“Only 5% of college-age students in Ghana are enrolled in college. It’s a low number, and it needs to grow,” says Patrick Awuah, 45, cofounder of Ashesi University in Ghana. Awuah, a former Microsoft program manager, began working on Ashesi while studying at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. The new school opened in 2002 and currently enrolls 462 students. Unlike most developing-world universities, which “focus on memorizing information and regurgitating it,” Ashesi emphasizes critical thinking and ethics. “The people in college will be running the country one day,” Awuah says. “We must teach them to be compassionate and ethical problem solvers.”
Close to 50 percent of our students receive financial assistance from the university. We wish we could do more, but our resources are limited. In any case, the diversity of experiences makes for a better learning environment for everyone.
No doubt, my experiences at Swarthmore College, Berkeley and Microsoft-where I worked after college-have influenced my leadership at Ashesi University. My introduction to the liberal arts method of education at Swarthmore had an especially profound impact on me, because it introduced me to a whole new way of seeing the world around me. I have become a big believer in the idea of an educational model that provides a very broad perspective and deep ethical bearing for its students.