Africa U. asked to reconsider restructure
Bishops from the African continent have urged the leadership of United Methodist-related Africa University to reconsider the institution’s restructuring approved in 2016 that resulted in the Faculty of Theology being absorbed into the College of Social Sciences, Humanities, Theology and Education.
Munashe Furusa, Africa University vice-chancellor, explained that the move was necessary because enrollment in the faculty had dropped to 40 and was no longer viable to continue operating on its own.
The African College of Bishops discussed the change while attending a learning retreat at the university Sept. 3-9.
Faculties, the equivalent of a school or college at a university in the U.S., were reduced from seven to three.
“The university is not even the size of a college elsewhere in the world, and we had seven deans who were paid salaries and benefits befitting their position. Also, for an institution of our size, we had so many faculties that were not benefitting from the multi-disciplinary synergy that faculties can benefit from,” said Furusa.
Furusa said bringing faculties together would “tap into the synergy.”
“Change is painful. We have to help each other to bear the pain of change because change will come whether we like it or not,” Furusa said.
“We are very concerned about this development,” said Sierra Leone Bishop John K. Yambasu, president of the United Methodist Africa College of Bishops.
“Theology, education and agriculture were the founding faculties for this institution. No matter what innovations we decide to do, those core values must remain at Africa University,” he said.
Yambasu pointed out that the vision of Africa University was based on three principles —training clergy to grow church membership, educating teachers and training laity in food security to feed Africa’s growing population.
“Let there be other changes but theology must remain as a school or college with its own dean. The institution is now 25 years old and should be focusing on postgraduate degrees in theology, not competing with seminaries on the continent by offering undergraduate studies,” said Yambasu.
Africa University should “be the powerhouse or factory” where graduate-level students are produced, he said.
Furusa also told the bishops that a change in the Zimbabwe immigration policies has created problems for students from outside the country and caused their delay to start lectures this semester.
“We are currently engaged in dialogue with the chief immigration officer to map out a strategy to resolve issues which have resulted in students failing to return to Zimbabwe,” he said.
International students have also not been able to pay fees on time, he said.
“If the issues are not resolved, we may end up operating at 75 percent of our student population, resulting in a reduced budget,” said Furusa.
Chikwanah is a communicator of the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference. News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, email@example.com or 615-742-5470.
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