Staff, graduates, members of the university's Development Committee, bishops, and clergy and laity from across The United Methodist Church traveled to East Ohio to share the story of Africa University – and to plan for its future. "We are known as the school of dreams in the valley of hope," said Africa University Associate Vice Chancellor James Salley.
"Africa University began in 1992 with 42 students in some renovated farm buildings. [In Fall 2016] when classes began there were 1,400 students from 22 Sub-Saharan African countries registered on campus," said McFadden, who is national chairman of the Planned Giving Council.
"We have over 7,000 graduates, 92% of whom have remained in Africa which was one of our goals with the university," he continued.
"The East Ohio Conference has a long-standing commitment to supporting Africa University. We join with you in fulfilling the mission, our mission, of transforming lives and transforming Africa," Bishop Tracy S. Malone told the crowd during the 16th Annual Richard E. "Dick" Reeves Legacy Society recognition dinner.
"The work that your church and your conference is doing at Africa University gives hope and is helping to break the cycle of poverty," Vice Chancellor Dr. Munashe Furusa told the congregation at Westlake United Methodist Church.
At Brunswick United Methodist Church, Africa University graduate the Rev. Dr. Artemus Gaye thanked the denomination.
"The church became God's hands, and God's feet, and made it possible for me to go to school," he said.
The East Ohio Conference has been a part of Africa University from the very beginning.
"The conference built the first two three-story dormitories at Africa University, and we have the most endowed scholarships of any annual conference in Methodism," McFadden said. "The endowed value of scholarships for students at Africa University here in East Ohio exceeds $1. 8 million."
As the 25th anniversary of the university approaches, the board has its sight set on the future. The scholarship banquet concluded with the public announcement of the Campaign for Africa University, a four-year effort to raise $50 million.
"It is my hope that the campaign will make possible new facilities and buildings, scholarships and endowed chairs that will enhance the university's effectiveness in teaching and learning, research and innovation, and provide spaces for each student's interaction and engagement," Furusa said.
"I give thanks and praise to God of what can be accomplished when the people of God have a vision, have a commitment and have a passion for education, have a passion for excellence, and have a passion for transformation," Malone said.
*Rick Wolcott, director of Communications, East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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.