About me:

I'm Patrick Awuah, and in 2002 I founded Ashesi University in my native Ghana. Ashesi is a four-year private institution that offers a core curriculum grounded in liberal arts, ethical principles, and skills for contemporary African needs and opportunities. I was educated at American universities, and I had a successful career as a Microsoft engineer, but a vision for better higher education in Ghana drew me back home.

In a little over a decade, Ashesi is already firmly established as one of Ghana’s premier universities. Our graduates have found quality employment, and almost all remain in Africa, where many have started much-needed information technology businesses. In 2015, I was named a MacArthur Fellow.

NOTE: I'll hop on at 11ET to begin answering questions, but feel free to go ahead and get them in now!

SECOND EDIT: Hello everyone, I just joined the conversation; I am looking forward to my very first Reddit AMA!

FINAL EDIT: Thanks so much everyone for the questions, but it's time for me to hop off! Really enjoyed this session and I hope to be back on again someday. Best, Patrick.

Proof: http://imgur.com/8NUzpIG https://www.macfound.org/fellows/929/

Comments: 45 • Responses: 12  • Date: 

yawasamoah7 karma

How accessible is the university to ordinary or underprivileged Ghanaian youth?

macfound7 karma

PA: We strive to make our institution accessible to everyone. Currently, 55 percent of our students receive scholarships. 29 percent receive full scholarships (tuition, housing, meals, etc.)

kipyegonmark3 karma

What would you say is the biggest learning experience from setting up such a massive project?

macfound7 karma

PA: I have two significant learning experiences that I would like to share. First, I have learned that working with integrity is fundamental to achieving excellence. Second, I am very keenly aware of the fact that Ashesi would not have been possible without the contributions of many people. Nothing significant can be accomplished by just one individual.

mykesamanquah3 karma

Hello Patrick. Appreciate your good work. Do you plan to host postgraduate courses anytime soon? Really itching to join your school.

macfound3 karma

PA: We will probably develop a few postgraduate courses in the future. For now, our focus is on expanding and strengthening our undergraduate programs. Undergraduate education will likely remain the core of Ashesi.

aaron40133 karma

How much did a former job at Microsoft help you with the University?

macfound11 karma

PA: At Microsoft, I learned to work in teams, gained experience managing complex projects, developed grit, and gained a network of colleagues whose support has been invaluable to Ashesi. My work at Microsoft also gave me the financial leverage to take the risk of moving back to Ghana with my family to start Ashesi.

iamraheem1 karma

I am a big fan. Quick question: Is Ashesi University an educational qualification based (e.g WASCCE or SSCE aggregate 36 or better) or it places more importance in knowing the applicant and what you can offer him and what he has to offer? Does it mean I can't be enrolled into a University because I got aggregate 40? Thank you.

macfound3 karma

PA: Ashesi's admissions process evaluates applicants on the basis of academic achievement and factors such as leadership potential and character. We really do try to know the applicant before making a decision.

redditreddit44441 karma

What was it like to receive the MacArthur Fellowship? How does it impact you and the university?

macfound3 karma

PA: Receiving the MacArthur Fellowship was amazing! It's a very strong validator of Ashesi's work, and we're all excited about it.

dawgisyoumadornaw1 karma

Another Berkeley grad doing great things! What are some of your most memorable times at Berkeley?

macfound3 karma

PA: I loved the entrepreneurial spirit at the Berkeley Haas School of Business! There were lots of great projects going on all around me. Loved the ropes course (an outdoors leadership and team building course). Developing Ashesi's business plan with some of my colleagues at the business school and dreaming up a vision for Ashesi's campus with students from the architecture school was simply an amazing experience.

WeHateSand1 karma

I'm a computer science major. Is there any way I could inquire about possibly helping in a computer science program at Ashesi?

Aseros1 karma

Would you rather fight 1 Horse-Sized Duck or 100 Duck-Sized Horses?

macfound14 karma

PA: This is fun question. I would seek more information before making a choice. For example, I would want to understand the strength and speed of the horse-sized duck and the duck-sized horse. I would also want to better understand the terrain we would fighting on. Would we be in water or on land? I would want to know what weapons would be available to me.

miketysons1 karma

Thanks for coming on here, Patrick! Having experienced the situation in both US and African higher ed, what inefficiencies do you see in the American scheme, and what do you see as the next big revolution in American higher education?

macfound5 karma

PA: One thing that concerns me about the US higher education model is the high cost. Most US universities and colleges provide a very rich learning experience, but at high cost. I believe that universities can achieve similar learning outcomes to their current performance, with fewer course electives and higher student-faculty ratios than the current norm. It is very difficult to predict what the next big revolution will be, but I'm sure that it will be driven by technology.

mykesamanquah1 karma

This may sound odd but can I get an invitation to tour your school and how do I get one? I just couldn't help but ask.

macfound5 karma

PA: Yes, you are welcome to visit during the weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. Just go to the admissions office, and someone can arrange a tour for you. For directions to campus, see http://www.ashesi.edu.gh/about/contact-us.html

iamraheem-3 karma

Don't you agree with me that graduations, examinations, various tests are all walls that block ones capability of thinking and delivering? Do you also agree with me that the GES needs to have a reform of our educational system, reintroduce a proper “STEM system” mixed with “Liberal Education” as both “types” of education are extremely valuable and necessary for a prosperous society. Will you also agree with me that it is simply “easier” to administer what we call “progress” through taking standardized tests versus using more hands-on, real-world experiences that are relevant to students?

macfound2 karma

PA: I agree that the liberal arts and STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are valuable components of any educational system. I also agree that students' performance should not only be evaluated on the basis of sit-down exams, but also on the basis projects and hands-on experiences.