Grambling State University strengthened its international footprint Thursday as President Rick Gallot and Dr. Kingsley Agyemang, Registrar of the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat, signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will bring students from Ghana for graduate studies at GSU.
The initial cohort of students from Ghana will come to study in Grambling State’s graduate program in sports administration.
The relationship was established by trips to Ghana by GSU professor Dr. Aaron Livingston and a group of sports administration students. Their trips in recent years to the West African country promoted education, sports, and cultural enrichment by becoming heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of youth sport camps as well as organization and administration of coaching seminars.
“We’ve taken Grambling State students to Ghana three times over the past three years,” Livingston said. “But this has been longer than that in the making. I’ve been to Ghana five times working on these agreements. And I’m actually going over there next month for a recruiting event.”
Livingston said that he hopes the first cohort of students from Ghana will begin studies at the start of Grambling State’s 2024 spring semester.
“The number of students depends on how my recruiting event goes,” Livingston said. “If I can get three to five students coming over here in the spring, that will help give me a measuring stick of how we need to approach the program. But that would be a good number to start with. Everybody wants the American brand for sports because it’s one of the most profitable industries in the world.”
Livingston said the Sports Administration graduate program at GSU is designed to take three-and-a-half years to complete.
“It just depends on how a student matriculates through the program,” Livingston said. “It’s a 39-hour program.”
Gallot expressed his pride in adding Ghana to the list of foreign countries that have students attending GSU.
“One of the things we (Gallot and Agyemang) talked about on our walk over from Grambling Hall (to the President’s Conference Room in Long Jones Hall) is that our student population is really reflective of the entire globe,” Gallot said. “When we look at our population from this past year, we had students from 37 states and 27 foreign countries.”
GSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Connie Walton said she believes the goals of Grambling State and universities from Grambling align well for the success of the agreement.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Walton said addressing the Ghana representatives before the signing of the MOU. “Dr, Livingston has been working on this particular partnership for some time. When I reviewed the mission statement (of the Ghana Board of Trustees), it really was in line with the mission of Grambling State University. You indicate that you really were established to address the qualities in education. Grambling State University was founded for that reason as well.”
She said she was also pleased with the way the agreement is set up and worded.
“The details of the MOU are really concrete,” Walton said. “They spell out exactly what’s going to happen. The students will apply to Grambling State University, and you will review those applications and so will Grambling State University, and both will be responsible for being part of the selection process.”
Walton said that once the students from Ghana are at Grambling State, GSU will keep officials from Ghana updated on the progress of the students and their level of achievement before the Ghana officials will decide if the scholarships for those students will continue or not.
Agyemang said getting to visit the campus made him feel even stronger about the agreement.
“I felt like I’m walking on a campus in Ghana. I see the connection, the attachment, and it gives me great confidence about the partnership,” Agyemang said. “Our country is very focused on education. We have more than 10,000 scholars globally and are very much excited about this MOU here.”
He also said he hopes the agreement will help serve the needs of universities in his country.
“We are committed to this MOU because our universities are in need of teachers with educations from other countries and I am confident Grambling State University will be a part of making that happen,” Agyemang said.
Livingston said he is also working with other countries in hopes of developing MOUs for student exchanges.
“I’m working with the University of Taipei and we’re also doing some work with Athens, Greece, right now trying to establish relationships there,” Livingston said. “All of this work is already showing benefits. I got a call last week from a university in Nigeria.”
Livingston also expressed his gratitude to Healthy Life Global, a nonprofit organization headed by Nikiel Winston, who earned her Master’s in Sports Administration at GSU, which emphasizes leadership, cultural education, health, and sport enrichment impacting thousands of children.
“That’s been a major partnership,” Livingston said of help received from Healthy Life Global. “They were the reason we were able to get our footprint in Ghana.”
As Gallot finished his welcome before the actual signing of the MOU, he stressed the students from Ghana will be part of the “GramFam” and that he has high hopes for the agreement’s success.
“When we think about our university motto — ‘The place where everybody is somebody’ — we want you to know and feel confident that any of your students who come here to study will be seen as a part of our Grambling family,” Gallot said. “We will certainly value and appreciate this relationship and look forward to reciprocating with our own visits to Ghana. Thank you, everybody, for the energy, the partnership, and for the sense of family and I certainly look forward to this program growing beyond any of our wildest dreams.”