he growing membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the continent of Africa has brought tremendous challenges in leadership needs and nurturing capacity at various levels of the church. These challenges led to the establishment of the Adventist University of Africa (AUA), an institution of higher learning offering postgraduate degrees for all Africa. AUA, situated near Nairobi, has extension campuses at Solusi University in Zimbabwe and Helderberg College in South Africa for the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID); the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, for the East-Central Africa Division (ECD); and Babcock University and Valley View University for the West-Central Africa Division (WAD).
The groundbreaking ceremony for the first university building was held September 13, 2005. Attending the function were Gerry Karst, a general vice president of the General Conference; George Saitoti, then Kenya’s minister of education; Paul Ratsara and Geoffrey Mbwana, presidents of SID and ECD, respectively; and other government and church representatives.
In January 2006 AUA began offering two Master of Arts programs in Pastoral Theology and Leadership, with a total enrollment of 238 students. History was made January 25, 2006, when AUA pioneer students with professors and church officials met at Solusi University for an inauguration ceremony. Subsequent inauguration ceremonies for the other two African divisions were held at Babcock University and the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton.
A key factor in the success of a university in Africa is government recognition. This was achieved May 9, 2008, when AUA was granted a letter of interim authority (LIA) by the Kenya Commission for Higher Education (CHE). With the LIA, AUA is recognized by the government of Kenya as a postgraduate university authorized to grant recognized degrees, diplomas, and certificates.
A rendering of how AUA's new library will look once completed
General Conference president, Jan Paulsen, participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of AUA’s Phase II development project August 24, 2008. More faculty houses and student apartments have been constructed, paving the way for resident programs. A university library, which is part of the project, is under construction.
The firstfruits of AUA were realized when the university conferred degrees upon 166 graduates in colorful graduation ceremonies held at Babcock University for the WAD students July 26, 2009, and at the Central Campus for the SID and ECD students August 9, 2009. A new cohort started in February 2010 at Helderberg College for the SID. New cohorts for WAD began in May 2010, with the ECD slated for July.
Today, AUA graduates are making a remarkable impact in leadership, administration, and pastoral ministry. AUA is also preparing to expand its programs for both the Theological Seminary and the School of Postgraduate Studies.
We thank God for His leading. AUA is making an impact on the church in Africa and continues to grow. We appreciate the support of church leaders at all levels. And by God’s grace, AUA will live up to its mission of preparing graduates for competent and committed leadership for Africa.
This article was published June 24, 2010.