KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb. 14, 2014) - “I am because you are.” For Bagwell College of…
Georgia (Feb 14, 2014) — KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb. 14, 2014) - “I am because you are.” For Bagwell College of Education Professor Ikechukwu Ukeje, that African philosophy is more than a quaint expression, it infuses and informs every collaboration he creates between Kennesaw State University and its African partners.Link To Website
“It means, I am only as good as I am, if I use what I have to help you become better,” Ukeje said. “So, KSU is as good as it is when it uses what it has to enhance others.”
A professor of elementary and early childhood education, Ukeje has been responsible for the establishment of 10 “Memorandums of Understanding” between KSU and various African organizations and universities, and the revision of another eight agreements. From establishing the first study abroad program in Uganda for student teachers to playing an integral role in inviting, then hosting, the president of Ghana on campus, Ukeje may not be the public face of all the university’s African initiatives, but he’s always there, working in the background.
“The invitation of the President of Ghana to Kennesaw State University was from President Papp, but I was in the Presidential Palace with [Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives] Dr. Barry Morris and [Vice President of Research and Dean of the Graduate College] Dr. Charles Amlaner to deliver the invitation,” Ukeje said. “Kennesaw is seen as a university that is serious about helping African universities by facilitating capacity building.”
A former department chair, Ukeje’s leadership role as coordinator of African partnerships has expanded rapidly since 2010, when he was the coordinator of Bagwell’s faculty exchange program.
“My former dean said, ‘start with what you know, and we’ll establish a blueprint and expand from there,’” said the native of Nigeria. “What I find so much satisfaction in is the life changing impact on our students who study abroad in Africa, and the increased awareness of our faculty of other pedagogical ideas and systems that they use to inform their own teaching philosophies. When you co-teach with somebody, whether directly or indirectly, your teaching changes, and you might not even know it.”
Ukeje said on the African continent, Kennesaw State’s brand recognition is growing, and universities there value the institution’s collaboration.
“KSU prides itself on being a global institution,” he said. “We see our role as providing our educational partners our expertise and providing our faculty, students and staff the opportunity to expand their own programs and activities by working with our African partners.”