Not part of us: Oxford university disowns Chris Imafidon
Our records show that Chris Imafidon has no affiliation with Oxford University or any of its colleges or departments – Varsity’s media relations manager
The University of Oxford has disclaimed that a Nigerian, Chris Imafidon is a professor at the university.
Saturday PUNCH on November 18, 2017, published an interview in which Imafidon claimed that he had overcome autism to achieve greatness and that no child was born with an inferior gene. The interview went viral on the web, where his rich profile abounds and appears at every search of his name.
Questions were raised by concerned members of the public after the publication of the interview.
Local and some international media have described Imafidon as a professor at Oxford University and at other times, as a professor of University of Oxford (Keble College). However, in their responses to Saturday PUNCH’s enquiries, University of Oxford and one of its independent constituent institutions, Keble College, denied having any connection with him.
Over the last two weeks, Saturday PUNCH has then made several efforts to get Imafidon to substantiate his purported link with the Oxford University or Keble College.
Saturday PUNCH, had, in a series of emails sent to the University of Oxford, requested to know Imafidon’s connection to the school.
The school, in its response sent by Lanisha of its News and Information office, responded, saying: “Thank you for your email. Our records show that Chris Imafidon has no affiliation with Oxford University or any of its colleges or departments. I hope this information is what you are after; please let us know if we can be of any further help.”
A similar response from the school’s Media Relations Manager, Dr. Julia Paolitto, said, “Thank you for your email. Our records show that Chris Imafidon has no affiliation with Oxford University or any of its colleges or departments. I hope this information is what you are after, please do let us know if we can be of any further help.”
The University of Oxford has 38 colleges, which it described on its website as “financially independent and self-governing, but relate to the central university in a kind of federal system.”
And since Keble College (University of Oxford), which Imafidon has also claimed to identify with, is one of the 38 independent colleges affiliated with the Oxford University; therefore, Saturday PUNCH sent another email directly to the college.
Saturday PUNCH, in the email, requested to know if Imafidon had lectured at any time in the school or had any affiliation whatsoever with it.
A response from the school by its Communications Manager, Boriana Boneva, said the “only formal connection between Chris Imafidon and the College of which we are aware is that his daughter was a student here.”
Checks by Saturday PUNCH confirmed that Anne-Marie Imafidon (2006) is listed on the college’s website as one of the beneficiaries of the 2017 New Year Honours given to Keble Old Members, whose achievements were recognised.
When Saturday PUNCH called Imafidon on the telephone to tell him about Oxford University’s responses, Imafidon expressed surprise, saying it was strange for the school to have denied having any relationship with him.
He, however, assured Saturday PUNCH that he would get the school to send another email to counter the one it had earlier sent.
When it was pointed out to Imafidon that his name was not on the university’s website, either as a lecturer or as a researcher, he claimed that he and his daughter (Anne-Marie) were fellows of the University of Oxford. He said he could identify many people working with the institution, whose names did not make it to the website, including the “pro-chancellor of the school.”
But the school’s website identified its officers to include chancellor, vice-chancellor, pro-vice-chancellors (some with specific portfolios and others without portfolio); no mention was made of a pro-chancellor.
Later, Imafidon sent a picture of his Oxford University library card and asked if it was enough to convince Saturday PUNCH that he had something to do with the school. When Saturday PUNCH told him that it was not enough, he promised to speak with the school’s VC the following day, saying that incidentally, he had an appointment with her about a “different matter.”
At some point during the interview Imafidon had with Saturday PUNCH, he boasted about contributing to the emergence of the school’s current VC (Prof. Louise Richardson).
He said, “By the way, we just campaigned and we got the first woman to be the vice-chancellor in 800 years of Oxford University. I was so happy. I told all the men to come and I asked them, ‘if she were your daughter, would you vote for her, if she were your wife, would you vote for her? They said ‘yes’. I told them to line up. Some of them went and told her that this man (Imafidon) came to bully us to vote for you.”
Therefore, Saturday PUNCH waited until the following day, when Imafidon had said he was to have a meeting with the VC of the Oxford University, before getting in touch with him again.
When Saturday PUNCH called to remind Imafidon that it had yet to receive another letter from the Oxford University to counter the initial ones it had sent, he said, “Don’t worry. Before the end of today, you would get not just one letter but two.”
Saturday PUNCH again called the school to find out if it was sending another email concerning Imafidon’s relationship with it, but its media department insisted the school stood by its earlier email in which it stated that he didn’t have anything to do with the school.
It added that it did not know how Imafidon got an ID card with the school’s name embossed on its rope, which he had worn during his interview with Saturday PUNCH.
Despite all the denials by the school, Imafidon insisted that another email would be sent to Saturday PUNCH and that enquiries by its correspondents had been forwarded to the wrong department.
But when he was asked to supply an email address where enquiries could be sent to, he promised to supply it by the end of that day. He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.
On Thursday, when Saturday PUNCH again called to remind him that he had yet to send an email or anything that could substantiate that he had an affiliation with the school, he demanded the raw transcript of the interview our correspondent had with him.
He said, “Is it possible I get the transcript of our interview? The university didn’t give me permission to travel. I went on my own private initiative. You don’t understand what the system here demands somebody to represent someone officially.
“I have met the president of the college that would write to you today the situation of things but he wants the full picture. But if you give me the full transcript, it would help. Send the unedited version and if you send it, I will give it to him and he would write any letter you want him to write to you.
“I called him last night and I discussed with him. I also met him and his wife this morning. They know what we do for them and he is angry that the person that is helping him in his college is being treated this way. You can go and write what you want to write, the university will reply to what they want to reply to and they will make their points clear.
“If you want me to help you and you cannot send the transcript, you are wasting your time and wasting my time. He is the president of the college and his word is final. The university’s newsletter is out today, it is in public domain. You cannot claim you don’t have any affiliation with anybody yet you feature the person in your newsletter.”
Imafidon’s profile on his Linkedin page describes him as “professor, adviser to governments, monarchs, & leaders, keynote speaker and Chair, Excellence in Education.”
Excellence in Education, according to its website, is a non-profit support group in Oxford working with children, schools, local groups, companies and charities to improve educational development.
It also says, “As Honorary Board Member/Director of Research, Chris mentors and supports young leaders, teachers/tutors, teaching assistants/researchers from University of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, Kings College, UCL and Queen Mary University of London. He also collaborates with and consults for Ohio State University (USA); London and Oxford colleges that are keen on mutual areas collaboration.”
His profile on Linkedin further describes him as one of the “world’s foremost scholars on leveraging informatics for learning and exceptional achievement (genius),” but no mention was made of what he is a professor of or the trajectory of his educational career, stating where he had his first degree, Master’s degree, PhD and later became a professor.
It, however, says under the period between September 1999 and August 2013 that “Chris is a multi-award winning researcher and scientific pioneer. A member of the Information Age Executive Round-table forum – which is made up of the top 15 IT experts, decision-makers, CIOs, and executives in the UK.
“He is a consultant to governments and industry leaders. As a former university lecturer in Cambridge, he also has been a guest lecturer at the University of Oxford (Keble College) and a visiting professor to US universities, including Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, SUNY, Georgetown, Miami, LSU (Louisiana State University), and has collaborated with scientists at Yale University.
“He continues to mentor, supervise and examine both internal and external PhD, and undergraduate students at Imperial College, Cambridge, UCL and for Queen Mary University of London, where he was a former Head of the Management Technology Unit. Chris served on the Board of Governors, Woodford, one of the nation’s most successful schools. He currently serves on the board of Excellence in Education programme.”
It further says that Imafidon has been “quoted in, contributed to, and featured in over 1,500 major media outlets worldwide,” including the BBC, CNN, ITV, Time Magazine and Wall Street Journal.
On the page, Imafidon expressed his gratitude to the students he had purportedly supervised in some of the most prestigious universities in the world, saying, “I am honoured and fortunate to have supervised some of the most dedicated and determined students ever. I wish to salute my PhD, MPhil, & Master’s students in Oxford, Cambridge, & London. Your works have led to recent BCS awards, and numerous scientific papers/book chapters and invitations to speak in parliaments, as well as opportunities to train senior legislators, and industry leaders.”
A report published by an online medium that handles press releases for international organisations, prnewswire.com, following a press statement by Hannah Rivers of Excellence in Education in March 2017, stated that Imafidon and the Mayor of Oxford, Mohammed Altaf-Khan, had received the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, to Oxford for a lecture with “Oxford University leaders” in attendance.
The report quoted Imafidon as saying at the event: “Here at Oxford, and other universities, we usually teach students History from the pages of a textbook, but today, all of us are experiencing history. We have here, a living monarch in the flesh.”
The report added that Imafidon then “welcomed His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ife, and other royals to Oxford University.”
He was further quoted as saying: “All of us here, professors, scholars, students and staff of different races and backgrounds are gathered in the presence of the highest number of African kings in full traditional regalia; special white gown; exquisite traditional beads and silver crown, along with a giant African umbrella.
“Let me on behalf of the entire university community express our profound gratitude for taking time out of your engagements with Her Majesty, The Queen Elizabeth II of England, to visit us in Oxford.”
On October 19, 2017, Imafidon was at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, to deliver its 33rd Convocation Lecture, titled, ‘The Genius in You: New Tools, Techniques and Technology for Developing the Individual and Institutional Greatness.’
A statement credited to the school’s Registrar, Dada Emmanuel, which can be found online, had described Imafidon as “Prof. Chris Imafidon of Oxford University, United Kingdom.”
Unilorin, in an article on its website, prided itself on being the only Nigerian university to have brought Imafidon back on home soil after 30 years to deliver a lecture.
It said, “This is the first lecture to be delivered on the African soil in the last 30 years by the world-renowned scholar par excellence and mentor extraordinaire. Even the late Nelson Mandela wanted South Africa to receive the genius first but it is the Nigeria’s University of Ilorin that first brought him home. Great!”
The school noted that Imafidon “offered to take the best two Unilorin graduates to the University of the Oxford to develop them further and the worst two graduates of the university to show that everyone is a genius. He said that if the so-called worst graduates do not return home as excellent, he would offer us his apology.”
It further described Imafidon as having “mentored, supervised and acted as examiner for several Master’s and PhD students in various aspects of computer security and informatics at London School of Economics, Imperial College, University College London, and other leading institutions.”
When Saturday PUNCH contacted Unilorin to find out how it arrived at the choice of Imafidon as its recent convocation lecturer and if it did any checks to confirm claims that he is affiliated with the Oxford University, its Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Kunle Akogun, said he could not comment on the issue.
“I can’t answer that question; I don’t know why you are interested in that information. I have to consider the implications. Just google his name, his information is on the Internet. Whatever you find there, that is it. His family is reputed to be the brainiest in the whole of the UK. I don’t know what could warrant people to doubt that,” he said.
But when Saturday PUNCH informed Akogun that the Oxford University had said that it did not know Imafidon, he said: “They don’t know him? That is their own cup of tea (sic); I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Saturday PUNCH has also sent emails to most of the numerous schools that Imafidon is said to have affiliations with, to confirm the veracity of the claims.
These institutions include Yale University, Harvard University, Cornell University, University of Georgetown, University of Miami, Lousiana State University, Imperial College, Queen Mary University of London and Woodford County High School, but they had yet to respond as of the time of filing this report.Punch