Africa University leader reflects on first year on the job

Vice Chancellor Munashe Furusa has been at the helm of Africa University affairs for 14 months.

Furusa spoke to Tafadzwa Mudambanuki and Kathy L. Gilbert about the university's challenges, hopes, plans and vision. These are the highlights of the interview.

After a year on the ground, what do you consider the major needs of Africa University?

Our focus as a university is to improve the quality of student life. We are focusing on enhancing and increasing our solid infrastructure — particularly accommodations and the sports facilities. In addition, we have identified our needs in terms of increasing our halls of residence and we are focusing on that. We have halls of residence that accommodate about 900 students.

What new programs are you proposing? Are any changes planned for awarding scholarships?

We have reconstituted the scholarship and financial aid committee. Students are required to apply for scholarships and this committee considers their applications. We are emphasizing transparency and responsibility for the resources that we receive from donors and partners. We have criteria that include merits and need.

Africa University is structured in such a way that it benefits every part of the African continent that wants to participate. I think this is a model that allows us to maintain our diversity and our pan-African nature.

What have you done to help Africa University in terms of forging partnerships that will sustain your programs?

As vice chancellor, I work very closely with our development office to cultivate partners, to nurture those we already have. We are developing a new strategic plan that will involve business and church leaders in helping us to share that strategic plan and include all our stakeholders as we develop a new strategic plan. We have already scheduled meetings where we will solicit various input from business, church leaders and the community members. It is a process that makes people develop ownership of the university and want to be partners with us.

Have budgetary issues been resolved?

Budgets are both living entities and an ongoing process. What I can tell you is that we are prudent stewards of all the resources that we receive…. We have committees that look at that in a very transparent manner. We are very accountable and responsible in the way that we use our resources. For our budget, we have internal auditors that look at every aspect and they will bring outside professional auditors as well.

What is the most positive thing you've discovered since you went to AU?

Africa University is a great university with great students, great staff and great partners who are committed to walk this journey with us. It is a vibrant space for intellectual and community engagement.

Anything you want to share with friends of Africa University?

I want to thank our partners, our donors, The United Methodist Church for their labor of love with this university. I just want to let people know that their investment of prayers and gifts is yielding great results. We are transforming Africa and investing in Africa's future one life at a time and one community at a time.

Adapted, Tafadzwa W. Mudambanuki, central conference content coordinator UMCom and Kathy L. Gilbert, multimedia reporter, UMNS

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.