MCCC’s new president, Kojo Quartey, seeks to expand student horizons.
“The world is our marketplace!” he said. “Let’s grow globally.”
Bringing a more multicultural focus to MCCC is just one of the many goals of the new president, who was unanimously hired by the MCCC Board of Trustees in May.
Dr. Quartey’s worldly ambitions may be attributed to his upbringing and travels in his time as a student and educator.
He was born in Ghana, West Africa, and lived there for 11 years.
His father was Ghana’s minister of foreign affairs; when Quartey was ten, the family moved to Washington D.C., where he spent most of his school years.
He finished high school in Ghana and returned to America at 19. He went on to earn his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Mississippi State University.
His most recent job was provost of the City Colleges of Chicago, where he was in charge of seven colleges.
This is not his first time in Michigan; he spent five years working as the dean of the business school at Davenport University in Grand Rapids.
Despite spending time in countries all over the world, he is no stranger to small town living. He spent 11 years working in Talladega, Alabama.
“I just love the small town atmosphere, where you get to know people,” he said. “The smaller a community is, the more of an impact one can make.”
“I thrive on community interaction,” he said.
This was something Quartey missed while in Chicago overseeing 120,000 students.
“There was no direct contact with students and faculty,” he said.
Quartey said this semester he likely will be seen walking around campus, interacting with everyone he can. In his first few weeks on campus, he has made the effort to meet one-on-one with faculty members.
“What we want to do here is not only to change this institution, but to really impact the entire community and take this community to the next level,” he said.
Something Quartey hopes to accomplish in his time here is to get students to think globally in terms of success. He hopes that incorporating more multicultural studies and opportunities will give students an advantage.
“Your competition is going to be global,” he said. “If you really want to compete against the world, you want to expand your cultural horizons,”
He also encourages students to learn a second language – he himself speaks four languages.
Quartey hopes to reach students internationally by partnering with global companies here in town. He hopes to bring more diversity to the school in order for the community to better reflect the world.
He also understands that students today face a plethora of challenges when it comes to their education. He advises them to keep an optimistic view of their future.
“You invest a little in your future for a greater return,” he said.
Times have certainly changed since Quartey was a college student – advances in technology are an obvious example. For the most part, technology is an advantage, he said. But in some instances, it’s hurting us.
“It’s helping because we have all the information at our fingertips. But there is a reliance on technology, that’s how it’s hurting us.” he said. “The other way it’s hurting us is in my day you really needed to know how to spell and write. It’s dumbing our kids down.”
Despite his qualms about technology, he is ultimately a fan and has big plans for the campus’s new Career Technology Center.
“I’m thinking about new academic programs we could have in there: wind energy and engineering, auto-tech, hybrids and electric cars – that’s the next level of technology,” he said.
“That’s where the world is going.”
Sitting on his desk among family pictures is his “education box” – a prop he uses when encouraging kids that education is the answer.
Its contents include a medicine bottle, a key, and a map, each symbolizing a way in which education is the answer.
“Education cures poverty; it has done it for me. The key to success is education; it can open so many doors for you,” he said.
“This is a roadmap to prosperity; education can take you to a place called prosperity.”