Patrick Awuah, MBA 99, propels an African renaissance
From the time he enrolled at Haas, native Ghanaian Patrick Awuah had a singular focus: to transform Africa by inaugurating a new type of higher education institution. It would be at the forefront of Africa’s socioeconomic transformation by preparing ethical, entrepreneurial leaders. Awuah spent his time at Haas gaining the skills he’d need to found and lead such a school. Launched in Ghana in 2002, Ashesi University was the continent’s first liberal arts college. It pioneered a multidisciplinary core curriculum teaching critical thinking, creative problem solving, ethical reasoning, and communication skills that went against the dominant rote learning culture in many African schools. Ashesi, which means “beginning” in the Ghanaian language Akan, is now recognized as one of the finest universities in Africa and has graduated more than 2,000 students determined to revitalize their communities and transform the continent. Here’s how a world-class university develops.
Patrick Awuah and three classmates, including Nina Marini, MBA 99, conduct a feasibility study for a private university in Ghana as part of Haas’ International Business Development program.
The Ashesi University Foundation is founded by Awuah, its president, and Marini, its vice president.
Having raised $2.5 million, Ashesi opens in a rented house with 30 students.
The first class graduates—all finding quality placement.
Ashesi students adopt an honor system to take exams unproctored, triggering a national conversation on the importance of values-based education. A capital campaign for a permanent campus begins. Ashesi achieves operational financial sustainability.
Phase one of the new campus in Berekuso, 100 acres overlooking Ghana’s capital Accra, is completed on schedule and on budget ($6.4 million).
Awuah is awarded Haas’ Leading Through Innovation Award and named Ghana’s 4th most respected CEO.
Ashesi launches an engineering program with 76 students (40% women) and a new facility. A record 55% of students receive need-based scholarships—29% fully funded.
The President of Ghana awards Ashesi a Charter, making it an autonomous degree-granting institution free from the supervision of a public university.
In March, Ashesi students are among the first in Africa to resume learning after COVID lockdowns, thanks to learning systems already being online.
Ashesi now offers nine degrees (three of them master’s) and enrolls over 1,400, 18% of whom are international (from 31 countries). Some 90% of grads find jobs, start businesses, or attend grad school within six months of searching.