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Morgan State University Welcomes International Business Executive and University Chancellor Sir Samuel Esson Jonah to Keynote the 147th Spring Commencement Office of the President

Morgan State University Welcomes International Business Executive and University Chancellor Sir Samuel Esson Jonah to Keynote the 147th Spring Commencement

by Morgan State U
April 25, 2024

Celebrated Morgan Alumna and NASA Scientist Valerie Thomas to Receive Honorary Doctor of Science Degree


BALTIMORE — Morgan State University President David K. Wilson announced today the selection of Sir Samuel Esson Jonah, chancellor of the University of Cape Coast Ghana and executive chairman of Jonah Capital, to serve as keynote speaker at the university’s 147th Spring Commencement. Ranked among the world’s most influential businesspeople, Sir Jonah is recognized throughout the continent of Africa and internationally for his business acumen and advising heads of state. Sir Jonah will deliver remarks to graduates, faculty, administrators, and guests at the annual spring exercises scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 18, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at Hughes Memorial Stadium on the University’s campus.

“Sir Samuel Jonah is one the world’s most respected and acclaimed leaders, a titan of business whose legacy resonates across continents, and we’re honored to have him address our spring graduates,” said President Wilson. “Sir Jonah’s remarkable journey, from the helm of multinational corporations to his advisory roles with global leaders, epitomizes the spirit of excellence, leadership, integrity and innovation that we seek to instill in our graduates. His presence as the commencement speaker will serve as a beacon of inspiration for our students as they embark on their own paths of leadership and service to society.”

As the current chancellor of the University of Cape Coast Ghana, Sir Jonah has amassed an accomplished career spanning higher education governance and the highest echelons of world industry and business. Sir Jonah is a former Member of the Board of Ashesi University in Ghana, a visiting professor of Business at the University of Witwatersrand Business School of Johannesburg, and a member of its Governing Council. He is also a trustee of the U.K.-based Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust.

Sir Jonah cemented his success in the business world as CEO of Ashanti Goldfields Company Limited, spearheading its advancement from a one-mine operation to a multinational excavation and extraction company. Under Sir Jonah’s leadership, Ashanti became the first operating African corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange 

Building on his success as executive president of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd, Sir Jonah expanded the breadth of his executive leadership to a diverse number of international enterprises, including chairman of Equinox Limited (Australia and Canada), Moto Gold Mines (Australia and Canada), Uramin (United Kingdom and Canada), Bayport Financial Services (Mauritius), and Vodafone (United Kingdom). He was also a member of the Advisory Council of the President of the African Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). In 2004, CNN and Time Magazine lauded him as one of the world’s “Top 25 Most Influential Businesspeople.” Sir Jonah received international recognition for successfully establishing global management, ethics, marketing, and innovation standards. Two years later, he was awarded Ghana’s highest national award, the Companion of the Order of the Star.

Sir Samuel JonahHe has received numerous awards and honors, chief among them being conferred an Honorary Knighthood as Knight Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. He is also the recipient of five lifetime achievement awards, the most recent of which was awarded in 2019 by the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, and several honorary doctoral degrees for humanities and sciences from institutions in Africa and the United Kingdom.

Sir Jonah’s impressive credentials are punctuated by appointments to The United Nations Secretary General’s Global Compact Advisory Council, The African Regional Advisory Board of the London Business School, the Governing Body of the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a trusteeship at the Camborne School of Mines. Additionally, his advice to heads of state extended to South Africa, Nigeria, Togo and Ghana.

Sir Samuel E. Jonah earned an Associateship in Mining Engineering at the Camborne School of Mines and a Master of Science in Mine Management at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. Recognizing his distinguished contribution to engineering, he was also elected a Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences (Engineering Division).

In addition to conferring degrees to the newly minted Class of 2024 Morgan graduates, Morgan will bestow two honorary degrees: one to the commencement keynote speaker, Sir Samuel Jonah, and the other to famed Morgan State alumna Valerie Thomas (class of 1964). Both will receive honorary “Doctor of Science” degrees at the 147th Spring Commencement Ceremonies.

Renown for her accomplishments as a NASA scientist and inventor of the foundational technology widely used and adapted for 3D imaging in applications ranging from surgery to the production of television and video screens, Valerie Thomas honed her interests in electronics, mathematics, physics and the intricacies of research at Morgan State.

Thomas catapulted her name into the annals of great American scientists and inventors after receiving her bachelor’s degree in physics at Morgan and embarking on a 30-year career at NASA.  During her tenure at NASA, Thomas managed the development of the image-processing systems for Landsat, the first satellite to send images to the Earth from space. In 1980, Thomas was awarded a patent for an illusion transmitter, a device that produces optical illusion images via two concave mirrors. NASA used this technology, which became seminal in producing 3D imaging adapted to surgical medicine and video screens.

To Thomas’s credit, her contributions to modern technology are vast. From her initial position at NASA as a data analyst/mathematician to being a Project Manager of the Space Physics Analysis Network and Associate Chief of the Space Science Data Operations Office, Thomas has left an indelible mark on the study of space. She helped to develop computer program designs that supported research on Halley’s Comet, the ozone layer, and satellite technology. Thomas received several NASA awards for her achievements, including the Goddard Space Flight Center Award of Merit and the NASA Equal Opportunity Medal.

Morgan will host its Graduate School Spring Commencement on Thursday, May 16, and its undergraduate Spring Commencement on May 18. For more information about Morgan’s Spring Commencement Exercises visit the official commencement site online.

About Morgan State University 

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 150 academic degree and certificate programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit

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Media Contacts:

Dell Jackson or Cheryl Stewart, for University PR