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Africa University must build leadership, agency exec says

4/9/2002 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

NOTE: A feature photograph and a head-and-shoulders photo of the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino are available at http://umns.org/photos/headshots.html. Two sidebars, UMNS stories #146 and #147, also may be used with this report. *Hughes, a staff member of United Methodist Communications, is Africa University's interim director of information.

By Celinda J. Hughes*

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - Africa University's biggest challenge in the new century is to strengthen its leadership, according to the top executive of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

The Rev. Jerome King Del Pino pledged his agency's support during remarks to the Africa University Board of Directors during its April 3-4 meeting. The school is based in Mutare.

"Our task as a Board of Higher Education and Ministry is to care for and do all that is prudent and bold," Del Pino said, "to ensure that all of our institutions of higher learning that are integral to nurturing leadership for the church and the world are focused in mission, strong in infrastructure and effective in their management. This is especially the case for Africa University."

He also emphasized the importance of his agency and other stakeholders working to strengthen the partnerships that were responsible for the birth of Africa University 10 years ago.

"There are no big I's or little you's around this table," he said. "I am deeply convicted that we are all committed to responding creatively, boldly and faithfully to the challenges that confront us at this stage of the journey."

Del Pino also said the Board of Higher Education and Africa University must:
Not succumb to the notion that mission follows money. "It never has and it never will in any enterprise that is born of faith in a living God of history."
Ensure that in all its actions, the board takes seriously "the present realities" while not blurring the university's commitment to bold and sustainable growth and development.
Hold fast to the vision that Africa University is different, and constantly critique and define that difference.
Work to ensure that Africa University is effectively represented at the 2004 General Conference, the United Methodist Church's top lawmaking assembly.

He also said the board and university administration must work together by:
Having a nonnegotiable balanced budget policy.
Establishing and maintaining a budgeting process that is driven by income and not expenses.
Having a clean auditing process.
Establishing an infrastructure that will provide support for aggressive pan-African student recruitment.
Filling and maintaining the most effective office of information within the family of United Methodist-related schools.

While the board focused on its future, it also took time to celebrate its history. On the first day of the meeting, the directors as well as other visitors joined the students, faculty and staff for the launch of Africa University's 10th anniversary observances. Events will be held throughout the year, culminating in a Nov. 16 celebration.

Three of the visitors attending the launch were John and Diedre Hepburn of Bennettsville, S.C., and Bettie Jones Smith of Lexington, S.C. The launch was significant for Diedre Hepburn because her parents were the university's major benefactors. "When my mother was alive, Africa University was her heart. Naturally it was and remains my father's heart. Since our visit, Africa University is our heart also," she said.

Hepburn is the daughter of Jonas and the late Odette Miller Kennedy. The Kennedys provided the first major gift of $100,000 to the school in 1991, helping launch a $10 million endowment fund campaign. Later, the Kennedys gave money to build the first dormitory, dedicated in December 1996, and they endowed several scholarships.

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