As Africa University approaches its 25th anniversary, delegates to the 2016 General Conference took a few moments Monday afternoon to celebrate one of the denomination's high points.
With an enrollment of more than 1,500 full-time students and 800 part-time students, Africa University, located in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe, today boasts more than 6,100 graduates from 32 African countries. More than half of the students (53 percent) are female — more than double other universities throughout Africa.
“We are proud of our students and our graduates,” said Munashe Furusa, vice chancellor of Africa University. “If you want to judge a university, look at its graduates.”
Furusa highlighted how graduates are in key leadership roles in the church, government, the business sector and civil society throughout Africa. Through its graduates, AU has evolved into the cornerstone institution for United Methodist-related efforts on the continent of Africa, and is a crucial feeder system for human capital to nurture a new generation of leaders and transform communities.”
Furusa said that the church’s investment in Africa University has produced excellent results. Continuing that investment means The United Methodist Church will produce a growing number of effective disciples and tangible positive change.
“We have been – and will continue to be – good stewards of your faithful giving,” he said.
The church’s investment goes into scholarships for students — especially for orphans and females — who are hardworking and socially-engaged but have no way to pay for a university education on their own, Furusa said.
Other changes in the school’s future include IT and distance-learning capacity to reach more students; expert faculty, research and teaching resources; and more housing and recreation facilities on campus to continue to enhance the quality of student life.
As the Africa University choir ended the report by bringing a General Conference to its feet, delegates were reminded of the power and potential of a school that, just 36 years ago, was merely a vision.
“The university matters because a relevant and holistic education generates a living legacy that changes everything,” Furusa said. “You and The United Methodist Church have answered a call to witness through this transforming ministry. It should not be abandoned while it is still growing and striving to reach its full potential.”
Alsgaard is editor of the UMConnection, a publication of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference.