When Art and Linda Youngman first visited the Africa University campus in 1995, the university was in its third year of operations; the renovated old farm buildings that once served as residence halls, administrative buildings, and classrooms had been replaced with a few permanent structures; and the acacia trees that had been planted across the campus were mere saplings. Art and Linda, both life-long Methodists, heard of the establishment of this new university while members of University United Methodist Church in Wichita and became more intrigued when they were given a lapel button encouraging support for the new institution.
Art was born and reared in Chicago, IL. He earned his B. S. degree from Montana State University, his Master's degree from Western Reserve University, and his doctorate from the University of Texas (Austin). He taught and conducted research in the areas of botany and ecology as a tenured professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Wichita State University (Wichita) for forty-two years before retiring in 2007. Linda was born and reared in Houston, TX. She earned her B. S. degree in elementary education with an emphasis in special education from the University of Texas (Austin). She taught for several years as a special education teacher and served as the pre-school program director and teacher at College Hill United Methodist Church (Wichita) for seventeen years. She retired in 2003 after having served as director of educational ministries at University United Methodist Church for nine years.
Art was among the first to be accepted into the visiting scholars program at Africa University. He took a sabbatical and spent the spring semester of the 1994-1995 academic year on the campus as a visiting professor in the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources teaching crop physiology and conducting field and laboratory research. Linda joined Art at the end of the semester, and they spent several days touring Zimbabwe.
Art returned to the campus in 2000 with a Volunteers in Mission team to build faculty housing and again in 2004 as a member of the Compassionate Consultation Initiative Project – Zimbabwe. He was amazed by the tremendous growth that had taken place since 1995! Students, faculty, and staff had nearly tripled in number; several more new buildings had been erected to replace the renovated farm dwellings; the number of faculties or schools had increased; and the acacia saplings had grown into beautiful mature trees. Although it has been many years since Art and Linda last visited the campus, not only have they kept abreast of the university's continuing development, but they have also been two of the university's strongest advocates in the Great Plains Annual Conference.
Art and Linda recently established the Art and Linda Youngman Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide a full annual scholarship for residents of the Fairfield Children's Home (Old Mutare Methodist Mission site) who wish to study at Africa University. For Art and Linda, Africa University is hope personified, not only for the young people at Fairfield Children's Home, but also for young people across the continent who thirst for a first-rate university education.
Elaine Jenkins, director of planned giving, Africa University Development Office
A World Service Special Gift is a designated financial contribution made by an individual, local church, organization, district or annual conference to a project authorized as such by the Connectional Table. Current World Service Special Gifts projects include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Leonard Perryman Communications Scholarship for Ethnic Minority Students, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.