Photo courtesy of Felix Azameti

John Atta Mills, the president of Ghana since 2009, passed away on July 24, 2012. He was 68 years old. Mills came to Stanford Law School in 1971 and spent a year on campus as a Fulbright Scholar enrolled in the LLM program. Previously, he had studied law at the University of Ghana, Legon, and then in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies where he earned a doctorate.

After studying at Stanford Law, he took a 
lecturer position at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, Legon. He spent nearly 25 years teaching. He then turned to government service, first as acting commissioner of Ghana’s Internal Revenue Service in 1986 and 1993 and then as substantive commissioner from 1993 to 1996. In addition to serving as president of Ghana, Mills held the position of vice president of Ghana and member of the Ghana Stock Exchange Council and the Management Committee of Commonwealth Administration of Tax Experts. And as president, Mills oversaw the start of large-scale oil production in Ghana in December 2010.

Born in Tarkwa in the west of Ghana, he was a keen sportsman and played for the Ghana national hockey team.

Mills met with President Barack Obama during his visit to sub-Saharan Africa in 2009.

“President Mills tirelessly worked to improve the lives of the Ghanaian people,” President Obama said in a statement. “He helped promote economic growth in Ghana in the midst of challenging global circumstances and strengthened Ghana’s strong tradition of democracy.”