Akande named Westminster College\'s 21st president

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FULTON - For the first time in its 164-year history, an African-American will be leading Westminster College.

Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande was named the 21st president of the school on Friday. 

"We're proud to introduce Dr. Akande as president of Westminster College," said Wallace L. Head, chairman of the Westminster Board of Trustees. "We've achieved our year-long goal of finding the most qualified person to lead Westminster and to continue executing our strategic plan."

Akande comes to Westminster after serving as Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University in St. Louis for the past 15 years. He believes his time there will help him out in his new role.

"Education is about people, it's about trying to transform them, listening to them, engaging with them and that has significantly prepared me for this position," he said.

Born in Nigeria, Akande came to the U.S. in 1979 to attend Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, TX. He later earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma and completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard and Oxford.

Akande said he's very humbled from this experience of being named president. 

"I never really dreamed about this day," Akande said. "I've always focused on where I was and doing the best I can and trying to have an impact on people's lives. I kept focused on transforming lives. If I kept focus in the lives of young men and young women the opportunities would be boundless but I clearly had no perspective on the fact that this day would come."

As well, Akande is honored to be the first African-American leader at the institution. 

"I understand the historical and symbolic aspect of being the first African-American president," Akdande said. "I take that very seriously and take that as a challenge as well as an opportunity to make sure I continue to help this institution move forward."

Akande said his goals for his first 100 days in office is to listen to his constituents and talk with administrators, faculty and students, and to explore the Fulton area and meet people in the community. 

He will take office July 1, succeeding Dr. George B. Forsythe, president since 2008, who is retiring after 10 years at Westminster.