World Hope International and Houghton College have both presented an official Citation of Merit to Houghton College professor of political science, Dr. Ron Oakerson, for his work in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Oakerson is a former senior analyst for the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, and is a known authority on issues involving metropolitan governance. Published in 1999, his book on the subject is Governing Local Public Economies: Creating the Civic Metropolis.
“I am deeply grateful to Houghton College and World Hope International for the opportunity to work in Sierra Leone. It has been one of the highlights of my career,” commented Oakerson.
Dr. Oakerson has been taking groups of students yearly to Sierra Leone to participate in evaluating, creating, and implementing a village-based economic development program for subsistence farmers. Students who have worked with Dr. Oakerson inside the classroom or in the field have commented on the quality of his expertise.
Oakerson also said, “I began going to Sierra Leone to provide my students with valuable field experience, but along the way God gave us the privilege of making a real contribution to rural people through the mango project. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience for my students and for me. Thanks to the people of Sierra Leone for all that we have learned.”
The Citation from Houghton acknowledged the quality of his work, saying, “Since the civil war in Sierra Leone ended over a decade ago, the country has been attempting to rebuild their economy. Through the combined efforts of the technical expertise of Houghton students, Dr. Oakerson’s background in international development and World Hope’s understanding of rural farmers, a step toward this goal has been made.”
World Hope International’s Citation agreed: “Professor Oakerson has modeled the best of academic-practitioner collaboration, investing in and inspiring both Houghton College Students and World Hope staff. He has provided an enormous amount of professional expertise and engaged in personal mentoring sacrificially and with grace.”
“Celebrating Dr. Oakerson symbolizes so much of what Houghton is about — global engagement, collaborative research with students, building organizational partnerships — all made possible by a creative and dedicated faculty and a supportive Board of Trustees,” said Houghton College President Shirley Mullen.