The Champlain College Board of Trustees, on Tuesday announced a Nigerian, Dr. Benjamin Ola Akande, as the ninth President of Champlain College.
Akande, who hails from Aawe in Afijio local government area of Oyo State, is the son of a former General Secretary, Nigerian Baptist Convention, Rev. Dr.S. T. Ola Akande.
A press statement by the college said Akande will assume the role effective July 1, 2020. He will take over from Dr. Laurie Quinn, Champlain’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academics, who has been serving as Interim President since July 1, 2019.
The Champlain College Board of Trustees Chair, Charles Kittredge, said: Dr. Akande is an agent of change and a visionary leader with a global perspective. His enterprising mindset and commitment to student success will be essential as he leads Champlain College in an evolving higher education landscape. We look forward to welcoming Dr. Akande to Champlain and supporting his work to advance the College’s strategic position and build on the strength of our distinctive academic offerings.”
Named one of the city’s “Most Influential Leaders” by the St. Louis Business Journal, Akande is an accomplished economist and scholar educator, as well as a recognized civic and business leader. Akande currently serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Affairs–Africa, and the Associate Director of the Global Health Center at Washington University in St. Louis. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma and served as a tenured Professor of Economics and Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University in St. Louis from 2000-2015. As Dean, Akande was instrumental in securing the $10 million naming gift, the largest in the institution’s history.
While the 21st President of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri from 2015-2017, Akande strengthened the college’s infrastructure and financial sustainability, transformed academic offerings, and reimagined marketing and communication strategies to build the college’s brand identity.
“I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to lead Champlain College during this period of great transformation and even greater opportunity. While the challenges we currently face as global citizens are daunting, they also sharpen our focus and urge us both individually and as a community, to lead from wherever we are.
“The commitment to educating adaptable thinkers, daring change-makers and inclusive innovators who shape professions and inspire communities is what sets Champlain College apart. I look forward to taking this journey with you and thank you for the trust you have placed in me to further Champlain College’s mission together,” Akande said after his announcement.
The selection of Akande was the result of an extensive national search conducted by a broadly representative search committee comprised of students, faculty, staff, Trustees, and a local community member. The committee was supported by Koya Leadership Partners, an executive search firm specializing in mission-driven organizations.
Neale Lunderville, Trustee and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, said: “I want to offer my sincere gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to each of our committee members. Their extraordinary efforts over the past many months produced a strong result: Dr. Akande will be an exceptional President for our exceptional College.
According to the statement, the Board of Trustees and Champlain community are deeply grateful to Dr. Laurie Quinn for her service as Interim President. Dr. Quinn will return to her role as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academics at the conclusion of her term on June 30, 2020.
“It’s my honor to congratulate and warmly welcome Dr. Akande to lead the Champlain community as our next President. Complex times test great leaders, and we are fortunate to be a strong community with a great new leader transitioning in at this time. I’ll be proud to serve on Dr. Akande’s team and to chart Champlain’s future together,” Quinn stated.
Born in Nigeria, Akande went to the United States at the age of 17 to pursue a college degree. His parents, Samuel and Comfort Ola Akande, held a deep respect for and belief in the value of the American higher education system which served as an inspiration to Akande, whose professional success is motivated by the power of education to change lives.
Akande and his wife, Bola Taiwo-Akande, a pharmacist and entrepreneur, will relocate to Burlington in the summer. They have three adult daughters.