Education pioneer Patrick Awuah, MBA 99, founder of Ghana’s Ashesi University, will be welcomed back to campus this week as the 2019 MBA commencement speaker.
Commencement for both the Full-time MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA programs will take place on Friday, May 24, at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.
Born and raised in Ghana, Awuah came to Berkeley Haas after attending Swarthmore College and working at Microsoft. His son’s birth inspired him to want to give back to his home country by establishing a new university that would offer a liberal arts education.
In past interviews, he has emphasized the need to teach through critical thinking rather than through rote memorization, which was the general practice in Ghana. His dream was to develop ethical and entrepreneurial leaders who would go on to revitalize Ghana and the African continent.
At Haas, Awuah turned his idea into a project through the International Business Development (IBD) Program. For several years, Berkeley MBA students helped build the business plan for Ashesi University, and Haas faculty served as advisers. Classmate Nina Marini helped Awuah launch Ashesi in 2002 in a rented facility with just 30 students. Today, Ashesi has a new 100-acre campus outside Accra with an enrollment of more than 1,000 students who hail from 15 African nations. The school has more than 1,200 alumni.
“Patrick is an inspiring business leader who truly represents our Defining Leadership Principles,” said Laura Tyson, former Haas dean and faculty director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact. “We are very proud of all that he has accomplished and honored to welcome him back for commencement.”
Awuah, who was profiled in BerkeleyHaas magazine, has earned many accolades, including:
- A MacArthur Fellowship (the “Genius Grant”)
- Placement on Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders
- The WISE Prize for Education
- A 2014 Schwab Foundation “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” award
- The John P. McNulty Prize awarded by the McNulty Foundation and the Aspen Institute
- The UC Berkeley Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award
- The Haas School’s own Leading Through Innovation Award
- An honorary doctorate from Swarthmore