By: Patrick Awuah, President, Ashesi University
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Today marks seven years since we completed our transition from our rented spaces in Labone and settled into our permanent campus in Berekuso.
Our initial move here, after nine years of planning, fundraising and construction, was an exciting period of learning. Our campus infrastructure at the time was focused on matching the capacity we had in our rented spaces and attempted in various ways to improve it.
Despite initial apprehension about the unfamiliar territory, faculty, staff, students and their families, showed real community spirit as we navigated and started adapting to life in Berekuso. Over the last seven years we have continued to learn about evolving student, faculty, and staff needs, and together with our architects, have made improvements to our campus infrastructure in response.
In 2012, the university and foundation boards approved a Vision 2020 funding plan to expand our campus footprint and create the capacity to serve over 1000 students. The new facilities would provide additional spaces for student housing, recreation, classrooms, staff and faculty offices, research spaces, visiting faculty housing, a health center, engineering labs, an extended campus road network, parking, and gardens.
As we prepare to welcome the Class of 2022, whose graduation year will coincide with Ashesi’s 20th birthday (a celebration I am looking forward to!), our community’s work to transform Africa through education continues to gain more momentum.
With a concerted effort from both boards and the broader community of Ashesi students, alumni, friends and families, we completed fundraising for ten new buildings and supporting infrastructure. Five buildings were completed last year, and another five will be completed by October this year. I am pleased that so far, construction for all these facilities have run within budget and on schedule. Students and staff members returning to campus in September will see the following significant additions since last year.
New student housing and recreation spaces
Our campus master plan has always included designs for significant student recreation spaces, including a sports center, and a student center that would house cafeterias, meeting rooms for students, offices for student leadership, and a campus radio station.
Today, construction of our new student center is a little over 50% completed and the building will be open for use by October of 2018; our sports field is about 70% complete and will also be ready for use by September, and our new student hostel has already been handed over to the university.
New staff and faculty offices, learning and research spaces
Two buildings, currently named the Research and Learning Lab and the Garage, were also approved to provide additional class and meeting rooms as well as expand office space and research labs for our faculty.
The Research and Learning Lab will have 6 research labs covering science, technology, and engineering, and will also have spaces for collaborative work and discussion.
The Garage, sitting at one of the highest points of campus, will have offices with magnificent views of Ghana’s capital Accra, a roof-top terrace for students and faculty to meet and engage in discussions with each other, and labs for new product design and fabrication.
An exciting time to be at Ashesi
Ashesi has come a long way since we first opened our doors in 2002, with a mission to educate ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa. Our students and alumni have become recognized among their peers for exceptional talent and integrity, and we continue to be inspired by the impact they are having throughout the world. The President of Ghana presented our university Charter himself during our 2018 Commencement Ceremony, granting us the independence to operate without oversight from public universities as private universities in Ghana are required to do until granted a Charter. We continue to deepen our relationships with partner institutions across Africa and the world, to grow higher education on the continent.
By the end of this year, Ashesi’s student enrolment will have increased by nearly 100% since we first moved here in 2011, with gender balance remaining at 50:50, and approximately 50% of students on scholarships. Our alumni now number nearly 1200-strong, impacting millions of people through their work in for-profit and non-profit sectors. Student and faculty exchanges and global learning partnerships now span Africa, Europe, and North America.
The Ghana Climate Innovation Center at Ashesi welcomed its third cohort this year and is now incubating 32 businesses focused on products that are addressing climate change. This year, our second Education Collaborative — an annual convening of educators working to strengthen higher education in Africa – hosted twenty-eight participants from eight different countries. Our flagship university immersion programme for high school students, the Ashesi Innovation Experience, is expanding, enrolling 40% more students this year and adding a new creative arts module. And our partners at Teach for Ghana, who are improving education in basic schools in rural Ghana and run their training programmes at Ashesi, have trained 92 teachers serving some 5000 students in underserved communities in Ghana.
As we prepare to welcome the Class of 2022, whose graduation year will coincide with Ashesi’s 20th birthday (a celebration I am looking forward to!), our community’s work to transform Africa through education continues to gain more momentum. Our challenges continue to evolve, but we remain steadfast in our resolve to solve problems and create a lasting legacy of excellence that will serve as a beacon for others contributing to Africa’s progress in their own ways.
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.” These words, which inspired Ashesi’s name, inspire us still.
To everyone who has played a role in Ashesi’s progress, I remain grateful that you are a part of our community. To our students and alumni, my colleagues and teammates, we have accomplished a lot together, and this is only the beginning. To students and families joining Ashesi in September, I look forward to welcoming you. We are excited about what you will bring to our community and what you will learn here. To everyone reading this and looking to contribute to this education movement, consider joining our team, or making a gift to strengthen Ashesi’s work. All donations you make before the end of July will be doubled by the McNulty Foundation.
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