Ashesi says goodbye to three key staff members
March 28, 2013, 7:21 pm
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This month, Ashesi said goodbye to three members of our staff. Development Director, Matthew Taggart, Computer Science professor, Dr. Astrid Larssen, and Emerita Professor and Dean of Academic Affairs, Nana Araba Apt, have retired from their posts at Ashesi. Matt and Nana were key members of Ashesi’s founding team, and helped lead the university as it transitioned from small rented buildings to a world-class permanent campus. Dr. Larssen joined Ashesi in 2007, and has become a great mentor and advisor to many of Ashesi’s students and alumni.

Reflecting on Ashesi’s early years, Dr. Awuah said, “People remark about the success of Ashesi when they visit us and see our campus, but what is often missed is the sweat, the sacrifice, and the grit of the team

that worked to build this institution, and the community that is working to preserve this legacy for future generations.”

Professor Apt, Mr. Taggart, and Dr. Larssen, thank you for your work and dedication to Ashesi over the years. You will be deeply missed!

Send your best wishes to Matt, Nana and Astrid by posting a comment on our blog!


2012 Annual Trip participant reflects on her adventure to Ghana
February 28, 2013, 5:49 pm
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Each year donors and advocates join Ashesi on a memorable journey to Ghana. Ashesi had the pleasure of hosting long-time Ashesi supporter, Laurie Litwack, on our 2012 Annual Trip. Laurie is a career and wellness coach from Seattle who first heard about Ashesi when Patrick left Microsoft to pursue his vision. She has watched as his dream came to fruition over the last decade. See what Laurie had to say about her experiences on the Annual Trip.

What inspired you to go on Ashesi’s annual trip to Ghana?

Visiting Ashesi is an adventure with a purpose. You are seeing something new and great being created in Africa, which is exciting!

Laurie Litwack & Patrick AwuahWhat was your impression of campus—its culture, students, leadership?

Campus feels like an oasis. It is a place away. It stands in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city, where there are lots of people, commerce, sounds and colors. Ashesi is a sort of educational oasis—it still feels African and Ghanaian, but there is a calmness. You sense that you are being welcomed to a place of learning and integrity. Visiting campus is a powerful experience.

Last year, trip participants took part in the Giving Voice to Values ethics seminar with students and faculty. What did you think of this workshop?

Giving Voice to Values gives an effective impression of the school. The issues raised were transformative, inspiring and spoke to real values and how we put them into a context—we have to live them in the world. Students brought back real experiences which forced us to clarify where does our reality lie and ask how do our values engage in the world. I loved interacting with students and faculty in personal and one on one meetings—I found this very meaningful.

If you could let a future trip participant know anything about the trip, what would you let them know?

Visiting Ghana is a fun, inspiring adventure, a chance to step into culture through the guiding hands of Ashesi and see the profound impact of students as they go into the world with the skills and integrity they are developing. You really see the vitality and diversity of the country.

Please take a look at our trip brochure and trip itinerary for more details on our 2013 Annual Trip!

My Visit to Ashesi
October 25, 2012, 4:49 pm
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By Eric Doku

Eric is an Ashesi donor supporting scholarships through the Ghanaian’s at Microsoft scholarship fund. He was born in Kumasi, Ghana and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Electronics with an emphasis in Robotics from Budapest Technical University.  Eric has been with Microsoft for the past 9.5 years and works as a programmer/technical writer.

On Thursday, September 20th 2012 I arrived at the brand, spanking new Ashesi campus for a pre-arranged visit to take in the atmosphere and (if possible) meet with some of the students.

With Angelina in the amphitheater

I was met by Ebenezer Buckman and Matthew Taggart of Ashesi and, after some brief introductions, Matthew decided to show me around the campus.

Little did I know that Matthew was about to spend almost a whole hour, walking with me and sharing background info about the programs for the students, the services and some interesting tidbits about the newer lectures. Matthew related the energy and passion that had been recently injected into one of the courses by a lecturer named Ayokor Korsah, a graduate from Carnegie Mellon who is now teaching a robotics module at Ashesi!

Robotics?! After I finished wiping the unmistakable drool off the corners of my mouth, I asked Matthew about the impact that Mrs. Kosah’s course was having. And the answer was “…actually, it’s very impressive. We even had a robotics competition recently between teams of students!

Some Highlights

Walking around and seeing the students, made me realize the importance of what we’re doing for these young people! They’re exposed to so much technology and in such a nurturing environment that a part of me wished I was back in college – at Ashesi.

Matthew managed to arrange a quick 3-minute chat with Angelina just as she was running from one class to the next, and I later met with Regina for about 20 min at the end of her classes. These are the two young ladies that Ghanaians at Microsoft are sponsoring through University, and they showed such gratitude and appreciation that I was both humbled and a bit embarrassed.

With Regina after our 20-min chat

Regina also shared some news with me that totally blew me away and made me even more proud of the fact that I’m playing a role in this young woman’s life!

Regina and some students formed a team and set out to satisfy an academic and community service requirement by identifying a problem, and then coming up with a solution. They weren’t required to implement the solution. BUT this team was not satisfied with just coming up with a theoretical solution for an assignment.

Long story short, Regina and her team have now helped the Berekuso traders to form a Trader’s Association and they’ve coordinated with EB-Accion to provide micro-loans to the qualified traders!

Imagine that – because of our sponsorship for Angelina and Regina, there are some traders in Berekuso who now have the loans that they need for growing their business!!

Some micro-loan recipients

In Summary

–          When we sponsor students for University degrees, there’s no telling how far our help extends.

–          The selection process was definitely effective in identifying students who are so gifted, passionate and so driven that helping them financially is an absolute no-brainer.

–          The Ashesi teaching model is so integrated into the everyday world around these students that it’s easy for them to transition from lecture hall to the working world, as valuable contributors.

–          And, by the way, I just made my yearly contribution through the Microsoft Giving Campaign!

Robotics competition: pineapple-harvesting robots

Message to the Ashesi Community regarding President John Atta Mills’ death
July 27, 2012, 6:27 pm
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By Patrick G. Awuah, Jr.

25th July, 2012

We are all saddened by the news of President John Atta Mills’ death this afternoon.  President Mills was widely recognized as a man of deep faith, and a champion of human rights and peace.  He will be remembered fondly by all of us.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his wife, First Lady Ernestina Naadu Mills.

ImageAs we mourn the sad event of this day, let us also pause to recognize and thank the leaders of Ghana’s democratic institutions – the Executive Branch, the Parliament, and the Supreme Court – for the remarkable work they are doing to shepherd Ghana through this transition.  It is a real testament to the leaders of Ghana that Vice President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as president by the Chief Justice, at an emergency sitting of Parliament, just a few hours after President Mills’ passing.

Our new President was the guest of honour at our campus inauguration in 2011. I was personally struck by Mahama’s commitment to Ghana’s development and especially to the youth of this country, during my conversations with him at that event.  I was thrilled by his public embrace of Ashesi’s model of fostering critical thinking, ethical wisdom, and innovation.

I also offer my thanks to the leaders of opposition parties who have called for a spirit of unity at this difficult time.  This solemn and orderly transition demonstrates the growing strength of Ghana’s democracy.  I am convinced that Ghana’s response in the coming days and months will show the world and the international members of the Ashesi Community – foreign students, visiting faculty and donors – that Ghana is firmly on the path of stability and development.

On behalf of the Ashesi Community and on my own behalf, I wish our new President Mahama well in his new role at the helm of Ghana. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to him for the task he takes on today to guide the ship of the Ghanaian state.