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Last modified: Friday, September 21, 2007

Firestone Scholarships to help enhance Liberian law school faculty

Sept. 21, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Firestone Natural Rubber Company has provided $50,000 to the Indiana University School of Law to support its project to help rebuild the University of Liberia's School of Law in Monrovia. The grant will provide scholarships and help with living expenses for students from Liberia to study at Indiana Law.

Jallah Barbu and Chan-Chan Paegar, both law graduates and practicing lawyers in Monrovia and the first Firestone Scholars, are joined this year by Betty Blamo, a graduate of the University of Liberia's law school and a practicing lawyer. Blamo also is a member of the executive council of the Liberian National Bar Association. The students will return with advanced degrees to join the faculty of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law of the University of Liberia.

Through the work of its Center on Constitutional Democracy in Plural Societies, Indiana Law has for several years supported constitutional democracy in countries such as Liberia, which suffered from a civil war marked by ethnic, linguistic and other divisions. The scholarships will help build the law faculty at the University of Liberia School of Law, which experienced considerable destruction of physical facilities and financial instability during the country's civil war.

"In the aftermath of its terrible civil war, Liberia is in desperate need of lawyers," Professor David Williams, founder and director of the CCDPS, said. "Under the dynamic leadership of Dean David Jallah, the school is now engaged in an energetic rebuilding process. Indiana Law is proud to assist in this process by training two Liberian students each year, who will return to become members of the faculty in Monrovia and increase the capacity of the University of Liberia to produce the lawyers that the nation needs."

Barbu said the scholarship and the work of the CCDPS provide him with a great opportunity to be adequately prepared to serve his country and contribute to improving the relationship between the United States and Liberia.

Liberia's history is full of stories of people who seized the opportunity to get an education in Firestone schools and went on to college on a Firestone scholarship, said Dan Adomitis, president of Indianapolis-based Firestone Natural Rubber Company, which has operated in Liberia since 1926.

"Many have built successful careers in business, law, education, health care and government," he said.

But, he said, the 14 years of civil war and chaos in Liberia destroyed the country, leaving 85 percent unemployment and the public and private school systems destroyed.

"Firestone firmly believes education is the key to a brighter future in Liberia. It will bring hope to the country and its young people. Firestone applauds these scholarship recipients for their commitment to restoring Liberia and is pleased to join with Indiana Law to enhance legal education in the country."