Renowned entrepreneur and founding president of Ghana’s Ashesi University gives Commencement address
An entrepreneur and educator, Patrick Awuah is a visionary leader who created Ashesi University College in 2002 with the mission of educating a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders in Africa. A graduate of Swarthmore College with bachelor’s degrees in engineering and economics, he worked for a decade as an engineer at Microsoft before returning to school for an M.B.A and eventually to his native Ghana to launch his enterprise in higher education.
Awuah has been recognized around the world for his educational innovation and inspiration. Ashesi, which means “beginning” in the Akan language, is the only college of its kind in Africa, advancing science and engineering in the liberal arts tradition and instilling integrity through its student-run honor code. What started in 2002 with 30 students in rented facilities is today recognized as one of the top African universities, with more than 1,300 international students from nearly every African nation and nearly 2,000 alumni, many of whom continue to live and work in Ghana.
Connecticut College’s relationship with Ashesi began in 2014 when a small group of faculty, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, visited the university to explore potential global partnerships. The connection was formalized in 2016 and since that time, faculty, staff and students from both institutions have participated in a variety of courses, trips and other activities. In 2018, an official semester-long exchange program was launched, with both institutions agreeing to welcome visiting students.
In 2007, Awuah received Ghana’s highest service award, the Membership of the Order of the Volta, by His Excellency President J.A. Kufuor. In 2015, Awuah won a MacArthur “genius grant” and Fortune magazine named him one of the 50 greatest world leaders. And in 2017, the World Innovation Summit awarded him its prestigious education prize for his transformative work in African higher education. He is a fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative; a member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations; a member of Pacific Council on International Policy; and an appointee to the UNESCO Futures of Education Initiative.
For his revolutionary achievements in higher education in Ghana, the College is proud to confer upon Patrick Awuah the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, an award that reflects his shared commitment to our own mission of the liberal arts in action.