The Department of Classics, established in 1948 is one of the oldest Departments in the University, sharing the honour in this regard with English, History and religious Studies, among the many Departments that today constitute the Faculty of arts.
The pioneer staff, under the direction of E.A. Cadle, concentrated on teaching and laid the basis of a strong teaching department, especially in the areas of language (Greek and Latin) and Literature. The Teaching of ancient History was given greater emphasis after the arrival of A.R. Hands in 1951. by 1956, the Department was already well known for its excellent teaching.
The appointment of the first Professor and substantive Head of the Department in 1956 was an event of tremendous importance in the history of the Department. Under the able and enthusiastic direction of Professor John Ferguson, research facilities rapidly improved and the Department grew from strength to strength.
The year 1962 was another important landmark in the history of the Department. Greater emphasis was given to Philosophy, Literature and Ancient History, while courses on Graeco-Roman Civilisation were introduced for the benefit of students of other disciplines. 1962-1969 was a period of outstanding research activities carried out by members of academic staff of the Department, both established and visiting. The like of K.D. White, Paul Mackendrick, John Ferguson, L.A. Thompson J.A. Akinpelu, R.S. Pathmanathan and O. Kujore.
The Departmentâ€™s courses remain basically directed to the study of the civilization of the Greeks and Romans, one of the great civilizations of history, and one which has affected developments in many parts of the world, including Africa. Students majoring in Classics now take courses on the Ancient History and Archaeology of Northern Africa, while at the same time obtaining inter alie, a\first hand acquaintance with great philosophers like Plato, Scientists like Aristotle, dramatists like Sophocles, historians like Thucydides, orators like Cicero and Poets like Virgil â€“ all of whom continue to exert a salutary influence on modern thought and letters. Students majoring in other disciplines are also brought into touch with these great minds of antiquity through courses taught with English translation and courses which deal with the Classic foundations of some of manâ€™s more recent intellectual and artistic achievements.
To mark the expansion of student population, the Department, with the kind support of Leventis Foundation, has embarked on vigorous staff development. Worthy of note, also, is the fact that Classics graduates continue to render splendid service in a wide variety of occupations. Apart from numerous teachers and several university dons (many of whom are now in other fields), the roll includes educational administrators such as S.F. Edgal top civil servants like T.A. Akinyele; Foreign service personnel like J.T. Iyalla, and E.C. Anyaoku; leaders of Commerce and Industry like G.T. Adokpaye and G.O. Onosode, lawyers such as Late Bola Ige; Creative writers like late Christopher Okigbo; Journalists such as A.A. Okpanku, Librarians like S.I. Ifidon, television executives like Bankole Balogun and a policeman C.F.S. Shado.
The Classics Department thus forges ahead with a strong conviction that what it has to offer will ever be found valuable and happy in the appreciation of the contributions which the alumni who have passed through it are making in their various fields of activity to the success of the nation and of the world at large.