Bishop is first AU grad to chair university's board

Bishop Mande Muyombo (front, right) presides over a meeting of the Africa University board of directors in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Mande is the first Africa University graduate to chair the board. Photo courtesy of Africa University.
Bishop Mande Muyombo (front, right) presides over a meeting of the Africa University board of directors in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Mande is the first Africa University graduate to chair the board. Photo courtesy of Africa University.

Bishop Mande Muyombo, already the first Africa University graduate elected as bishop, is now the first graduate to chair the school’s board of directors.

The 45-year-old North Katanga Area bishop is also the youngest-ever chair of the United Methodist university’s board of directors. He took over for retired Bishop Marcus Matthews during the board’s October meeting.

Mande said his appointment is an expression of the investment in mission from the global United Methodist Church.

“This is an expression of hope for the future. Here you have a young man who could not afford to go to school, but was trained through the dedication in mission by the church to invest in the future,” he said.

“It is a reminder that I am called to serve the next generation of leaders,” he said, expressing his gratitude to the AU staff and peers who journeyed with him.

Mande, who holds a bachelor’s in theology and master’s degree in Peace, Leadership and Governance, said he can testify the institution remains committed to its mission of investing in Africa’s future.

“The unity of the church, which is the gift of God, produced Africa University. This gift of unity should inspire our denomination to cherish it so that we can not only continue to invest in AU, but to invest in mission and continue to make disciples for the transformation of the world,” he said.

Mande said he wants Africa University to continue to be a beacon of hope and unity for the denomination.

“My vision is to move the university toward strengthening and sharpening its programs, its infrastructure and continue to draw it closer and closer to communities so that the challenges faced across Africa can inform our new way of developing Christian principled leaders through developing academic programs that will contribute to the betterment of those communities,” he said.

The bishop said he would also like to see the university help equip other United Methodist institutions of higher learning across Africa through developing capable staff for those schools.

Lisa Tichenor, an AU board member and member of Highland Park United Church in North Texas, first met Mande in 2008 when he was the student choir director.

The AU choir came to North Texas to help in a fundraising drive to raise $1 million for the university. Tichenor spent time with Mande and they became friends.

“He later came to visit with this family. I saw him more often when he joined Global Ministries and found out we had a very effective partnership,” Tichenor said.

“Six years ago, he named his daughter Lisa and I was very proud and honored,” she said. “I feel really energized by the opportunity now that we are both in leadership at AU. We want to support the institution and make it the school that God wants it to be.”

She said Mande’s appointment was “brilliant.”

“He is a person with connections throughout the world who knows how to get things done. He is very optimistic, positive and just creates an environment that encourages everyone around to join in the mission,” she said.

Africa University Vice Chancellor Munashe Furusa said it is a blessing for the university to have one of its own as a leader, noting that Mande was a leader at the institution as a student, too.

“AU trains and prepares morally and ethically grounded leaders for Africa and the world. Now we have somebody who has seen and experienced the life of this university from different perspectives, different angles and different positions,” Furusa said.

“He was here as a student, as a student leader, a member of the board, now he chairs that board. Africa University is part of his DNA, he received two degrees from this university,” Furusa said.

“I am convinced that he will provide able leadership. I have known him as a visionary leader and I look forward to working with him as we develop and build a world-class university at this university,” said Furusa.

Chikwanah is a communicator of the Zimbabwe East Conference. News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umnews.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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