Editor's note: This story first appeared in the spring 2019 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concorida University Wisconsin.


Jacob Fynn values his Concordia education so much he’s working to bring a piece of it to the Ghanaian institution where he works.

The recently promoted chief operating officer of Wisconsin International University College-Ghana (WIUC-G) graduated from Concordia in 2010 with his MBA. During a return trip to CUW in 2015, he was connected with Assistant Vice President of International Affairs Dr. David Birner and began to discuss options for the growing Ghanaian institution.

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WIUC-G was on the cusp of starting a nursing program at the time, Fynn recalls. His hope was to simply gain insights into a model program. What resulted was something far more promising: a cross-continental connection that has paved the way for the development of curriculum and programs for WIUC-Gh and Concordia students alike.

The formation of this international “highway,” as Concordia’s Office of International Affairs calls it, complements a strategic effort of Concordia to expand the university’s global reach and open up even more partnerships of this kind throughout the world.

To Fynn, who completed his undergraduate degree in Ghana, the partnership makes perfect sense.

“I received really good training from Ghana, and then I came to Concordia and received equally good training but in a different manner that opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t have been able to experience in my home country,” he says. “My diverse educational experiences have molded me perfectly for the position I have now, and I’m excited to one day offer the same to other students.”

Never mind that Jacob “Jake” Fynn’s father is chancellor of the Ghanaian college where they work; Jake (’10) had to earn his way up.

The Concordia MBA graduate was announced last spring as chief operating officer of Wisconsin International University College-Ghana (WIUC-Gh). He says his Concordia education played a huge role in his promotion.

“I was nervous at first about returning to Ghana to work at the college because of the expectations everyone would have of me,” he admits. “But after a year of being there and working to gain people’s trust, I started to become the ‘go-to’ person. Honestly, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I was if I hadn’t spent the time that I did in the States.”

After graduation, Jake’s Concordia education helped him land a position at Menards’ corporate office, where he gained valuable managerial experience for three years before returning to Ghana to run marketing efforts at WIUC-Gh.

During a return trip to CUW in 2015, Jake was connected with Assistant Vice President of International Affairs Dr. David Birner and began to discuss options for the growing Ghanaian institution.

WIUC-Gh was on the cusp of starting a nursing program at the time, Jake recalls. His hope was to simply gain insights into a model program. What resulted was something far more promising: a cross-continental connection that has paved the way for the development of curriculum and programs for WIUC-Gh and Concordia students alike.

The formation of this international “highway,” as Concordia’s Office of International Affairs calls it, complements a strategic effort of Concordia to expand the university’s global reach and open up even more partnerships of this kind throughout the world. More partnerships can mean a more seamless exchange of professors, students, and resources, as well as more-robust academic offerings, says Birner.

Related: Concordia furthers partnership with respected Ghana university

To Jake, who completed his undergraduate degree in Ghana, the partnership makes perfect sense.

“I received really good training from Ghana, and then I came to Concordia and received equally good training but in a different manner that opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t have been able to experience in my home country,” he says. “My diverse educational experiences have molded me perfectly for the position I have now, and I’m excited to one day offer the same to other students.”

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In August 2018, Concordia and WIUC-Gh developed a comprehensive memorandum of understanding that brought them one step closer to a formalized partnership.

Prior to that even, CUAA’s Chief Simulation Specialist Ben Oliver traveled to Ghana in spring 2018 to help set up three state-of-the-art nursing simulators within the college, the first of their kind in Africa. A May 2018 unveiling ceremony was met with renown and even drew a distinguished guest, the First Lady of Ghana.

Concordia’s relationship with WIUC-Gh dates back to the late 1990s when Rev. Dr. R. John Buuck, retired president of Concordia University, worked closely with Jake’s father, Rev. Dr. Paul K. Fynn, to establish the college. The elder Fynn retired in 2018 from his longtime position as president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana but has remained on in his role as chancellor of WIUC-Gh.

Jake’s appreciation for his CUW experience has brought Concordia and WIUC-Gh full circle. His 2015 return to his alma mater reignited a collaboration that has been years in the making.

“In some ways it’s like I’m continuing the work my father started with Concordia,” Jake says. “I know what my Concordia experience did for me, and I want to be able to help provide the same for future WIUC-Gh students.”

The spring 2019 Concordian hit mailboxes the beginning of May. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 262-243-4333. 

— Kali Thiel is director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at kali.thiel@cuw.edu or 262-243-2149.

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