First director of Ghana campus Tom Oates died, memorial mass planned


Webster University’s first director of the Ghana campus Tom Oates died Friday, October 6.  

Oates joined the Webster community in 1972 as one of the founding directors of the media and journalism undergraduate program. This later became the School of Communication.  Oates returned to Webster in 2012 as the inaugural director of the Ghana campus.

As the director of the Ghana campus, Oates welcomed the first students to campus in Spring 2014.  He also helped the campus receive its accreditation from the National Accreditation Board (NAB) of Ghana as well as initiated the first campus near the U.S. Embassy in Accra.  

Oates was known for his passion for international education and bringing high quality education to students in Africa, according to a Webster News release.       

Leonard Suransky worked with Oates at the Ghana campus. Suransky is the head of the International Relations Department in Ghana and said Oates traveled across the African continent to bring him back to Ghana to teach.  

“Thomas Oates was the pioneer and founding father of the Ghana campus and he will always be remembered for that,” Suransky said. “Tom was the one who hunted me down in Cape Town and brought me to Ghana.”  

Current Ghana campus director Christa Sanders and administrative assistant Esther Foli remembered Oates as a supportive and selfless leader.  

A memorial mass is scheduled for Thursday, October 12 at 5:15 p.m. in the lower chapel of St. Francis Xavier Church with a reception to follow. The family requested memorials be sent to scholarship programs at Saint Louis University and Webster University, instead of flowers.    

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