The Webster University community extends sympathy to the family, friends, and colleagues of Tom Oates, who died last weekend.
First joining Webster in 1972, Oates was founding director of the media and journalism undergraduate degree program in what became Webster’s School of Communications. He later returned to Webster in 2012 to become the inaugural director of the Ghana campus.
Oates helped welcome the first cohort of graduate students to the campus in Accra, Ghana, during the spring term of 2014. He was instrumental in the successful effort to obtain accreditation for the university to commence operations through the National Accreditation Board (NAB) of Ghana (2013-2016) and set up the first campus located near the U.S. Embassy in the neighborhood of Cantonments, Accra.
He was passionate about international education and was committed to Webster's mission. He dedicated his last years to the Ghana Campus and to providing high quality U.S. education to students on the African continent and beyond. He also worked on other important international initiatives under the direction of Peter Maher, associate vice president of International Campuses & Initiatives.
His colleagues at Webster Ghana shared memories after his passing. In a statement shared with staff, students and faculty, campus director Christa Sanders said: “I deeply admired Dr. Oates and learned so much from him during our brief but wonderful professional and personal relationship. He was extremely supportive and encouraging to me as well as countless others. I remain speechless over the news of his passing but feel so fortunate to have known him and worked together to develop Webster’s first global campus in Sub-Saharan Africa."
Leonard Suransky, head of the International Relations Department on the Ghana Campus, noted that “Thomas Oates was the pioneer and founding father of the Ghana campus and he will always be remembered for that. Tom was the one who hunted me down in Cape Town and brought me to Ghana.”
Esther Foli, administrative assistant at the Ghana Campus, worked directly with Oates during his tenure as director. "His selfless leadership style was admirable and he will forever be missed.”