17 Years of Ashesi University

March 4, 2019
Since 4th March 2002, when Ashesi opened its doors to a pioneer class of 30 students in a single rented building in Labone, the university has seen steady growth. Today, Ashesi’s permanent campus, located on a 100-acre campus in Berekuso, is home to some 1000+ students from across Africa, with alumni doing great work in the world. Built on a multidisciplinary core, Ashesi has expanded its degree offerings from Business Administration and Computer Science to degrees in Management Information Systems, Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

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Here’s a snapshot of some milestones Ashesi accomplished, in becoming a leading private university across the continent.

1997: Founder, Patrick Awuah, moves back to Ghana to start Ashesi
After nearly fifteen years of living and working in the United States, Ashesi founder Patrick Awuah gave up his successful software engineering career to return to Ghana. His goal: to start a university that would help transform Africa by training its future generation to tackle the continent’s biggest challenge: good leadership. With an emphasis on ethics (to tackle corruption), innovative thinking (to help students understand how to identify bold ideas and solutions), and entrepreneurial thinking (to help students understand how to take the lead in building solutions), Ashesi was founded.

1999: Ashesi University Foundation opens office in Seattle, Washington
Based in Seattle, Washington, the Ashesi University Foundation supports Ashesi’s mission by connecting the University with philanthropic support. Foundation is spearheaded by a well-qualified Board of Trustees and management whose efforts are complemented by teams located in the US and Ghana.

2001: As work begins to raise funds for a permanent campus, Ashesi opens refurbishes a building in Labone to begin classes.
A plan to raise funds to build a campus fails, but the university team persists. The building would be the first of 3 rented facilities in Accra that would be Ashesi’s home for 9 years; until the University moved to its permanent home in Berekuso in 2011.

May 2002 — Ashesi opens it’s doors to students
After years of feasibility studies and groundwork, Ashesi opens its doors in a rented house converted to classrooms, with a pioneering class of 30 students.

2006: Ashesi student body elects the first woman in Ghana’s history, to head university student government
Yawa Hansen-Quao ’07 became the first woman to head student government not only at Ashesi but in Ghana. Leading Ashesi’s student government, she initiated a student-body conversation about establishing an honor system on campus, and also implemented a personal development workshop series on public speaking & business etiquette which she would later grow to become a consulting business.

Following Ashesi, Yawa went on to found a nonprofit organization Leading Ladies’ Network, where she works to promote the expansion of women-led and women-owned businesses with high growth potential through education, networking, mentoring, and exposure to investment resources. Yawa would also eventually be invited on to Ashesi University’s Board of Directors.

2008: Students vote to adopt Examination Honor Code
In 2008, led by the Ashesi Student Council, the student body voted to adopt an Examination Honor Code. Under the Code, students pledge to supervise themselves during exams, without any invigilation or external supervisors. The adoption of the Examination Honor Code marked a significant step in the history of Ashesi University. The code is intended to build a high-trust community, to put students in charge of their ethical posture and the reputation of their alma mater, and by so doing, to take a significant step in Ashesi’s mission to educate a new generation of ethical leaders in Africa.

2009: Construction starts for a permanent campus in Berekuso
In 2009, Ashesi started development of a 100-acre campus in Berekuso, in the eastern region of Ghana. The campus project was funded by $3.9 million in philanthropy and $2.5 million in debt financing provided by the IFC, the private arm of the World Bank.

2011: Permanent campus completed and inaugurated
Based on traditional architecture, the Ashesi campus overlooks Accra and has a series of interconnected courtyards which create a beautiful landscape and peaceful environment for learning, community building and recreation. The campus’ dormitories have been designed to equally support this environment and allow Ashesi to create a residential campus experience for the first time.

2012: The MasterCard Foundation partners to provide need-based scholarships for students across Africa
With a significant grant, the MasterCard Foundation, partnered with Ashesi to provide scholarships to 200 under-resourced, but brilliant students the opportunity to attend Ashesi. Ashesi was the first university in Africa to join the Scholars Program network, which has a $500 million education initiative that will provide students from developing countries — particularly from Africa — with comprehensive support for secondary and university education.

2015: Patrick Awuah named one of World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, also receives MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship
Featured on a list that included the Pope, and CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, Ashesi President, Dr. Patrick Awuah, is named one the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, for his leadership as Ashesi’s President. That same year, he was named one of twenty-four MacArthur Foundation 2015 Fellowship recipients, for his work in higher education in Africa. The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.

Also in 2015 — Ashesi launches Engineering Program
On Saturday the 3rd of October, Ashesi celebrated the launch of its new Engineering programme and inaugurated the Robert and Dorothy King Engineering building. The ceremony marked a significant milestone for Ashesi, with Engineering being the biggest addition to our academic programmes since 2005. Ashesi’s new engineering majors — Computer Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering — place emphasis on hands-on learning, entrepreneurship, design and problem solving, and will equip students with skills to create long-term solutions to Africa’s engineering challenges and deploy better-designed infrastructure for local needs.

2016 — Ashesi selected to host the World Bank’s Ghana Climate Innovation Center
Ashesi, in partnership with the World Bank Group, the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands, and Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), inaugurated the Ghana Climate Innovation Center (GCIC) at Ashesi’s campus. The technology hub is geared to help over 100 local clean technology businesses grow and commercialize innovative solutions to climate change. Guests at the event included the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President of Ghana, Hon. Julius Debrah, H.E John Agyekum Kufuor, former President of Ghana, H.E Tove Degnbol, Danish Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Hans Docter, Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, and H.E Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Ghana.

The first of its kind in the country, the center will support Ghana’s National Climate Change Policy over the next ten years by contributing to the production of clean tech solutions, which will ultimately help more than 300,000 Ghanaians increase their resilience to climate change. Ashesi bid for the project in partnership with SNV, Ernst and Young, and the United Nations University.

2017 — WISE Prize for Education 2017 presented to Ashesi Founder, Patrick Awuah
The prestigious WISE Prize for Education was presented to Ashesi President, Patrick Awuah. Ashesi is the first African, and youngest, organization to receive the award referred to as the “Nobel Peace Prize equivalent for Education”. Read more.

2018 — Ashesi Receives Charter from the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo
In a letter signed by the Minister of State for Tertiary Education, the Ministry of Education has announced that the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, has granted a Presidential Charter to Ashesi University. With this award, the University now becomes an independent degree-granting institution.

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