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Africa University?s chief executive to step down

United Methodist-related Africa University
Rukudzo Murapa, vice chancellor of United Methodist-related Africa University, announced his retirement Oct. 10. Murapa has been vice chancellor at the Old Mutare, Zimbabwe school since 1998. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.

By Andra Stevens*
Oct. 24, 2007 | OLD MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)

Rukudzo Murapa is retiring as chief executive of Africa University after almost 10 years of leading the United Methodist-related school.

Murapa’s last day of work will be Dec. 31, and he will take a leave of absence until his retirement becomes effective on Feb. 29, 2008.

The vice chancellor said he would not seek to extend his contract when it ends next February. He shared the news with the executive committee of the Africa University Board of Directors at its Oct. 10 meeting in London.

The board will present its interim plan for the governance and operations of the university during its next meeting in late November. The plan will become effective Jan. 1.

Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo, who serves as chancellor and chairman of the board for the 1,300-student university, expressed gratitude for Murapa’s service and for developing a university “from which all African people can take pride.”

Ntambo said Murapa “has borne in his heart and proven through his efforts that he has a profound love for this university.” He called Murapa a man of vision.

“He must be thanked for his deep and sound sense of diplomacy, which has largely profited the university and which has helped to open up contacts with a diverse group of institutions, diplomatic missions, organizations, universities and non-governmental organizations worldwide,” said Ntambo.

 Rukudzo Murapa
Rukudzo Murapa

Growth and diversity

Africa University had only been in existence for six years when Murapa took over day-to-day leadership from the founding vice chancellor, John W. Z. Kurewa, in 1998. At the time, the university had four faculties, 41 faculty members and 600 students. Enrollment has since more than doubled, with a diverse student population from 26 African countries. Its reputation has spread based on its effectiveness at research, training and community engagement.

The growth has come despite economic challenges and political crises in Zimbabwe, which is plagued by food shortages, electrical outages, skyrocketing inflation and more than 80 percent unemployment. “Africa University is surviving, enduring and determined to succeed,” Murapa said in a recent interview with United Methodist News Service.

Murapa encouraged faculty and students to work at the community level to solve problems, improve quality of life and bring about sustainable development in Africa. Model initiatives include a broad-based collaboration with the United Movement to End Child Soldiering on rehabilitation, advocacy, support and education for former child soldiers and abductees in northern Uganda.

He also created the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance, the first of its kind in Africa. The institute’s curriculum relates issues of peace and development to the quality of governance systems and leadership performance in Africa.

‘Magnanimous leader’

“It takes a truly magnanimous leader to be able to do this,” said Grace Muradzikwa, who first knew Murapa as her professor at Africa University and now serves as secretary of the board. “His contributions in developing Africa University will be felt well into the next millennium.”

The Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, top executive at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, said Murapa “has made significant contributions that have established a strong foundation for the present and future development of Africa University.”

He said the board and its staff and the faculty, staff and students at Africa University look to build on Murapa’s accomplishments as the university changes leadership.

“I am strongly persuaded that the university’s continued development and sustainability will remain a high priority for The United Methodist Church as it extends its global commitment through higher education to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by developing leaders for the African continent,” del Pino said.

*Stevens is the director of public information and public affairs at Africa University.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Resources

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