Ashesi University College
Ashesi University is a private, secular, liberal arts college located in Berekuso, a town near Aburi, an hour’s drive from Ghana's capital, Accra. The university opened in March 2002, founded by Patrick Awuah, a graduate of Swarthmore College and Haas School of Business. Ashesi’s mission is to train a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial business leaders in Africa and to nurture excellence in scholarship, leadership and citizenship. Ashesi, which means “beginning” in the Akan language is a new beginning for higher education in Ghana. Housed in a campus that is equipped with state-of-the-art computers and the latest teaching materials, Ashesi University is at the forefront of a move towards a new pedagogy in African higher education. The university is accredited by the Ghanaian National Accreditation Board and features a four-year bachelors program grounded in a liberal arts core curriculum, offering degrees in Business Administration, Management Information Systems and Computer Science. With an academic program designed in collaboration with 24 professors from Swarthmore College, University of California, Berkeley and University of Washington, Ashesi offers an educational experience unlike anything else available in West Africa today.
Ashesi was founded by Patrick G. Awuah Jr., a Ghanaian who had spent over 15 years living and working in the United States. Awuah left Ghana in 1985 to attend Swarthmore College on a full scholarship, after which he worked for Microsoft Corporation as an engineer and a program manager for eight years. Experiencing firsthand the dramatic impact that education can have on one's life, Awuah embarked on a mission in 1997 to provide greater educational opportunities in Ghana. He enrolled at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, both to evaluate the feasibility of his goal and to gain a broader range of managerial skills with which to found and manage a university.
The Meaning of Ashesi
If there is anything you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
These words by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are the inspiration behind the university's name, Ashesi, which means "beginning" in Akan, a native Ghanaian language. Ashesi's founder, Patrick Awuah, first read Goethe's words at a time when he was still questioning the wisdom of undertaking such an ambitious project. Encouraged by Goethe's words, he began by undertaking a feasibility study of his idea. Clarifying the risks and issues at hand helped Awuah shed his reservations until one day he realized that he had lost his hesitation and had become very committed to this project. He then realized, "This really is the beginning!" But the name Ashesi is not only about its founder's inspiration. It is also about providing a new beginning for every student who comes to Ashesi.
During the summer of 1998, a team of four MBA students from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business traveled to Ghana to conduct extensive market research and evaluate the feasibility of establishing a new university. With the explicit goal of gathering statistically significant data to provide a strong foundation for business decisions, the team administered over 3,300 surveys to students and parents; conducted interviews and focus groups with parents, teachers and business leaders; and gathered secondary information from local and international sources. The result was a comprehensive feasibility study analyzing the Ghanaian tertiary education landscape by addressing both the demand and supply sides of the question of feasibility.
Expansion Plans and Future Campus
In the fall of 2009, Ashesi University broke ground on the construction of its new future campus located in Berekuso, outside Accra. The first phase of the new campus will include a complete library, three computer labs, administrative and faculty offices, two classroom buildings and dormitories. A global community of donors, primarily from the US and Africa, have contributed $3.3 million so far for the campus construction.
On the 27th of August, 2011 Ashesi inaugurated its new permanent campus in Berekuso.
Based on traditional architecture, the Ashesi campus overlooks Accra and has a series of courtyards interconnected with a beautiful landscape of trees, benches and stairs that create a natural and peaceful environment for learning, community building and recreation. The campus’ dormitories have been designed to equally support this environment and will allow Ashesi to house more than half of its student population on campus.
Ashesi’s campus also features state-of-the-art educational technology and environmentally conscious designs, that will help the University attract top students, faculty and administrators, and will strengthen Ashesi's commitment to fostering a community whose culture inspires a new generation of ethical entrepreneurial leaders in Africa.
The current campus marks the completion of phase one of Ashesi’s three-phase campus plan. Started early in 2010, 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.