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Africa University graduates its largest class (UM News)

June 21, 2023

Africa University graduated its largest class to date on June 10 and celebrated several firsts for the United Methodist university. 

More than 950 students from 19 countries received degrees during the university’s 29th graduation ceremony. This year, Africa University’s largest group of women ever graduated, with over 60% constituting the class of 2023. 

In other firsts, Collins Prempeh from Ghana, the first Deaf student from the Institute of Theology and Religious Studies, graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. In addition, the first doctoral cohort of six received Ph.D.s in Peace and Governance from the College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance. 

Welcoming graduates, families, friends, stakeholders and partners to the milestone occasion was the Rev. Peter Mageto, vice chancellor and professor. He applauded the hard work and determination of the class of 2023 and detailed the myriad developments occurring at the university. 

“We are proud of your accomplishments as your academic journey called for your resolve and determination to make it here,” Mageto said. “We are grateful to God for the successes we have recorded since our 30th anniversary with the launch of new programs and, most notably, our newest school, the School of Law. We have managed to offer over $2 million in scholarships and financial aid. We are grateful to the board of directors as this allows us to make higher education more accessible.”

He also expressed thanks to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization and the Government of Japan for sponsoring the Masters in Intellectual Property Program. “Today,” Mageto continued, “we graduate our 15th cohort. We have just signed an extension of the Master’s in Intellectual Property for a further five years, showing our commitment to the creation of IP experts for Africa.” 

He highlighted infrastructure developments on campus. The East Ohio Women’s Hostel is under construction with completion set for later this year. Spearheaded by Bishop Tracy Smith Malone and the East Ohio Conference’s Teach, Reach, Bless Campaign, the hostel will provide access for more women to reside on campus, enriching student success. 

Guest of honor and keynote speaker was Professor Theresa Nkuo-Akenji, board chair, Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, and vice chancellor, University of Bamenda Bambili, Cameroon. 

While observing that AU’s growing female student population reflects its intentional determination to uplift more African women, Akenji also pointed to the challenges of women’s access to higher education, business and the corporate sector.

“It has been brought to my attention,” she said, “that this is the largest class of graduating women in a single cohort. Well done, my sisters. It is important to note, however, that the struggle for a world of equal opportunity for women is still ongoing. A significant proportion of the continent’s population is made up of women. Yet, women do not occupy a similar portfolio of responsibilities … in public, private or civil sectors of our economy. This trend starts from education where, owing to a range of challenges, the girl child is more likely to drop out of school than the male child. 

“At Africa University,” Akenji added, “the student population is 52% female. This is a laudable effort to shift the paradigm, demonstrating Africa University’s commitment to the global movement toward equitable and inclusive opportunities for all, including women and those living with disabilities. On this, I salute you Mr. Vice Chancellor.”

Akenji also encouraged the graduating class to seed their talents and skills within their communities, not to shy away from hard work and to keep making history, not only for themselves but for their families and nations as well.

Honorable Professor Dr. Amon Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, was represented by Permanent Secretary Professor Fanuel Tagwira. A vice chancellor emeritus of AU, Tagwira urged the university to continue leading from the front.

“As a Pan-African institution,” he said, “Africa University must provide leadership in dealing with continental challenges. You are leaders in peace and governance, public sector management, eradication of malaria and training in intellectual property. Africa University must help develop skills that are desperately needed on the continent in entrepreneurship, geographic information systems and remote sensing, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and others.” Tagwira said he and his ministry would render support wherever needed.

The 2023 graduating class hailed from Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.