While the world is literally scampering for safety from the onslaught of the vicious coronavirus that has gained global notoriety lately for being the latest Grim Reaper, some Nigerians still manage to achieve new feats, even if with muted celebration.
Benjamin Ola Akande, a professor of Economics, was on Tuesday April 21, 2020 announced the ninth president (vice chancellor) of the Champlain University, an American ivy league institution.
Champlain College, founded in 1878, is a private university in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain was ranked among the top 100 regional universities in the North and named a “Most Innovative School” for the fifth year in a row by U.S. News & World Report.
Announcing his appointment on Tuesday, the board of trustees of the college described Akande as a respected scholar educator and global business authority.
He assumes his new role from July 1, 2020, succeeding Dr. Laurie Quinn, Champlain’s provost and senior vice president for academics, who has been serving as interim president since July 1, 2019.
“Dr. Akande is an agent of change and a visionary leader with a global perspective. His enterprising mindset and commitment to student success will be essential as he leads Champlain College in an evolving higher education landscape.
“We look forward to welcoming Dr. Akande to Champlain and supporting his work to advance the college’s strategic position and build on the strength of our distinctive academic offerings,” said Champlain College board of trustees chair, Charles Kittredge.
Named one of the city’s ‘Most Influential Leaders’ by the St. Louis Business Journal, Dr. Akande is an accomplished economist as well as a recognized civic and business leader.
Akande currently serves as the assistant vice chancellor for international affairs–Africa, and the associate director of the Global Health Centre at Washington University in St. Louis.
He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma and served as a tenured Professor of Economics and dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University in St. Louis from 2000 to 2015. As dean, Akande was credited with helping to secure the ‘$10 million naming gift’, the largest in the institution’s history.
While the 21st president of the Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri from 2015 to 2017 (the first black man to occupy that position), Dr. Akande was said to have strengthened the college’s infrastructure and financial sustainability, transformed academic offerings, and reimagined marketing and communication strategies to build the college’s brand identity.
“I am humbled and honoured by the opportunity to lead Champlain College during this period of great transformation and even greater opportunity. While the challenges we currently face as global citizens are daunting, they also sharpen our focus and urge us both individually and as a community to lead from wherever we are.
“The commitment to educating adaptable thinkers, daring change-makers and inclusive innovators who shape professions and inspire communities is what sets Champlain College apart. I look forward to taking this journey with you and thank you for the trust you have placed in me to further Champlain College’s mission together,” Akande said.
Benjamin Ola Akande was born in Nigeria in 1962. His father, a renowned Baptist minister, Rev. Dr. Samuel Ola Akande, and mother, Comfort Olalonpe, set high standards for him and his four sisters and encouraged them to aim high.
He moved to the United States at the age of 17 to further his education in 1979 and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the Wayland Baptist University. He proceeded to the University of Oklahoma where he completed master’s degrees in Economics and Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Economics. He also completed post-doctoral courses at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Saïd School of Business at Oxford University.
He has been a consultant to the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme, as well as consulted for Fortune 500 companies and private enterprise.
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