In January, 1988, the Military Governor of Rivers State approved the appointment of Professor S.F. Amakiri as Provost of the College. In May of the same year, Prof. Isaac Dema was appointed to head the Governing Council . From 1988 to 1991 Rivers State College of Education achieved much, and some of its dreams were realised. In terms of structural achievement, six additional classroom block extensions and a one-room Audiovisual Centre at the Education block were constructed. A staff office block project and a language laboratory were completed, and hostels, staff quarters and some buildings of Port Harcourt Primary School and Sea Shell Model Primary School were renovated. St. John’s Diobu campus, which used to be so porous that it was the den of thieves was fenced and the hind edge of Rumuolumeni campus which is near the swamps was also fenced.

In addition, the college has been enjoying the University Salary Structure (USS).Rivers State College of Education was the first College of Education that started the scheme. The decision to convert Rivers State College of Education into a university was takenin 2009 by the Rivers State Government in furtherance of its desire to provide opportunities for high quality education for citizens of the State. Given that the college had for a long time been awarding degrees in affiliation with the University of Ibadan, the transition from a college of education to a university should be easy for the institution. Further to this notion is the fact that many graduates of the defunct Rivers State College of Education have been yearning to improve their academic qualifications through the acquisition of university degrees, preferably within an environment they are used to. Given the reasonably favourable financial situation of Rivers State, the Government considered it expedient to establish the second State Government-owned university.

Ignatius Ajuru University of Education was established by the University of Education Law No. 8 of 2009 of the Rivers State Government passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly on 15 October 2009 and assented to by His Excellency, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State on 20 October 2009.