Theo alumnus creates college in native Ghana to address country’s need for an educated workforce

An epiphany set the course of Charles Aye-Addo’s life as a scholar, minister, educator and now – after earning his PhD in Theology at Drew this year– founder of a higher education institute in his homeland of Ghana.

While in high school, Aye-Addo G’02, T’08, T’11 heard a preacher at a Christian conference recite a verse from The Book of Ezra: “For Ezra has set his heart to study the Word of the Lord and to practice and to teach…’’

“Those words pierced into my heart. I knew it was my calling into the ministry,’’ said Aye-Addo, now 49.

Aye-Addo became a teacher of math and science and pastor with the International Central Gospel Church. But a yearning to deepen his understanding of God and the world led him a world away, to Drew, in 2001. Selected as a Distinguished International Scholar, Aye-Addo earned two master’s degrees in addition to his PhD in Theology.

Aye-Addo got the idea for his Yeshua Institute of Technology while attending Drew. He had moved with his family to Worcester, Mass. in 2003 to work as a senior pastor while commuting once a week to the Madison campus.

Aye-Addo home-schooled his two younger children, who quickly finished their high school curriculum and enrolled in community college. “I realized I could take the community college model to Ghana,’’ he said. “There is a significant number of high school graduates who want to go to college but cannot because there aren’t enough schools.’’

Yeshua, a private Christian nonprofit, will open its doors in February with about 300 students pursuing four-year degrees, but Aye-Addo expects enrollment to reach 1,200 within a year.  Ten years out, Aye-Addo envisions Yeshua as a university with five campuses throughout the country serving as many as 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. Aye-Addo is grateful to Drew, which has donated 6,000 books and library shelving to Yeshua.

Yeshua will teach applied sciences and develop students’ entrepreneurial skills.  “A lot of young people lack direction. I want to train youth to channel their ideas and bring them to reality,’’ Aye-Addo said. He is working with a provost who has helped start two other colleges in Ghana.

As an oil exporter, Ghana is seeing its economy soar, increasing the need for an educated, skilled workforce. Beyond high school graduates, Yeshua will also cater to working people by offering evening and weekend programs, Aye-Addo said.–Margaret McHugh.

Dr. Aye-Addo’s dissertation, “Akan Christology,” will be published in spring 2012 by both Pickwick Publications and Wipf and Stock Publishers.