Owalabi Committed to Adult Education

Owalabi committed to adult education

Although he was born on a cocoa farm in Nigeria and didn't attend school himself until he was 10 years old, Isaac Owolabi is helping hundreds of adults in this country earn their college degrees.


The UW-Stout graduate is associate dean of the School of Professional and Adult Studies at Montreat-Anderson College in Montreat, N.C. Before establishing the Montreat program last year, Owolabi headed the adult program at Marian College in Fond du Lac, Wis., for six years. Under his leadership, the growth of both programs has been outstanding.

At Marian, enrollment grew from 200 students to 1,300. In his first year at Montreat, he put together the curriculum, hired staff and then managed to attract 280 students to the program. Degree work is offered primarily to older students in Charlotte and Asheville who hold regular jobs during the day. By December 1995, Owolabi hopes to have 500 students enrolled and by 1998, 3,000.

Considering what he has accomplished since his arrival in this country in January 1983, his goal is realistic.

After encouragement and financial support from his paternal grandmother in Nigeria, Owolabi left the farm for school. He became a math and physics teacher. At Stout, he earned an undergraduate degree in marketing education in 1984 and a master's degree later that same year in vocational education.

With meager support from his family back in Africa, but with a wealth of encouragement from his friends here, Owolabi struck out for the University of Minnesota where he hoped to gain a doctorate in marketing education. He achieved that goal in 1987. After one year as an instructor at a Florida junior college, Owolabi took the position at Marian.

Owolabi is committed to adult education. "Most adults entering our program are doing it to remain competitive in their jobs. While the traditional student views higher education to be the next step in life, the adult student looks at a college degree as a marketable commodity."

Owolabi and his wife, Abigail, have four children. Not surprisingly, she has earned a degree in social work since joining him in this country in l985. Owolabi is a member of the UW-Stout Alumni Board.

Outlook Fall '95