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Partnerships, increasing endowment critical for Africa University

 


Partnerships, increasing endowment critical for Africa University

March 16, 2005

By Linda Green*

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (UMNS)—Africa University’s fund-raising committee is focusing on forging new partnerships and finding fresh ways to financially assist the United Methodist-related school in Zimbabwe.

Members of the Africa University Development Committee met March 15 to brainstorm ways to finance capital projects at the university, increase its endowment and help the school become a self-sufficient international and ecumenical institution.

The committee also discussed “fresh ways to tell Africa University’s story” through United Methodist Communications, in consultation with the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the university’s development office, according to its chairman.

“When people hear the Africa University story, they will be moved by the story to support the educational enterprise called Africa University,” said Bishop Ernest Lyght of West Virginia.

The university’s endowment is at $25.5 million, with at least $60 million needed for sustainability. Committee members noted the critical need for United Methodist congregations to pay 100 percent of their apportionments by 2008 to address the university’s daily operational needs. United Methodist Communications is developing new ways to educate people about the school’s accomplishments.
 
“The focus we have as a development committee is to find ways to raise the university’s endowment fund to a higher level,” Lyght said. “Africa University is not yet self-sufficient, and the reality is that no university is self-sufficient, but they are funded better than we are.” he said.  “It is a reminder to the United Methodist Church that Africa University needs its help if it is going to continue.”

Lyght said he hopes the United Methodist Church will always realize that “Africa University is a jewel on the continent of Africa.”

Churches and annual conferences have supported the university by providing scholarships and dormitories and through other mission-oriented projects. The committee applauded two endowed projects under way from the Greater New Jersey and Mississippi annual conferences to support the university’s newest discipline, the Faculty of Health Sciences. A group of nurses in Northern Virginia will take the concept of parish nursing to the university in August to promote the link between theology and health sciences.

The Rev. Lloyd Rollins, a staff member of the university’s development office, has worked to cultivate support in African-American United Methodist churches.

African-American United Methodists in Mississippi and Louisiana will bring capital campaign proposals to their annual conference sessions this spring and summer—Louisiana churches for $850,000 and Mississippi churches for $1 million for capital projects and the university’s HIV/AIDs initiative.

“Although there has been support of the university from African Americans, the proposed campaigns are the result of the leadership that has emerged from these conferences,” Rollins said. “This is the first time this segment of the conference populations has stepped out in leading a major missional effort.”

Developing partnerships is another goal of the development committee, which heard overtures from Marsden First United Methodist Church on the island of Bermuda. The Rev. Joseph Whalen, pastor of the 105-member church, discussed forging a partnership among Africa University, the church and the island. He proposed a cross-cultural immersion experience with a Marsden delegation traveling to Africa University in 2006 for a mission project and tour of the region and continued scholarship support for a student.

“We thought that we could also support the university in some way,” Whalen said, as he presented an undisclosed check to Africa university officials for scholarship support.

“A partnership with Marsden First United Methodist Church and the island of Bermuda would be an extension of our ministry to the United Methodist Church in the world,” said James Salley, Africa University’s vice chancellor for institutional advancement.  “It is an opportunity to be connected locally with a United Methodist church and have that church open doors with citizens, corporations and multinational agencies in another community.”

In other action, committee members learned:

  • Of a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded project between Africa University and Clemson (S.C.) University to research areas of pest management and explore possibilities to link public health and agriculture.
  • The partnership among Africa University, Methodist Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., is ongoing, and two leading St. Jude immunologists working to develop an HIV vaccine ended a four-week assignment in February teaching health sciences at the university.
  • Construction of a building to house the university’s Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance has been delayed until May or June.
  • Growth in the student population will require new facilities such as dormitories, classrooms and a student-dining hall, as well as increasing faculty and staff.
  • The university will introduce a diploma in public health, and a four-year degree program in health sciences in being prepared.
  • Distance education programs are being developed and the university is working with colleges, universities and churchwide agencies to get the programs under way.

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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