Indiana United Methodists gave a major boost to Africa University's ongoing efforts to help African communities to achieve food security with the presentation of a gift of $1 million for an endowed chair of agriculture and natural resources at Africa University.
The gift continues a long conference tradition of major support for the institution. Bishop Michael J. Coyner described the Indiana Conference's support and appreciation for Africa University as "personal and special."
"In Indiana, we know about and celebrate the ministry of Africa University," said Coyner during the March 19th presentation ceremony at the university's main campus in Mutare, Zimbabwe, "and we appreciate the witness that you are here in Africa and to the world."
The conference launched the 3-year, $1.6 million Indiana-Africa University campaign in June 2013 with the goal of providing an endowment of $1 million for a professorship and $600,000 for endowed scholarships for agriculture students.
"Agriculture is an important part of our economy and our life in Indiana, so we are glad to share in this effort to provide financial support for a chair of agriculture," Coyner said.
The endowment presentation was held in conjunction with the inauguration ceremonies for the university's fourth vice chancellor, Munashe Furusa. Furusa thanked the conference for "a gift that will last as long as the university exists."
"One professor or chair can touch hundreds of lives through the courses they teach, the students they mentor, or through their own academic work. Having endowed faculty means students get to rub elbows with the most talented scholars in the world," Furusa said.
He also noted that endowed faculty can open up real world opportunities for students, such as work in research labs. "They not only learn from textbooks, but from a real world of innovation and discovery," Furusa said.
Under the leadership of Bishop Woodie White, now retired, the Indiana Conference funded the construction of four three-story dormitories on the Africa University campus. Each year, local congregations and the Indiana Friends of Africa University also provide significant scholarship support for students.
Adapted from an article by Skyler Nimmons, Indiana Conference communications director; and Vicki Brown, news editor for UMNS
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.