Miami University confers ‘Distinguished’ Scholar Award ’ on Professor Saine

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By Ebrima G. Sankareh, Editor-In-Chief

Oxford, OH, USA—Gambian-born American academic, Professor Abdoulaye Saine, was among five faculty conferred with Miami University’s “Distinguished Scholar Award” on Tuesday September, 16, 2014 at the University’s Art Auditorium  during the Fall 2014 Faculty Assembly.

Following a speech by University President David Hodge in which he outlined the University’s impressive progress in academics and related disciplines as well as eulogising his staff for their sacrifices and efforts in developing young men and women from home and across the globe to be future leaders and innovators, he specifically congratulated the award recipients for their meritorious academic accomplishments.

In his arresting citation amid tumultuous applause while presenting the distinguished Scholar Award to Professor Abdoulaye Saine, University Provost, Raymond Gorman, told the crowded auditorium that “Professor Saine is the author of two books, The Paradox of Third Wave Democratization In Africa (2009) and Culture And Customs Of Gambia (2012)and co-author or editor of three other  books on Africa. He has also published 19 articles in peer-review journals and contributed 14 chapters to edited volumes.”

In his characteristic simplicity that significantly distinguishes him from most Gambian and African scholars, a bespectacled Professor Saine rose before the crowd with his radiating smile; a trademark of his charming personality that personifies the urbane Gambian-American academic and graciously accepted the coveted prize with hugs and handshakes from his Provost.

Soon after the award ceremony, the awardees accompanied by family members and colleagues assembled at Marcum Conference Center for a memorable reception. Noticeable during the reception was the arresting array of TV screens hanging on the walls displaying each recipient’s photo with  impressive profiles highlighting their contributions to academia and how their works have and continue to impact humanity.

Later that evening, as the crowd of proud family members and award recipients disperse, Professor Saine accompanied by his wife, Dr. Paula Boxer Saine, family members and friends converged on the Saine’s stylish Miami residence for dinner. The rest of the evening was punctuated with traditional African music interspersed with kind remarks that all echo, Professor Saine’s simplicity, his fair-mindedness, patriotism and unwavering commitment to balance in all that he does.

Drawing from the corpus of testimonies provided by his academic colleagues, one sees a trail of impressive scholarly record, great enough to leave us grateful as Gambians.

In his nomination paper to the Committee on Faculty Research recommending Professor Saine for the “Distinguished Scholar Award”, University Distinguished Professor Sheila Croucher writes: “It is with much enthusiasm that I write to nominate Professor Abdoulaye Saine for the Distinguished Scholar Award. I have known Professor Saine since he joined the Department of Political Science in 1998. At the time, the continent of Africa had not been a region of focus for the department. Professor Saine’s hire offered a valuable opportunity to expand the department’s course offerings for undergraduate and graduate students interested in global and comparative politics from an African perspective, and to broaden the intellectual  exchange among faculty in the Department and across the university. I am pleased to say that the choice of Professor Saine for this important position was exactly the right one. He has been a remarkable colleague in every respect.”

Professor Saine- A Camparativist Scholar

Continuing her rendition on Professor Saine’s eligibility for the award, Professor Croucher remarks: “Professor Saine is an internationally renowned expert on The Gambia, but he has skilfully avoided the trap of being a scholar whose work narrowly focuses on a single case study. Rather, he is a camparativist in the truest sense. His body of work is rich in the collection and compilation of empirical material about specific cases in West Africa, but simultaneously sophisticated in the conceptual and analytical contributions it makes to broader theoretical debates-particularly in the area of democratization.”

“Among The Very Best of The Many Fine Scholars

Echoing Dr. Croucher’s testimony, a colleague, Professor John M. Rothgeb Jr., brings in Dr. Saine’s human disposition, a trait almost always absent in many academics. “In addition to his scholarly research”, Dr. Rothgeb offers, “Professor Saine is a devoted teacher. Over the years, many of his students have told me how they enjoy his classes, how he assists them with their academic developments, and how valuable he is as an academic adviser. Professor Saine also was one of the most active Political Science Department’s participants in the University’s Top 25 Program.”

“Beyond this”, notes Rothgeb Jr., “Saine is well known for working with graduate students and for supervising their research projects. Indeed, the Political Science Department’s graduate program owes Professor Saine a debt of gratitude for the enormous effort….” “In conclusion, I strongly believe Professor Saine deserves to receive the distinguished Scholar Award. He is among the very best of the many fine scholars that serve on the Miami University faculty”,  says Professor Rothgeb Jr.

Having known of and knowing Professor Abdoulaye Saine for over three decades now, I cannot but concur with the  forgoing testimonies describing both his academic achievements and humanity. Apart from our close family ties in The Gambia, it is probably Laye Saine’s (as we affectionately call him) impeccable character and modesty that endear him to all that encounter him.

Naturally, when he called me in Birmingham last Spring announcing this great feat of academic accomplishment, I immediately promised him that my wife, Binta G. Sankareh and I, will definitely be in his company and we did with my sister-in-law, Haddy Gaye, driving some 12 long hours along the rugged beauty of the American wilderness to Hamilton, Ohio.

Most striking to me was the rocky terrain and pristine vegetation and the frequency of foraging livestock along the mountains of West Virginia amid the rising and falling landscape of rivers, valleys and mountains right into the Ohio River. As I shifted gear, and Titi’s latest melodies vibrating on either side of our vehicle, my mind took a literary twist, for the topography I see was reminiscent of famed American writer, Sherwood Anderson’s episodic 1917 novel, Winesburg, Ohio. While I have never been to Winesburg, Ohio, it was amazing how a novel one read at graduate school can transfix his mind several years later to this attractive landscape and forces him to ponder Anderson’s literary genius in depicting the camaraderie and solitariness of life in the American Midwest. In sum, it was a great event and the experience worth the candle and as I told Professor Saine, this is the beginning of what could be a long relation with Ohio.


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