Ashesi University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ashesi University College
Motto Scholarship Leadership Citizenship
Type Private
Established 2002
Affiliation University of Cape Coast, University of Mines and Technology, Association of African Universities, Association of American Colleges & Universities, Global Liberal Arts Alliance and Council of Independent Universities
President Patrick Awuah
Undergraduates Around 800
Location Berekuso, Accra, Ghana
5°45′33″N 0°13′12″W / 5.759066°N 0.220065°W / 5.759066; -0.220065Coordinates: 5°45′33″N 0°13′12″W / 5.759066°N 0.220065°W / 5.759066; -0.220065
Current degree programs Business Administration and Computer Science and Management information systems and Engineering
Colours Terracotta, Black and White

Ashesi University is a private, non-profit liberal arts college located in Ghana, West Africa.

It offers a four-year bachelors programme grounded in a liberal core curriculum, featuring majors in Business Administration, Management Information Systems, Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.


  • Association of American Colleges and Universities
  • Council of Independent Universities
  • Association of African Universities


Ashesi was founded by Patrick Awuah, a Ghanaian who 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 first hand 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 in business school at the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, both to evaluate the feasibility of his goal and to gain managerial skills with which to found and manage a university.

  • 1997: Founder Patrick Awuah gives up his US software career to return to Africa. He decides to create a new kind of African university.[1]
  • 1998: Patrick Awuah and graduate students from UC Berkeley conduct a feasibility study for a new private university in Ghana.
  • 1999: Ashesi University Foundation was founded and is spearheaded by a Board of Trustees and management governance whose efforts are complemented by Advisory Boards located in the US and Ghana.
  • 2002: Ashesi University opens its doors in a rented house converted to classrooms, with a class of 30 students.
  • 2005: Of the pioneer class graduates, 95% chose to stay to Africa.
  • 2006: Ashesi students elect first woman university student government president in Ghana’s history.
  • 2007: A UC Berkeley study finds that local and multinational employers rate Ashesi and Ashesi Graduates number 1 in Ghana in Quality of Curriculum, Career Preparation, Communication Skills, Maturity, Professional Skills, and Ethics.
  • 2008: Students vote to adopt Examination Honour Code - Africa’s first. Financial sustainability: fees from students who can afford to pay cover annual operating expenses. Capital Campaign for new campus begins
  • 2009: Construction starts for permanent campus in Berekuso.
  • 2011: New campus completed—on schedule and on budget ($6.4M). Enrollment tops 500 as Vice-President of Ghana inaugurates campus.
  • 2012: The MasterCard Foundation partners to provide $13 million in Ashesi scholarships to students from 11 African countries.
  • 2013: Groundbreaking for construction to start on engineering building where Ashesi will educate engineers who will design infrastructure and products for Africa.
  • 2015: The first engineering class enroll at Ashesi University on the 7th of September 2015.

The Meaning of Ashesi[edit]

Alt text
The Todd & Ruth Warren Library at 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.[2] Ashesi's founder, Patrick Awuah, first read Goethe's words when he was questioning the wisdom of undertaking such an ambitious project. Encouraged by these words, he began by undertaking a feasibility study. Clarifying the risks and issues at hand helped Awuah shed his reservations; one day he realised that he had lost his hesitation and had become very committed to this project. He then realised, "This really is the beginning!" The name Ashesi is not only about its founder's inspiration. It is also about providing a new beginning for every student attends.

The Ashesi logo, a hand drawn symbol, borrows from the tradition of "Adinkra design", used by the Akan people of Ghana to embody their knowledge, their moral and ethical beliefs, and their history. Ashesi's mark is a visual representation of Ashesi's mission. The lower part of the Ashesi mark is in the shape of a stool whose support structure consists of three pillars. These correspond to Ashesi's core values of scholarship, leadership and citizenship. Stools hold significant cultural meaning for the Akan people of Ghana.

The circle above the stool depicts a morning sun and symbolized a new beginning. It is also the center of an eye, which symbolizes intellectual exploration and discovery. At a distance, the mark as a whole resembles a person standing under a roof, reflecting Ashesi's focus on the people in and around its community: students, teachers, parents and members of the broader society.

Feasibility study[edit]

During the summer of 1998, a team of four MBA students from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business travelled to Ghana to conduct extensive market research and evaluate the feasibility of establishing a new university. With the goal of gathering data to provide a 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,[3] analysing Ghanaian tertiary education.

Ashesi campus[edit]

Set on 100 acres in Berekuso, overlooking Ghana's capital city of Accra, Ashesi’s campus unites traditional Ghanaian design, modern technology and environmental best practices. The campus has interconnected courtyards, that emphasize a sense of community. The architecture borrows from the Ghanaian vernacular, with echoes of traditional compound houses, as well as elements of traditional Northern dwellings. The natural contours of the site are used in concert with buildings to create exterior gathering spaces throughout campus, as well as ramps that provide wheel chair access to buildings. Buildings are designed to maximize natural views, light and ventilation.

Ground water is supplemented with harvested rainwater, filtered and treated to provide potable water all year round. A community-scale sewage and organic treatment plant provides environmental and economic benefits by converting waste to biogas for some of the campus’ cooking needs and recycling treated water for landscaping.

Building a Community of Trust: The Ashesi Honour Code[edit]

Alt text
A student signs a pledge to uphold integrity at Ashesi

In keeping with Ashesi’s mission to educate a new generation of ethical leaders, the faculty and executives of Ashesi University approved in November 2007 a proposal to formally invite selected classes at Ashesi to adopt an Honour Code for examinations at the university.

The code was voted into force by students in January 2008. Also effective January 2008, all incoming first year and transfer students will be required to sign on to the Examination Honour Code prior to admission to the university, and will receive extensive orientation about the code.

The adoption of the Examination Honour Code marks a significant step in the history of Ashesi University.[4]

Rankings and media coverage[edit]

In 2012, the university was ranked by PwC as the seventh most respected organisation in Ghana, becoming the first university to make the list. Ashesi's President, Dr. Patrick Awuah, was also ranked the 4th Most Respected CEO in Ghana.[5] In 2015, again named Ashesi among its list of top 10 African Universities (excluding South Africa).[6]

It has also been ranked as one of Ghana's 50 Best Places to work (2015), according to a survey by Ghanaian consulting firm Goodman AMC; it was again, the only university on the list.[7]

In 2013, CNN shared the story of Ashesi and its founder on its African Voices programme. In the interview, Ashesi's President said: "If you come back in 30 years, universities will be competing for the best and brightest students. I hope that universities will also be competing on things such as whose students are the most ethical. If that happens, it will change the continent."[8]

In 2015, Ashesi's President was ranked by Fortune (magazine) as one of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders, together with the likes of Bill & Melinda Gates, Pope Francis and founder of, Jeff Bezos. The list according to Forbes, was made up of men and women who "in an era that feels starved for leadership, will inspire you—some famous, others little known, all of them energizing their followers and making the world better." [9]

See also[edit]



External links[edit]