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News from 2010
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IFC CEO, Lars Thunell meets with Ashesi faculty, students and alumni
June, 2010

On Tuesday, June 15th, Ashesi hosted World Bank Vice President and International Finance Corporation (IFC) CEO, Lars Thunell for an intimate conversation with students, alumni and faculty.  Dr. Thunell answered questions from students and alumni and discussed the IFC's policies in the wake of the recent environmental catastrophe in the United States.  He stated that the IFC tries to put policies in place that set a high standard for its partner organizations.

Dr. Thunell questioned students and alumni about their career choices and their perspectives on the state of Ghana's economy.  Alumni at Ashesi spoke about a variety of career avenues they had explored and their hope for future economic growth in Ghana.  

Dr. Thunell joined IFC in 2006, after a successful career in the financial services industry. Most recently he was the Chief Executive Officer of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB).  In the 1990s, Dr. Thunell served as the Chief Executive Officer of Trygg-Hansa Swedish insurance company and as Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Nordbanken. He was also President and Chief Executive Officer of Securum in Stockholm, the asset management company established by the Swedish Government to help solve the Swedish financial crises. He graduated with a doctorate from the University of Stockholm and was a research fellow at the Harvard University Center for International Affairs.

In early 2009, the IFC invested $2.5 million in Ashesi to enable us begin the construction of a permanent campus in Berekuso. In early 2009, the IFC invested $2.5 million in Ashesi to enable the university begin the construction of a permanent campus in Berekuso, a village approximately 15 miles north of Accra.

Friends & donors share opinions, ideas
June, 2010

In April, we invited friends and donors to help shape the content, format and frequency of our future communications by responding to an online survey.  We got a great response, and here is what we learned :

Friends applaud focus: ethical leadership - critical thinking – solutions for Africa
Respondents agree that Ashesi is bringing lasting change to Africa, and urged us to continue our focus in three areas: educating ethical leaders, cultivating critical thinking and problem solving skills, and empowering young Africans to create solutions for Africa's challenges.

Respondents also value Ashesi’s commitment to providing opportunities for African women and students from poor families. People appreciated the fact that women make up close to half of the Ashesi student body, and that nearly 40% of Ashesi students receive financial aid.

More communication please
The percentage of friends who want a quarterly email newsletter (45%) was almost tied with the percentage who want to hear from us “any time there’s news” (44%). In general, friends urged us to keep them informed of Ashesi’s news, progress, plans and accomplishments.

We’ll continue our emphasis on a fairly comprehensive quarterly email newsletter, and also send occasional brief emails when we have something important to share. And in response to requests, our founder and president, Patrick Awuah, will share his thoughts in a new column in our quarterly newsletter.

Thanks for your comments
We received hundreds of written comments, and we read every one. Respondents praised our mission, our effective programs, and our high quality and integrity. We received thoughtful suggestions for ways to promote Ashesi to a broader audience, and suggestions for future courses. We wish we could implement every suggestion. Unfortunately, due to our focus on keeping our overhead very low, we don’t have the manpower to follow up on many ideas. (Ashesi has only one paid staff person in the US…we are a lean organization!) But we will keep all the suggestions handy for possible future use.

Thanks for completing the survey and helping us raise $3,600 to support Ashesi!
We thank the 144 friends—out of 828 who received the email invitation to the survey—who took the time to fill out our on-line survey. It’s valuable to learn what our friends and donors think. And thanks to an anonymous donor who pledged $25 for every survey we received, the Ashesi University Foundation will receive $3,600 to support the school!

Ashesi holds 6th commencement ceremony
June, 2010

On Saturday, June 5, 2010, Ashesi University graduated its 6th class, the class of 2010, at the Burma Hall, Accra. With eighty-five students, this class is the largest to have graduated from Ashesi to date. 

The Class of 2010 will be remembered for their diversity, academic performance, creative and empathic spirit as well as their leadership potential. Memorable achievements by members of the Class of 2010 include selection for the Goldman Sachs summer internship program, participation in the study abroad program at Babson College in the United States, establishing the campus recycling program and organizing fundraising events to support the Student Endowment Fund.  In addition the graduates raised $3,216 to support the construction of Ashesi's new campus at Berekuso.

Speakers at the graduation ceremony included, Patrick Awuah, the University’s President and Founder, and Kwaku Bediako, CEO, Chase Petroleum. 

The Dean of the School of Education at the University of Cape Coast, Ashesi's affiliate University, was on hand to confer degrees in Business Administration, Computer Science and Management Information Systems to members of the Class of 2010. Business Administration major, Nana Ama Serwa Akosa graduated top of her class, with Summa Cum Laude honours.

Nana Ama Serwa Akosa, Romeo Owusu-Aning and Kwabena Owusu-Adjei were presented with the Scholarship, Leadership and Citizenship Award signifying their outstanding contributions to the Ashesi community.

President Awuah, in his address to the graduating class, mentioned how far Ashesi had come and how deeply gratified he feels watching the culture of integrity that is developing on campus. He encouraged the students to not to worry about those who insist on maintaining the status quo and who do not fundamentally believe in Africa’s potential, “they argue on the wrong side of history”, he said.

Concluding his remarks, Dr. Awuah stated, “Ashesi will blossom into a great African university. Your own ethical intelligence will be recognized and rewarded.  And the African Renaissance will come to pass.”

Guest speaker, Kwaku Bediako advised the Class of 2010 to, “have dreams, but take the bold steps you need to achieve them. Do not entertain any form of fear. It’s crippling.” He shared experiences from his life and reminded the class that their education was to empower them to create change for the human good. He wished them best and received a standing ovation.

We at Ashesi look forward to following the achievements of the Class of 2010 and wish them the best of luck in all their endeavours.

Click here to read more about the 2010 graduation ceremony, including complete transcripts of the speeches delivered at the event.

Ashesi senior, Kobla Nyomi is Google-bound
June, 2010

Ashesi Computer Science major, Kobla Nyomi, has recently been selected to participate in Google’s Software Engineering Programme at the company's office in Zurich, Switzerland. Kobla was one of only three applicants selected from across Africa to participate in the program.

Kobla was invited to apply for the position after placing in the finals of Google CodeJam Africa, an online programming competition held in spring 2010. Kobla will spend his summer break at Google’s Engineering Centre in Switzerland working with the Africa Development Team on projects for Google’s African user base.

Kobla, after learning the news that he was selected, stated, “I am thrilled and overwhelmed.  I look forward to the opportunity of joining the Google team.  I hope I can contribute to their important work and help improve products meant for the African market.” Kobla stated that he was thankful to all the students, faculty and staff who encouraged him throughout the interview process.  He was grateful that his education at Ashesi had prepared him to meet Google’s high standards.

Google representatives stated that while with the Software Engineering Programme Kobla will be asked to develop his skills and contribute to projects in a direct and meaningful way.  The Programme promises to help interns deepen their understanding of Computer Science and allow them to connect with outstanding people from all over the world.

 Ashesi President named amongst the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2010
May, 2010

From Google to Gaga, Apple to architecture, Facebook to fashion, Fast Company counts down the most influential and surprising executives, artists and impresarios crafting our culture—and our future.

Fast Company, a magazine that celebrates entrepreneurs and their innovative and cutting-edge approach to business, has published its second annual ranking of The 100 Most Creative People in Business. The 2010 list excludes anyone featured in the magazine in the past, including all 2009 honourees. The result is a whole new class of on-the-rise creatives, from Asia to Africa, Europe to the Americas.

According to editor, Robert Safian ,“the selections we’ve made reflect the breadth of new ideas and new pursuits at play in our business landscape. There are people like Soraya Darabi who dragged The New York Times into the age of social media; Patrick Awuah, who founded Ashesi University in Ghana; Franklin Leonard of Universal Pictures, whose Black List has spawned multiple Oscars; and White House CTO Beth Simone Noveck, who’s bringing transparency into government”.

Other honourees include, interface designer, Yugo Nakamura; HBO Documentary Films president, Sheila Nevins; futurist, Ray Kurzweil; Dele Olojede, CEO of Timbuktu Media and the first African-born journalist to win the Pulitzer Prize and Harvard law professor, Elizabeth Warren.

For the rest of the list and rich multimedia profiles of the 100 Most Creative People in Business, go to www.fastcompany.com

Ashesi President ranked among ten most respected CEOs in Ghana
May, 2010

Ashesi President, Patrick Awuah, has been selected as one of the top ten most respected CEOs in Ghana.  The ranking of Chief Executive Officers for 2009 involved surveys of 208 CEOs and was organized by PricewaterhouseCoopers and The Business and Financial Times. The ranking is conducted every two years to identify individuals and companies who are recognized by their peers as engendering good corporate practice.

This is the first time the head of a nonprofit or educational institution has been selected among the top ten.  It is a strong vote of confidence from corporate Ghana for the work we are doing at Ashesi, and a great honour.


Ghana's Most Respected CEO

1.   Prince Kofi Amoabeng, UT Financial Services

2.   Ken Ofori-Atta, Databank Group Limited

3.   Kwasi Twum, Multimedia Group Limited

4.   Tony Oteng Gyasi, Tropical Cables and Conductors

5.   Alhaji Asumah Bandah, Antrac

6.  Joyce Ayeh, Ghana Chamber of Mines*

Philip Sowah, Zain Country Manager*

7.  Albert Ocran, Combert Impressions

8.  Patrick Awuah, Ashesi University

9.  Martin Mensah, Kasapreko

10. Ernest Bediako, Ernest Chemist*

David Venn, Vodafone*

*tied

Ghana’s 10 Most Respected Companies (In descending order)

UT Financial Services, MTN, Unilever, Databank, Guinness Ghana, Multimedia, Nestle, Coca Cola, Zain, Ecobank.

Click here to read the CitiFM article about the award ceremony.

Campus Update: Building foundations are in place at new campus
April, 2010

Construction progress is continuing on Ashesi's new campus site at Berekuso.  The foundations of all of the academic buildings have been completed and the columns which will support upper floors and roof structures are rising from the ground.  In the classroom buildings the outlines of the terraced seating arrangement can clearly be seen on the floors. There is a sense of excitement on the construction site as buildings start to take form on the one hundred acre site.

 

In addition to the foundation, contractors are close to completion on the underground tanks that will store water for the university.  The tanks will be fed by a borehole drilled in the valley below and rain gutters that will collect water from the roofs above.  Water will be purified at a central location and distributed to all the buildings for use.  The combination of rain harvesting gutters and a borehole will ensure there is adequate water supply for our growing campus community. 

 

Below are a few recent pictures from the new campus site.

A view of a future Ashesi classroom

Water tanks will store water for the campus

 

Click here to view a pdf with more pictures of construction at the new campus site.

Ashesi prompts national ethics discussion
April, 2010

On Monday, April 26, 2010, Ashesi University College and the University of Cape Coast hosted a conference exploring how to integrate ethical values into higher education.  The conference began a national discussion on the importance of ethics in our education system and successful methods for teaching integrity in our schools. 

 

Participants learned from the work of Dan Ariely, Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT, and Barry Schwartz, Professor of philosophy at Swarthmore College.  Speakers at the event included Databank Chairman, Ken Ofori-Atta; CEO of ENO International, Roland Akosah; Ashesi University College President, Dr. Patrick Awuah; University of Cape Coast Ethics Committee Member, Dr. Nelson Buah; Mr. Anis Haffer, Founder of GATE Institute; Mrs. Ellen Hagan, Director of L’aine Services Ltd.

 

The conference was well attended by leadership from Ghana’s public and private universities. In addition to faculty and administrators, student leaders at the various universities attended and engaged in vigorous discussions about ethical issues at their institutions. 

 

Among the topics discussed were guidelines for teaching moral wisdom; scientific research findings on factors that influence ethical decision making among students; the urgent need for ethics in Ghana’s educational system; and an exam Honor Code which has been introduced at Ashesi University College. 

 

Ashesi’s Honor Code in particular was highlighted by the event moderator, Ben Avle of CitiFM 97.3, because of the recent debate between Ashesi and the National Accreditation Board on this initiative.  The Honour Code at Ashesi enjoins students to work with integrity and to hold each other accountable.  Students sign a pledge stating that they will act ethically, report their own academic policy violations if and when they occur, and report acts of academic misconduct by their peers. 

 

Student panelist Kwabena Owusu-Adjei reported that the honor code has helped build a culture of honesty on Ashesi University College’s campus.  Students who cheat are looked down upon, and are reported to the Ashesi Judicial Committee (AJC).  He stated that the honor code allows him and his peers to feel more comfortable holding those who abuse the rules accountable for their actions. Kwabena stated, “Exams are now conducted with more discipline and integrity than they were before 2008, when the Honour System was instituted.  Ashesi students are very proud of this fact; it sets us apart in a good way.

 

Dr. Esi Ansah, Acting Head of the Department of Business Administration explained that since the institution of the Honour System, Ashesi faculty have taken care to craft exam questions in such a way that it is more difficult for students to cheat without being caught. According to Dr. Ansah,“Ashesi exam questions compel students to think independently and analytically, thereby instilling in them the importance of their own independent, intellectual contributions and the uselessness of copying another’s work.”

 

However, Dr. Sena Kpeglo of the University of Cape Coast, pointed out the Honor Code system may not be easy for all universities to implement.  She stated that ethical practices must start by having good institutional policies which ensure the integrity of procedures such as faculty hiring and student admissions.  The challenge of tackling ethics at larger universities is much greater because of the volume of students.  Dr Kpeglo declared that faculty and staff must be truly engaged if the system is to be successful.

 

Dr. Nelson Buah, a member of the University of Cape Coast Ethics Committee, reported that though Cape Coast University does not have specific courses dedicated to ethics, ethics is discussed as part of the coursework in some departments.  Also, UCC engages the subject through hall masters in student housing and through engagement with faculty.  He agreed that ethics is an important subject that universities should pay attention to if their graduates are to be of benefit to the nation.

 

Leaders from corporate Ghana, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, Databank Chairman, Mr. Roland Akosah, CEO of ENO International and Ellen Hagan, Director of L’aine Services added their voices in support Ashesi’s Honor Code and an increased focus on ethics in higher education.  Ken Ofori Atta stated that ethics was one of Databank’s core values and a key factor they looked for when hiring new employees.  Mr. Akosah echoed the Databank Chairman’s sentiment, commenting that if Ghana wishes to have an economy that is globally competitive, it must have business people and civil servants that work honestly.

 

At the closing of the conference, the leadership from several universities pledged their support for an improved focus on ethics at their institutions and their support for Ashesi’s Honour Code system.  Zenith University College, Student Representative Council (SRC) member, Emmanuel Holm, stated “I would really like to begin an honor code system at Zenith.  We have had some problems with issues of integrity in the past and I think this system could help.  I’m sure there will be some resistance from certain people in the school but we can try to convince them to join.”   

'Best Delegation' at Model UN conference in China goes to Ashesi students
April, 2010

From 1-4 April 2010, a delegation of five students from Ashesi University participated in the Asia International Model United Nations Conference hosted at Peking University, Beijing, China. They made themselves, their school, and the entire nation of Ghana proud by winning the ‘Best Delegation’ award, beating out delegations from fifteen other countries. In addition to the ‘Best Delegation’ award, representatives from Ashesi won two ‘Outstanding Delegate’ Awards for their performance representing Africa’s interests in two UN subcommittees.

The Model United Nations Conference provides an opportunity for university students from around the world who share an interest in international relations to come together and discuss important issues from different perspectives. The goal of the conference is to simulate the proceedings of the real United Nations. The Beijing Model United Nations Conference facilitated discussions covering a spectrum of topics including: politics, economics, society, and culture. Discussions centered on developing solutions to some of the most pressing global issues, such as the global financial crisis and relief efforts in Haiti.

The Ashesi delegation was involved in four different United Nations committees, namely the General Assembly, the Group of Twenty, the Non-Governmental Organizations and the Ambassadors Program. Students stepped into the shoes of diplomats and ambassadors and engaged in negotiations, while learning how to interact with fellow student colleagues from all over the world.

The Ashesi delegation included: Isaac Appiah (Class of 2012), Prince Addoquaye Acquaye (Class of 2012), Prince Paul Dwomoh (Class of 2012), Edwin Acquah (Class of 2011) and Omayma Halabi Ahma (Class of 2011). 

The delegation was sponsored by Silver Star Towers, Latex Foam, Ash Foam, Azar Chemicals, Wire-Weaving, Koala Shopping Centre, Ethiopian Airlines and Ashesi University, for whose assistance the delegation was extremely grateful.

One of the delegates, Isaac Appiah, stated “I believe that it is as a result of the critical thinking skills we have developed as part of our education at Ashesi that helped us perform so well in this international conference.”

Ashesi students shine at first Ghana International Model UN Conference
April, 2010

The first ever Ghana International Model United Nations conference (GIMUN) was held on the 20th and 21st of March 2010 at Miklin Hotel. A hundred and fifty students took part, selected from tertiary institutions throughout Ghana. Thirty Ashesi students applied to participate and all thirty were accepted. Delegates were housed in private hostels at the University of Ghana, Legon, and provided with transportation and food during the conference.  

The two day conference commenced with visits to a number of embassies in Ghana including the Spanish, U.S. and Russian Embassies. Participants were elected as delegates of different countries and each delegate was given the opportunity to visit their respective embassy. This allowed delegates to meet and interact with their respective Ambassadors and Consulates.

The goal of the conference was to simulate the real-life proceedings of the United Nations. Consequently, position papers prepared by delegates from each country were read and resolutions were drafted. Delegates were separated into two committees, with one committee debating the World Economic Crisis, whilst the other debated Global Climate Change. Students also served as members of the security service and press core.

Ashesi students took on several leadership roles during the conference. Isaac Appiah (Class of 2012) was the General Assembly Vice President, Eyra Lydie Gnanih (Class of 2012) was the secretary of her committee, and Diana Dayaka Osei (Class of 2012) headed the Press Core. In addition, during the closing ceremony a number of Ashesi students were recognized for their hard work: Prince Dwomoh (Class of 2012), representing Iran, was voted the “best delegate” of his committee and Annatu Neina Abdulai (Class of 2013), representing Mexico, won “best dressed delegate”. 

The highlight was the crowning of Sebastian Apau (Class of 2011) as “best overall delegate” of the conference. This distinction means Sebastian receives an automatic confirmation to attend the Global Model United Nations programme which will be held in Malaysia this summer.

Barclays (Ghana) Managing Director speaks at launch of ASC week celebration
April, 2010

12th April, 2010 marked the official launch of this year’s Ashesi Student Council (ASC) week celebrations, an event-packed week designed to boost school spirit and morale in addition to providing students with a change in routine. The official launch of the ASC week took place at Ashesi’s Building 3. Guest speaker Mr. Benjamin Dabrah, Managing Director of Barclays Bank, Ghana, spoke on the theme, “The importance of building an honest society”.

Mr. Dabrah began his talk by asking the audience whether it was necessary for people to be honest and live by values and principles. He then answered the question himself by sharing a number of milestones from his own life and explaining how each had shaped the kind of person he had become. Mr. Dabrah also highlighted the importance of setting goals and taking advantage of opportunities along the way. “Where you start in life doesn’t matter if you know where you’re going,” he stated.

Whilst speaking, he touched on a particular phenomenon he had observed: a tendency of Ghanaians to compete with each other rather than develop their own unique talents. Rather than settling for mediocrity and taking solace in being better than the next person, he suggested that young Ghanaians strive to develop themselves. He stressed the need to cultivate the habit of being “excellent” instead of just “better”. Mr. Dabrah also mentioned that students ought to see their time in university as a chance to develop as many life skills as possible since these would ultimately prove more important than the degree they receive itself. He highlighted the excessive emphasis placed on Masters’ degrees in Ghana today, noting that a focus on quantifiable skills was more important.

As he wrapped up his speech, Mr. Dabrah reiterated that nothing in life came easy and that hard work was the principle ingredient of success. He encouraged the students to shed any sense of entitlement they might have and instead work to accelerate their own development and that of the country.


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