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IU establishes international office in Ghana, as first public US university with gateway in Africa

For Immediate Release May 21, 2024

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Building on decades of collaborative research, international partnerships and global health efforts in Africa, Indiana University has formally launched a new Global Gateway office in Accra, Ghana. IU is the only public university in the United States to have a gateway of this sort on the continent.

“At Indiana University, we have ambitious goals for faculty to pursue transformational research with partners around the globe and for our students to have extraordinary educational experiences abroad,” IU President Pamela Whitten said. “The IU Ghana Gateway formalizes decades of IU engagement in the region and places us at the center of the world’s fastest-emerging economic hub.”

Cathie Carrigan, Hilary Kahn and Miguel Ayllon From left, Cathie Carrigan, Global Gateway Network director; Hilary Kahn, interim vice president for international affairs; and Miguel Ayllon, associate vice president for international affairs, at the launch of the IU Ghana Gateway on May 20 at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences. Photo courtesy of IU Global

With the establishment of the IU Ghana Gateway, the university’s sixth such facility around the world, IU now boasts more international gateways than any other public university in the United States. Hilary Kahn, IU interim vice president for international affairs, formally launched the gateway during a ceremony and ribbon-cutting on May 20 at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This bold step comes at a formative time for both the university and the continent. Africa represents the future of innovation and education, with 70% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population under the age of 30. The United Nations projected that by 2050, Africa’s population will reach nearly 2.5 billion. The establishment of the IU Ghana Gateway also aligns with the university’s commitment — as part of its IU 2030 strategic plan — to fostering engagement, partnership and collaboration that strengthen the vitality of Indiana, the nation and the world.

Read stories about IU’s engagement in Africa

Like IU’s other international offices in Mexico City, New Delhi, Bangkok, Beijing and Berlin, the IU Ghana Gateway is designed to strengthen and broaden IU’s global engagement across world regions. Since the Beijing and New Delhi gateways were established nearly 10 years ago, these offices have connected more than 2,200 IU students with global internships, virtual exchanges and study abroad.

They have also served as interdisciplinary embassies for IU researchers abroad; gathering spaces for the university’s more than 140,000 internationally engaged alumni; proxy campuses for prospective international students; and hubs for cultural exchange between IU and its international university partners, nongovernmental organizations and local governments.

“Universities foster intercultural learning and competence, skills necessary for our students to thrive in a globalized world,” Kahn said. “Too often we are limited by geography to conversations that stop at our borders, but by committing to having a physical presence in Ghana, IU engages with rising social, economic and cultural leaders across Africa where they are. The Ghana Gateway will continue to connect students and scholars to global conversations and collective problem-solving on the African continent.”

Distinguished Professor of Linguistics Samuel Obeng will serve as the IU Ghana Gateway’s academic director, playing a key role in expanding IU’s strategic connections in the region. A leading scholar known for his pioneering contributions to the study of African language phonetics, Obeng was inducted into the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in November 2023 and gave his inaugural lecture on May 20 following the gateway launch.

Hilary Khan, Kewsi Yankah and Kofi Nti From left, IU interim Vice President for International Affairs Hilary Kahn, IU alumnus and former Minister of Education for Tertiary Education of Ghana Kwesi Yankah, and Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences President Kofi Nti at the gateway ribbon-cutting. Photo courtesy of IU Global

The IU Ghana Gateway will expand relationships with universities and organizations in Ghana, as well as leverage the university’s several existing partnerships on the continent, such as the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare partnership in Kenya. AMPATH, which IU established with Moi University and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital nearly 35 years ago, is a partnership to build health systems that promote well-being in underserved communities.

The IU Office of International Development has a long history of engagement in Africa as well, including the Partnerships in Business Entrepreneurship and Leadership Transformation project designed to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in Ethiopia.

IU is also involved in the $70 million LASER PULSE initiative, an ongoing five-year USAID project to promote “embedded research translation” as a strategy to ensure that development research is co-designed with development practitioners and results in useful and usable solutions. In May 2023, the Office of International Development oversaw and facilitated an event organized through LASER PULSE that brought more than 85 university leaders and researchers together in Kampala, Uganda, to support higher education institutions across sub-Saharan Africa.

Indiana University faculty are leaders in teaching less commonly taught African languages. Since 1965, the African Studies Program at IU Bloomington has offered more than 100 courses and tutorials in 40 African languages. The IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies attracts more than 600 students each year who study African languages.

Over the past 10 years, more than 1,200 IU students have studied abroad in more than 23 African countries, with the majority of students spending time in South Africa, Ghana and Kenya. African students make up 4.8% of international students across IU, with more than 356 students from the continent enrolled in fall 2023. Nigeria ranks No. 6 for international student enrollment at IU.

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