Westminster College welcomes first African American president

4 years 8 months 1 week ago Saturday, October 31 2015 Oct 31, 2015 Saturday, October 31, 2015 7:07:09 PM CDT October 31, 2015 in News
By: Melissa Zygowicz, KOMU 8 Reporter

FULTON - Change is in the air at Westminster college as the school welcomed it's first African American president.

Dr. Benjamin Akande is the first Nigerian-born president of any liberal arts college in America. He is the twenty-first president of the 165-year-old school.

Akande comes from Webster University in St. Louis where he served as the Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and technology. He succeeds Dr. George B. Forsythe, who retired after 10 years at Westminster.

Akande said he expects there to be a lot fo change at the school. He said the feed back he received so far from students is nothing but positive.

"I got so much love this week. I asked them a favor, please keep loving me because it really helps to create for me a real sense of embracement," Akande said.

More than a thousand students and staff watched Akande become the first African American president at Westminster. Akande's family and friends were also in attendance and traveled as far as Nigeria to watch the historic inauguration.

Akande said he is encouraging students, faculty and staff to be open to new that are "bold and forward-looking" to focus on what he calls "next practices."

Westminster College's global reputation is very important and unique to the school. One change that will greatly impact the school is the school's new partnership with Oyo State in Nigeria. Students and faculty will get the opportunity to learn and teach at a public university in Nigeria. Students in Nigeria will also get the chance to come learn at Westminster College.

Former Nigerian Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi announced the partnership and said it is a big deal for both Westminster and Oyo State.

"This partnership will help our students become globally competitive, and enable them to improve their communities in Nigeria. Such partnerships are vital for academic institutions and for governments in this increasingly globalized era,” Ajimobi said.

The academic partnership is Westminster college's first student and faculty exchange program in Africa. The program will become effective in September of 2016.

Westminster College is the nation's eighth-highest ranked small liberal arts school for percentage of international students. It's 1,000 students are from 28 different states and 76 countries.

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