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AU Advisors Leave Baltimore "Energized"

Members of the Africa University Advisory Development Committee, (ADC), are describing the progress reports from their spring 2016 meeting as exciting and impressive.

The group, which includes United Methodist leaders from across the USA, met in Baltimore, Maryland on March 12. The university's advisors, friends and development staff traveled to Baltimore at the invitation of Bishop Marcus Matthews, the episcopal leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference and chairperson of the Africa University Advisory Development Committee and the Africa University Board Development Committee (BDC).

This was Bishop Matthews' first meeting with the advisory committee since he was appointed as the interim chairperson of the Africa University Board of Directors in mid-February. His first major action of the meeting was announcing the appointment of Dr. David Beckley, president of Rust College and one of the longest-serving college presidents in the United Methodist family of higher education institutions, to the serve on the AU Board and Advisory Development Committees.

"Dr. Beckley's expertise and insights will be invaluable to Africa University as its ministry evolves," said Bishop Matthews. "We have been trying to get him into this role for many years now, and we are extremely happy that in spite of his many commitments, he has accepted this appointment."

Rev. Dr. Cedric Bridgeforth.

Committee members celebrated the news that ongoing annual conference campaigns and other efforts in Baltimore-Washington, Illinois-Great Rivers, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina are yielding excellent results. These include scholarship endowment campaigns for Africa University that honor the leadership contributions of Bishop Marcus Matthews and Bishop Robert E. Hayes.

In addition to receiving updates on a wide range of initiatives to cultivate friends and raise funds for Africa University, members heard about campus developments and student and alumni contributions from the university's Vice Chancellor/CEO, Dr. Munashe Furusa.

"Hearing about the progress and about what Africa University graduates are doing makes this just an incredible experience to be a part of," said Mrs. Shirley Byers, an ADC member of long-standing and one of the driving forces behind the Upper New York Conference's ongoing scholarship endowment campaign for the university.

ADC members learned from Vice Chancellor Furusa that:

  • The Ubuntu Retreat Center campus facility funded by the WMI Conference has opened and is receiving great guest reviews.
  • The launching of a Faculty of Science and Technology is a major priority for Africa University as it responds to the increasing demand for STEM training (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in Africa.
  • Additional on-campus facilities, particularly for accommodation and recreation, are crucial to the university's plan to significantly increase the proportion of fee-paying students enrolled and have at least 60% of the enrollment coming from outside Zimbabwe by 2020.

"Every campaign in every conference is different, but every campaign is dedicated to the development of Africa University, whether in the form of facilities or academic support and scholarships for students," said Byers. "When we hear how people across the connection are involved in supporting and promoting what is happening at and through Africa University, we are revived and eager to get back out there and tell the story."

Andra M. Stevens, Director, Communications, 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.

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