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Pan-Atlantic University’s Dean of SMC, Michael Okolo, passes on

THE death has been announced of Dr. Michael Okolo, the Dean of Media and Communication at the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.

He was said to have died in the early morning of Monday, July 4 of heart-related causes.

A statement issued and signed by the Vice Chancellor of the School, Professor Enase Okonedo, reads:

“With heavy hearts but with total submission to the will of God, we announce the passing away of Dr Michael Okolo, the Dean of the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University.

“Dr Okolo joined Pan-Atlantic University in 2004 as the Corporate Affairs Manager of the University. In 2006, he moved to become a pioneer member of the newly formed Centre for Media and Communication (CMC) and played a key role in the Centre’s establishment. The CMC evolved into the School of Media and Communication, attaining a reputation for running quality academic as well as professional education programmes, with the tremendous input of Dr Okolo.

“He was a senior lecturer at the School in the area of Organizational/Corporate Communication. He has also served the School in different administrative capacities. He was at different times the head of the Professional Education Department and the director of the Academic Unit and also served as a member of the School’s Management Board. In addition to his teaching sessions at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, Dr Okolo has been involved in many trainings, seminars, workshops and conferences within and outside the country.

“He is survived by his wife, Mrs Rosemary Okolo, the former Registrar of the University and currently a member of faculty in the School of Management and Social Sciences, and four children.

“Kindly keep Mrs Rosemary Okolo, his children and his loved ones in your prayers.

“Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

Tributes have since being pouring in for the man, who was noticeable for his usual bright smiles and candour at any public gathering he attended, which was seldom.

A friend remembered his bright countenance when he attended the cocktail event that heralded the 2022 iREPRESENT International Documentary Film Festival, in March at the Terra Kulture Arena, in Victoria Island.

“He was so lively as he moved around the event with his colleagues from the PAU, greeting people. He kept that big smile on all through, even when he was called on stage like other special guests to present award to some industry veterans honoured that night. It is such a brutal shock such an ebullient fellow is gone,” said the friend.

Many of Okolo’s friends Associates, colleagues and students have also been paying tribute to him.

One of the most earliest tributes is by the renowned Storyteller and Content Creator, Femi Odugbemi, co-Founder/ Executive Director of the iREP, who, indeed, invited him to the Cocktail event mentioned above.

Odugbemi, who worked with Okolo on many projects, wrote:

“He was calm, full of smiles, disarmingly intelligent…’

I MET Dr. Mike Okolo in 2006. He was managing the Corporate Affairs function of the Lagos Business School within what was then known as Pan-African University. The Ajah Campus was still somewhat new and it had the beautiful auditorium with screening facilities. I was President of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN) at the time and we were hosting the Lagos International Forum on Cinema and Video in Africa.

“I really wanted to take the screening programme to a proper sound-proofed space but there were precious few affordable places in Lagos we could go. And on our very first meeting I asked Dr. Okolo a favour. Could I use their freshly-minted hall at the Ajah campus for a couple of days?

“We’d just met and he had no reason to do ITPAN a favour. The University’s reputation and brand was at an all time high and ITPAN was not necessarily in its orbit. But Mike smiled that famous toothy smile of his and in his gentle voice said, ‘do me a formal request and we will work out a partnership.’ That was all there was to it and that was who Mike was…every day, any day and twice on Sunday.

“He was calm, full of smiles, disarmingly intelligent but always looking to connect the dots of how to expand the influence of his beloved institution PAU by building relationships. Often outside his academic orbit.

“Fast-forward to 2018 when I became pioneer Academic Director of the Multichoice Talent Factory (West Africa) and we needed a partner institution, guess which university was the only one on my list?

“Dr. Okolo passed on in the wee hours of the morning yesterday and my heart literarily sank. Why do good people depart so soon? I have since struggled to contain my anguish.

“Mike was a good man, a kind man, a committed academic and one who found his life purpose and pursued it with much vigour. He was Dean of Studies at the School of Media and Communications, Pan-Atlantic University Lekki Lagos, only recently succeeding Dr. Ike Obiaya in the role. I worked with both of them and their personal interest in the success of the Multichoice Talent Factory and of ITPAN many years earlier speaks to the enduring sincerity of their commitment to support and enhance professional capacity in the creative industries.

“Thank you Dr. Mike Okolo, wherever you are, for your grace, support and friendship over these many years. You lived well. Rest In Peace and may progress attain to all the dreams that you left behind. And may your family and friends be comforted.”

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