From rural Ghana in West Africa to Central Oregon, Charles Abasa-Nyarko, newly hired Vice President for Instruction, brings his unique experiences to Central Oregon Community College.
Charles Abasa-Nyarko became the new Vice President for Instruction at COCC on July 1 following a nationwide search to replace Karin Hilgersom, who filled the position from July 2010 through Feb 2013.
As VP of Instruction, Abasa-Nyarko will hire faculty, promote academic programs, and decide on the instruction budgets.
Abasa-Nyarko brings over 25 years of experience in higher education to COCC, including teaching, consulting, and administration. Twelve of those years were spent at the community college level.
“I like the smaller class sizes,” Abasa-Nyarko said, “You can interact more with your students.”
Abasa-Nyarko will be working with an executive team including the president, VP for Administration, dean of students, and the public relations officer, to promote student success.
“The number one focus is students, students, students,” Abasa-Nyarko said. “We are here because of the students.”
President of COCC, James Middleton, who was part of the hiring process, said Abasa-Nyarko’s past experiences matched well with what would be expected of him at COCC.
“The VP for Instruction is in charge of faculty hiring, promotion of all of the academic programs, facilities, equipment, and budgeting relative to delivery of instruction,” Middleton said. “We were pleased to see that he had experience in doing the same responsibilities at other institutions.”
Abasa-Nyarko grew up in the Volta region of Ghana, Africa, a rural forested area in the southeast part of the country.
“We had no electricity or running water,” Abasa-Nyarko said, and with few vehicles in his village there was “a lot of walking.”
The oldest of 11 children, Abasa-Nyarko was the first in his family to attend high school, which was forty miles from his village.
“Being the oldest, everything was invested in me,” Abasa-Nyarko said.
After high school, Abasa-Nyarko earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the University of Ghana. He then taught 3 years in Nigeria, saving money to come to America, where he earned his doctorate in international studies. He has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years, and is married with 3 children, all of whom are college graduates.
The new position brings him to the west coast for the first time in his professional career.
“Everyone has been very welcoming,” Abasa-Nyarko said. “It’s a good place to live, and a good place to work.”