically virile Department of Food Science and Technology at the Kwara State University, Malete which was carved from the existing Department of Food Agriculture and Bio-Engineering. Over the years, she had attracted invaluable research grants to her Universities while creatively connecting her research which often focus on adding value to Nigerian staple foods with her community service endeavors. During her mandatory National Youth Service at Ondo state as an example, she innovated a spiced bread which earned her National Youth Service Commission award in 1993. That award has turned out to be an omen for the international and national recognition which have distinguished her as an outstanding scholar and University administrator.

Professor karim coordinated project teams on Training of Home makers in year 2003 and trained poor farmers on Dietary Intake and Strategies for better Nutritional status of Children and Cassava Processing in 2006. No surprise that she received the Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace (COFP) grant for community project on role of food security on inter religious peaceful co-existence with which she represented the North-Central Geo- political zone in the year 2020. That same year she secured a grant to study the connection between Covid-19 and Women and Girl‟s Wellbeing in Nigeria, from the duo of Global Affairs, Canada and Action Aid, Nigeria, to mention but a few.

A distinguished fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Food science and Technology, the don has recorded supervision distinctions which have seen her former undergraduate supervisees who gained scholarship to pursue PhD degrees in South Korea and Australia.

Unitil her latest appointment, the history making Professor Mrs. Olayinka Ramota Karim was the first female Dean at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Ilorin.

Professor Karim is a recipient of numerous community development and religious awards. She is a towering Professor of international repute who prides herself with outstanding performance in anything she does at both sides of the town and gown. .

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