Transitions ahead at the Africa Initiative


Benjamin Akande, assistant vice chancellor for international affairs-Africa and associate director of the Global Health Center at Washington University in St. Louis, has been named president of Champlain College in Vermont, effective July 1.

“I would like to congratulate Benjamin for his new role, and thank him for the tremendous progress we have made in the Africa Initiative under his leadership,” said Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor for international affairs. “The university has a much greater collective consciousness about the scope of work with which faculty are engaged on the continent, including the areas of health and human development, and the tremendous opportunities we have in the future.”

During the past two years, the Africa Initiative made headway on multiple fronts. The number of African students applying to the Graduate School at Washington University rose 155% since the initiative was formed; pilot grants were awarded to spur new collaborations; the Africa Speaks series was launched to provide a forum for discussions of faculty research in Africa; a faculty exchange program with the University of Ghana was initiated; and a new website showcases the depth of the university’s research work taking place across disciplines and individual countries.

“With Benjamin’s leadership, we have been able to increase understanding and interest in engaging with Africa,” said William G. Powderly, MD, the Dr. J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine and the Larry J. Shapiro Director of the Institute for Public Health. “We also have an infrastructure within the Vice Chancellor of International Affairs office and the Institute for Public Health to keep the momentum going. We look forward to building upon the strong base of faculty already doing incredible work in Africa.”

Dirks and Powderly are working on next steps that will allow the Africa initiative to continue moving its mission forward.

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