AU MBA grad Abiy Ahmed receives Nobel Peace Prize

Paul Murray, Reporter

In 2012, Dr. Ray Jacobs and his wife attended a meeting on a medical mission in Ethiopia.

While there, Dr. Gemechis Buba, the President of Leadstar College, approached Dr. Jacobs and Ashland University and asked if they would be willing to partner with Leadstar to develop a new MBA program.

Jacobs and AU accepted. They provided Leadstar with program and curriculum design, instructional material, as well as personal feedback.

Jacobs has made numerous trips to Ethiopia, meeting with Leadstar staff and government officials while working to create a more informed and educated society.

In August 2015, Jacobs was asked to speak at the first-ever Leadstar graduation ceremony.

Leadstar’s motto is “Producing Transformative Global Leaders.” One of the inaugural classes would take this motto to heart. Amongst the graduates, in his cap and gown, was Abiy Ahmed.

At the time, Ahmed was a member of the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives, but would soon go on to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his work as Ethiopian Prime Minister.

“Prime minister Abiy Ahmed is an outstanding graduate and has more than lived up to their motto,” Jacobs said. “It was very exciting for me to hear that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize, he has done a phenomenal job.”

Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 11 for his work on peace and reconciliation with neighboring Eritrea.

Ethiopia and Eritrea had been at odds for almost 20 years, with more than 80,000 soldiers and civilians killed in the conflicts. The war forced many citizens of Ethiopia to the streets, protesting the former ruling government.

Ahmed took office amid the protest in early 2018 and immediately setup talks with Eritrean leader Isaias Afweki. Within a few weeks, the two signed a peace agreement that went into action in September 2018.

In his own country, Ahmed has granted amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, lifted the censorship on media, and has dismissed those in places of power who have been connected to corruption.

“Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future,” The Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
In a tweet after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Ahmed said, “I am humbled by the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. My deepest gratitude to all committed and working for peace. This award is for Ethiopia and the African continent. We shall prosper in peace!”
This rise of Ahmed has not been without strife. Within weeks of being elected, he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt during a rally. Many opposing political and ethnic groups have been very hostile toward Ahmed, but the prime minister keeps working to make changes.
Since receiving the award, the prime minister has continued to increase communication with Eritrea and the people of Ethiopia. Multiple visits have been made between governing officials who are working on reconnecting the two countries in trade.
“I am very proud of the role that Ashland University has played in assisting Leadstar in creating an MBA program that has had such a positive impact by educating many current and future leaders in Ethiopia,” Jacobs said.