When Claflin University announced its partnership with Africa University in March 2017, the agreement reaffirmed the University’s commitment to global engagement through its transformative academic programs and world-class faculty. The partnership is largely based on a faculty/student exchange program which is consistent with Claflin's vision to "develop a diverse and inclusive community of globally engaged visionary leaders."
Claflin administrators and Professor Peter Mageto, acting vice chancellor at Africa University, met in Orangeburg, S.C., recently to review the status of an exciting new component of their historic collaboration – Claflin’s plan to offer classes online to Africa University students who want to earn a Master of Science degree in biotechnology. The program is expected to begin in 2022.
“The master’s in biotechnology program will significantly enhance our historic partnership with Africa University,” said Claflin President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack. “A master’s degree in biotechnology will increase employment opportunities considerably for their students in the global workforce. The program also expands Claflin’s brand throughout the continent. This will help us recruit talented diverse scholars, faculty, and researchers from Africa and other countries.”
Mageto was appointed acting vice chancellor at Africa University in January 2021. He succeeded the university's fourth vice chancellor, Professor Munashe Furusa, who died suddenly during the same month. Mageto traveled to the United States to confirm the university’s fervent support for the master’s in biotechnology program.
“We see biotechnology as a program that will strengthen our relationship with Claflin,” said Mageto. “We also see this as an opportunity to develop an international program that will attract students from beyond our borders and impact how governments will begin to think about biotechnology and climate change.”
Africa University, located in Zimbabwe, is the first and only fully accredited institution of higher learning established on the African continent by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The General Conference unanimously approved the founding of Africa University in 1988.
The official groundbreaking ceremony was held in April 1991. In January 1992, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, issued the University Charter by official proclamation, making the institution the first recognized private university in Zimbabwe. Both Claflin and Africa University are affiliated with The United Methodist Church.
Although COVID-19 has interrupted the partnership's faculty/student exchange initiative, Africa University and Claflin administrators continued their strategic planning through virtual communications platforms. Much like colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Africa University’s academic programs transitioned to 100 percent online during the pandemic. The school’s proficiency in virtual instruction and its outstanding academic programs contributed to a dramatic increase in online enrollment. According to Mageto, enrollment grew from 2,400 to 3,000 students.
“We see ourselves as a learning, teaching, and research center that benefits tremendously from this partnership,” said Mageto. “Everyone is very excited about the M.S. in biotechnology program.The enrollment numbers will be shocking because the program is both historic and unique.”