|Africa University endowment reaches $44 million|
Bishop Ernest Lyght (right) leads the Africa University
Advisory Development Committee meeting Feb. 26 in Los Angeles. UMNS
photos by Linda Green.
By Linda Green*
March 6, 2008 | LOS ANGELES (UMNS)
The Rev. Kenneth Lutgen Jr. listens as Larry Powell
shares how the Desert Southwest Annual Conference has endowed a chair at
United Methodist churches and annual conferences increased their
giving to Africa University by 2 percent in 2007 and helped the Zimbabwe
school's endowment reach $44 million.
The 16-year-old university, though challenged by Zimbabwe's
astronomical inflation rate, is managing to cope with political and
economic crises, according to a report delivered Feb. 26 to the Africa
University Development Advisory Committee.
"Africa University is the hope of Africa when it comes to education,"
said West Virginia Bishop Ernest Lyght, committee chairperson. "Some
people in The United Methodist Church are uncomfortable talking about
money, but how can you be Methodist and not talk about money?"
The committee's primary task is to help the university's development
office and its board of directors raise "gifts of love" for the
pan-African, United Methodist-related school in Mutare. Africa
University is home to 1,400 students representing 26 countries.
Leaders say the university has managed to continue operating amidst
national chaos because the Zimbabwean government has not interfered with
school operations and because of generous giving to the school's
endowment. The $44 million endowment reached beyond the projected $40
million to be raised by 2012.
Local churches and annual conferences gave $2.3 million to the
university fund in 2007, a 2 percent increase over 2006, while local
churches, annual conferences and individuals provided $459,628 in
endowed scholarships to date for the 2007-2008 academic year. Another
$377,613 was raised for direct scholarships to students, which is
$100,000 more than the same period last year. Churches, conferences and
individuals also have launched campaigns for direct and endowed
scholarships, endowed chairs, dormitories, a student health clinic and
"The Africa University farm is our lifeline," said James Salley, the
school's associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement. "The
biggest consumer of our farm products is the university dining hall and
our students. The Lord knew that Zimbabwe would be where it is today, so
Africa University was founded in chicken coops and barns built on the
old farm of Old Mutare Mission. God knew and God prepared."
The committee gave special thanks to churches and annual conferences
in the Northeastern Jurisdiction for paying 100 percent or more of their
apportionment asking for Africa University in 2007. Two conferences
paid beyond their apportionment goal: West Virginia paid 129 percent and
New York paid 109 percent. For the first time, Eastern Pennsylvania
paid 100 percent of its apportionments, increasing its giving from 72
percent; Greater New Jersey increased from 88 to 100 percent; North
Central New York went from 79 to 100 percent; and New England increased
from 89 to 100 percent.
"This is the first time in recent years that an entire jurisdiction
has paid an apportionment at 100 percent on any of the apportionments,"
said Ken Sloane, director of communications ministry at United Methodist
Communications. "In spite of the challenges that the churches in the
(jurisdiction) face, Africa University continues to be a cause that
Not every annual conference in the Northeast jurisdiction was able to
pay 100 percent to the Africa University Fund, Sloane said, "but because
some conferences exceeded their 100 percent asking, the jurisdiction
can celebrate what they connectionally did together."
Bishop Marcus Matthews (from right), the Rev. Henry Masters, Jen Rooney and Angella Current-Felder listen to a presentation.
"We still believe that it is possible to have all jurisdictions give
100 percent of the apportionments to Africa University in 2008," Salley
said. "We will continue to press on in order to have Africa University
become the first fund of the church to reach 100 percent." In an effort
to increase online giving, the development office redesigned its Web site.
Stories of hope
During the meeting, committee members affirmed Africa University for
its work in offering hope and peace, changing lives, and serving as an
instrument of God to change the world. They were encouraged to share
these stories to help others in the church catch the school's vision.
Last December, the university appointed faculty member Fanuel Tagwira
as interim chief in the wake of Vice Chancellor Rukudzo Murapa's
retirement. Salley and Tagwira, the school's dean of the faculty of
agriculture and natural resources, have been working together to
shepherd the school in the areas of student life, academic support,
faculty and staff salaries and maintenance.
In other actions, committee members learned that:
- The Zimbabwe presidential election in scheduled for March 29;
- A search committee has begun its work to find a new vice chancellor for Africa University;
- A natural resources study has launched on campus;
- Artemus Gaye, a Liberian graduate of Africa University and
member of the development committee, was the subject of a Feb. 4 PBS
documentary called "Prince Among Slaves";
- The 15-member Africa University choir is scheduled to tour
the United States as part of the 2008 General Conference, the church's
top legislative meeting being held this spring in Fort Worth, Texas. The
choir will sing April 29 at General Conference and provide music at a
banquet honoring Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and then tour
the North Texas Conference for a week before departing for a May 11-19
tour of Germany;
- Africa University's satellite campus in Maputo, Mozambique,
will be dedicated March 31. The project is a collaborative effort with
the Methodist University of São Paulo, Brazil, and the United Methodist
Board of Higher Education and Ministry with funding from the Methodist
Global Education Fund for Leadership Development. Maputo is the first of
five planned satellite campuses for Africa University. Other proposed
sites are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire
and Sierra Leone.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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