ACCRA –The U.S. Embassy in Accra and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) formally launched the U.S. State Department Bureau of African Affairs’ University Partnerships Initiative (UPI) at an in-person and virtual launch ceremony on the KNUST campus on Wednesday October 14, 2020. The event was presided over by Professor Rita Akosua Dickson, PhD, Vice-Chancellor of KNUST. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Tibor Nagy, attended the event virtually from Washington, DC and delivered remarks. U.S. Embassy officials attended the event at KNUST and virtually from Accra to support the launch of the UPI which seeks to strengthen existing ties and foster new collaboration between U.S. and African universities through faculty and student exchanges, joint research, administrative capacity-building and public-private partnerships.
Representatives from the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC) and Iowa State University (ISU) also participated in the virtual launch, with each institution providing an overview of the projects they are undertaking at KNUST.
TIEC, in collaboration with the KNUST Business School, is implementing “Flexible Learning: Responding and Reimagining Education in Ghana.” In response to the urgent need for virtual education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TIEC staff has assembled higher education professionals from several universities in Texas to train 30 administrators and faculty to produce quality online and flexible learning. Participants will go on to train other faculty and administrators within KNUST and throughout Ghana. Please visit www.tiec.org/university-partnerships for more information on TIEC’s university partnerships.
ISU is partnering with the KNUST College of Engineering to implement “Institutional Capacity Building through Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Collaboration.” ISU and KNUST faculty and students will partner with the Ullo Traditional Area in the Upper West Region to collaborate on small-scale community development. These projects will promote research-driven solutions to address food security, potable water security, sustainable agriculture, and improved economic opportunity. This ‘learning by doing’ approach will bolster the students’ real-world problem-solving abilities and globalize the undergraduate engineering curriculum at both universities. For more information on this project, please visit the EWB chapter at ISU: www.ewb.stuorg.iastate.edu.
In her welcome remarks, Professor Dickson noted that the TIEC-KNUST project “propels us in our pursuit of building the needed capacity for the establishment of a more resilient and robust e-learning system that ensures seamless academic work all year round and also offer us the opportunity to transfer knowledge to individuals less privileged to access in-person learning experience from our University.” The Vice-Chancellor also endorsed the ISU-KNUST project, saying it “will strengthen our institutional capacity towards achieving our mission as it will position KNUST in an era where academia-community engagement for the socio-economic development of our less privileged communities is paramount.”
Assistant Secretary Nagy applauded the inaugural UPI collaborations in Ghana, stating, “these projects exemplify core principles in American higher education leadership: excellence and innovation in delivery of online education (now of paramount importance as schools rely largely on virtual learning), and hands-on, practical education that when put into action, improves lives.”
Through the UPI, the U.S. Embassy will continue to expand existing links and promote new partnerships at the university level that will strengthen Ghana’s educational institutions as instruments of national development – enhancing the United States and Ghana’s shared goals of regional prosperity, security, and stability.
Read Chargé d’affaires Christopher J. Lamora’s remarks at the event below:
Remarks for CDA Christopher J. Lamora
Launch of Ghana’s University Partnerships Initiative
October 14, 2020, 3:00p.m. – 4:00p.m.
Professor Rita Akosua Dickson, Vice-Chancellor of KNUST
Other honorifics TBD
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy
All protocols observed.
I’m delighted to be with you all today for this launch of the University Partnerships Initiative. Greetings from Accra to our colleagues in Washington, DC and to our partners in Kumasi, in Texas, and in Iowa.
University partnerships are a critical element of collaboration among American and Ghanaian higher education institutions. We estimate that hundreds of these types of partnerships already exist in Ghana, forged through decades of binational academic collaboration. These partnerships have flourished through exchange programs such as Fulbright, which sends Ghanaian students, scholars, and professors to the United States and brings American students, scholars, and visiting professors to study and work in Ghanaian universities.
For these reasons, the U.S. Embassy in Accra was well-poised to implement the new University Partnerships Initiative that is the vision of our Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, who is with us today and who will speak to us in just a few minutes.
The University Partnerships Initiative, or UPI, in which Ghana is one of four African focus countries, seeks to strengthen existing ties and foster new collaboration between U.S. and African universities. Focus areas include faculty and student exchanges, joint research, building administrative capacity, and creating public-private partnerships.
The UPI’s timing was fortuitous. The interruption of in-person learning for Ghanaian students due to COVID-19, and the enormous challenges facing higher education globally, require sustainable e-learning programs that increase access to quality higher education. And as we have seen throughout this crisis, faculty and institutions need support and training.
Fortunately, the U.S. Embassy in Ghana was able to provide funding under the UPI for exactly this type of training, in partnership with the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC), to build faculty capacity to deliver quality, online, and flexible learning and build a bridge to the next generation of students who will increasingly be virtual learners. The initiative for this joint project, known as “Flexible Learning: Responding to and Reimagining Education in Ghana,” came from KNUST faculty in March 2020 because of their existing relationship with TIEC. This is a superb example of what U.S. and Ghanaian universities can do, working together.
The second project we’re launching today builds on a longstanding partnership between Iowa State University (ISU) and KNUST that was also ripe for UPI assistance. Since 2013, the ISU student group Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has worked on community-driven projects in Ghana, most recently implementing a solar-powered, mechanized borehole that distributes 6,000 gallons of water a day to a Senior High boarding school with 1,000 students. KNUST recently established an Engineers Without Borders chapter, building on the two universities’ MOU signed in 2017. Their joint project – Institutional Capacity-Building through Engineers Without Borders Collaboration in the Ullo Traditional Area in the Upper West Region in Ghana” – further strengthens collaboration between the institutions and engages both ISU and KNUST students through interdisciplinary, bilateral STEM projects that bolster their problem-solving skills via “learning by doing.”
Now that I’ve talked a bit about both of these inaugural UPI projects, I’m honored to introduce the visionary behind the University Partnerships Initiative, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy.
Assistant Secretary Nagy, a retired Foreign Service Officer, spent 32 years in government service, including over 20 years in Africa. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia (1999-2002), U.S. Ambassador to Guinea (1996-1999), and Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria (1993-1995), Cameroon (1990-1993), and Togo (1987-1990). Previous assignments include Zambia, the Seychelles, Ethiopia, and Washington, DC. Following his retirement from the Foreign Service, Ambassador Nagy served as Vice Provost for International Affairs at Texas Tech University from 2003 to 2018, during which time he lectured nationally on Africa, foreign policy, international development, and U.S. diplomacy.
And on a personal note, I’d just like to add that I worked for Assistant Secretary Nagy nearly 30 years ago, in my very first diplomatic posting, when he was our Deputy Chief of Mission in Yaoundé and I was just out of university myself and serving at our Consulate General in the Cameroonian city of Douala. In addition to being my boss, he was an early model and mentor, and one of the reasons I’ve dedicated much of my career to fostering U.S. relations with Africa. And so it’s a personal pleasure and honor for me to share some screen time with him today. Assistant Secretary Nagy.