Rwandan President Paul Kagame Visits Stetson School of Business and Economics, Announces New Mercer On Mission Initiative


ATLANTA – Mercer University's Stetson School of Business and Economics began a yearlong celebration of its 30th anniversary by welcoming President of the Republic of Rwanda Paul Kagame to the University's Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta on Friday.

“We were thrilled to be able to host President Kagame on our Atlanta campus so we could learn more about the economic landscape of Rwanda,” said Dr. Susan Perles Gilbert, dean of the School. “At the Stetson School of Business and Economics, we deliver a global executive MBA program, and those students and faculty heard firsthand how the policies of this president have helped to build and strengthen a middle class in a country we knew only for its devastating civil wars.”

President Kagame visited for an invitation-only reception in the Trustees Dining Room, where he was interviewed by Ed Baker, publisher of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and then took questions from the audience.

Born in 1957 in Rwanda's Southern Province, President Kagame and his family fled pre-independence ethnic persecution and violence in 1960, crossing into Uganda where he spent 30 years as a refugee. He returned to Rwanda in 1990 as a senior military officer for the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which began a four-year struggle to liberate the country from the autocratic and divisive order established since Rwandan independence in 1962.

After serving terms as vice president and minister for defense in the Government of National Unity and as chairman of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, he took the oath of office as president of the Republic in 2000. Three years later, he won the first-ever democratic election in Rwanda, and he was reelected to a second seven-year term in 2010.

Currently chair of the United Nations Secretary General's Advisory Group on Millennium Development Goals and co-chair of the International Telecommunication Union's Broadband Commission, President Kagame is recognized for his leadership in peace-building and reconciliation, development, good governance, promotion of human rights and women's empowerment, and the advancement of education and information and communications technology.

This event not only served to fulfill the School's mission of delivering career-focused business education to develop entrepreneurial leaders and responsible global citizens, but also to announce the University's latest Mercer On Mission service initiative, which will take place in Rwanda.

The three-week blend of study abroad and service-learning will combine study of Rwanda's history and culture with exploration of the nation's cultural and natural reserves. Dr. Etienne Musonera, associate professor of marketing and a native of Rwanda, and Dr. Gerry Mills, graduate program director and lecturer in health management, will lead students as they work with two organizations: AVEGA-Agahozo (the Association of the Genocide Widows of Rwanda) and Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village.

AVEGA-Agahozo was founded in 1995 to bring hope to genocide widows and work for progress, empowerment and improving economic conditions for these women through four types of projects: psychological and medical care; justice and advocacy; economics and social operations; and institutional capacity building.

Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, founded in 2008, is a 144-acre residential community that is home to 500 youths who were orphaned during and after the genocide. The ultimate goal of the village is to equip young people who have lived through great trauma to become healthy, self-sufficient and engaged in the rebuilding of their nation, while also teaching the principle of serving the community, both locally and globally.

Mercer On Mission service projects will include teaching entrepreneurship skills in the small towns and rural markets of Rwanda, as well as hands-on volunteer work, such as landscaping, farming and food preparation.

Mercer On Mission began by sending 38 students to service sites in Brazil, Guatemala and Kenya in 2007. This past summer, in the eighth year of the program, the University sent 117 students to 10 sites across the globe.

About the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics

Established in 1984, Mercer University's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history. Over the past 80 years, Mercer has granted over 12,000 business degrees, and many of its graduates hold senior leadership positions in companies around the world. Mercer's business school delivers career-focused business education programs and develops entrepreneurial leaders and responsible global citizens. It holds accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which places it among the top five percent of all top business schools worldwide. Mercer's business school has been recognized by the Princeton Review as No. 3 for “Greatest Opportunity for Women” and one of its “Best Business Schools.” In addition, it has been recognized among the “Top 15 Schools in the Nation for Marketing and Accounting.”

The School offers the following programs: Atlanta (Evening BBA, Full-Time MBA, Flexible MBA, Executive MBA, Virtual Professional MBA, Master of Accountancy, M.S. in Business Analytics), Macon (Traditional BBA and Evening MBA), Savannah (Virtual PMBA), Douglas County and Henry County (Evening BBA).

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​