Collaborative Approach Recognized

USF’s Ghana Scholars Program receives an award for its innovative initiatives from the Institute of International Education.

Researchers from the University of Ghana conduct a focus group in Accra, Ghana while working on a joint research project with USF professors exploring ways to assist in disaster recovery.


By Amanda Gilmer

USF World


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2013) – The University of South Florida’s Ghana Scholars Program has been recognized for its innovation in international higher education by the Institute of International Education.

 The Ghana Scholars Program, coordinated by USF World, brings faculty to USF from the University of Ghana and the University of Cape Coast to finish the writing of their dissertations.

Visiting Ghanaian faculty spend three to six months at USF completing their dissertations, engaging in scholarly activities and research collaborations with USF colleagues, participating in professional development and leadership training, and experiencing the culture at a major research-oriented university in the United States.

“The exposure and experience the scholars receive at USF proves invaluable at a critical stage in their academic careers while at the same time building academic capacity at their home institutions,” said Roger Brindley, associate vice president for Global Academic Programs.

The program encourages USF students and faculty to partner with the visiting scholars to enhance research collaboration. This year four former Ghana Scholars are engaged in multi-national research collaborations with USF faculty members.

Last October Kiki Caruson, assistant vice president of Research, Innovation and Global Affairs at USF, traveled to Africa to work with Ghanian scholar Jesse Sey Ayivor. They are exploring ways to assist in disaster recovery in the Volta Lake Region.

USF is one of 10 universities recognized by the institute in four categories: Internationalizing the Campus, Study Abroad, International Partnerships, and Internationalizing the Community College. USF was recognized in the International Partnerships category and received the Andrew Heiskell Honorable Mention Award.

This year’s recipients showcased international programs that serve as models for removing institutional barriers to global partnerships and broadening participation in international teaching and scholarship. More than 80 nominations were received.

The Ghana Scholars Program is a relatively new initiative but a markedly successful one. The first Ghanaian scholars arrived in 2009 and have all earned their doctoral degrees. Among the second cohort of six scholars, one scholar has received his degree, four have submitted their dissertations, and the remaining scholar will soon submit a completed dissertation for review.

“As we reflect on the successes of the previous Ghana Scholars, we look forward to future cohorts and still newer models for creating authentic, sustainable, and insightful university partnerships,” said USF Provost Ralph Wilcox.

Support for the program spans the campus as each scholar is paired with a USF faculty mentor in his or her field of study. Participating departments include Anthropology, Africana Studies, Economics, Geography, Government and International Affairs, Adult, Career and Higher Education, and Global Health. The support received from faculty mentors has led to research publications and involvement in academic conferences by the scholars.

The scholars have attributed their success to the support of their faculty mentors and The Research Administration Improvement Network (TRAIN®) team in the Office of Research and Innovation. The TRAIN® team, a group of knowledgeable USF research administrators with a mission to build and enhance the university’s research infrastructure, led multiple professional development workshops dedicated to building research skills. The team assisted the Ghana Scholars with topics including: utilizing the Library’s vast resources; identifying external funding sources; writing influential proposals; and creating sound budgets.

Wilcox and Karen Holbrook, senior vice president for Global Affairs & International Research, along with other Heiskell Award recipients, will present at the institute’s Best Practices Conference in March so that other institutions can learn from USF’s successful experience.

This recognition is one of two recent honors for USF World. USF was also recently named a finalist for the NAFSA Senator Paul Simon Award, which recognizes colleges and universities that are making significant, well-planned, well-executed, and well-documented progress toward comprehensive internationalization.

Read more about the Heiskell awards at

Amanda Gilmer can be reached at 813-974-5528.