Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi yesterday hailed the emergence of Dr. Benjamin Akande as the first African-American president of the Westminster College, United States, as another global recognition for the contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora to the body of knowledge.
The governor said that the feat by Akande, an indigene of Awe in Oyo State, was a defining moment for the country and an affirmation that the United States’ reward system was devoid of racial bias.
He encouraged other Nigerians living outside the shores of the country to emulate the commitment, dedication and competence of Akande, whom he described as a worthy ambassador of the state.
Ajimobi said, “The inauguration of Dr. Akande as Westminster’s new president is a proud moment for those of us from Oyo State, from Awe, Dr. Akande’s ancestral hometown, and it is a proud moment for all Nigerians.
“Dr. Akande is a symbol of excellence; an emblem of the endurance of the American Dream, and the United States’ willingness to embrace and reward anyone who is willing to work hard and excel.
“This is the type of achievements that defines Nigerians as hardworking, honest and competent people, who work assiduously to attain the highest position in their chosen careers anywhere they find themselves across the world.”
Akande, 53, attended the Wayland Baptist University, Plainview, Texas, United States, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.
He bagged his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma and completed his post-doctoral studies at Harvard and Oxford Universities.
Before his new appointment, Akande served as the dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, Webster University, St. Louis, US.
Akande succeeded Dr. George Forsythe as the 21st president of Westminster, a liberal arts college founded 165 years ago.
His predecessor had retired after serving for 10 years at the college.
In his inaugural remarks, Akande expressed gratitude to the authorities of the college for considering him worthy of the appointment, noting that he was determined to challenge the status quo to bring change to the institution.
He said, “This is no easy task because status quo has a large constituency. Yet, we cannot let the chains of status quo prevent us from fulfilling our future; to embrace a broad spectrum of possibilities and to create a truly exceptional place.
“I’m encouraging students, faculty staff, and the Board of Trustees to be open to new ideas that are bold and forward-looking; to focus on next practices, instead of best practices, and to move beyond your comfort zones.”
Akande expressed optimism that Westminster would achieve greater significance by empowering learning communities, creating landmark academic programmes and by embracing global opportunities.
Also at the event was the chancellor of Washington University, Dr. Mark S. Wrighton, who praised Akande as a person of “high integrity committed to the success of his students and faculty.”

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