The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry mourns the passing of its friend, colleague and partner in higher education, Professor Munashe Furusa, vice chancellor of Africa University.
Furusa died in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 13 in Mutare, Zimbabwe after a brief illness. He was 59 years old.
“I was deeply saddened to learn of Professor Furusa’s passing,” said Rev. Greg Bergquist, general secretary of GBHEM. “He was an extraordinary champion for educational access and an important voice for United Methodist-related higher education. Our entire agency will miss his expertise and his friendship. We offer up our prayers for his family and friends and the entire Africa University community during this difficult time.”
Furusa joined Africa University as its fourth vice chancellor and oversaw an important period of transformation for the school. Under his guidance, Africa University adapted its seven teaching units into three colleges, a change that helped bring in major research grants for its faculty and students.
“Professor Furusa leaves a lasting legacy of service and excellence at Africa University and his death is a great loss for both the Church and the academy,” said Bishop William McAlilly, president of the GBHEM Board of Directors and bishop for the Nashville Episcopal Area. “As we mourn the passing of this great educator, I pray that we will also celebrate his life’s work by continuing to build bridges to higher education for students of all backgrounds, from all around the globe.”
While vice chancellor at Africa University, Furusa also served as the founding president of the African Association of Methodist Institutions of Higher Education (AAMIHE) and helped to design its constitution and structure. In this capacity, he represented African Methodist education worldwide, working closely with the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities (IAMSCU).
In addition to improving access to higher education for students across the continent of Africa, Furusa worked tirelessly to ensure that Africa University alumni found success and fulfillment after graduation as well. He built public-private partnerships that brought valuable internships and job opportunities for students and increased business enterprise at the university.
Furusa was committed to a student-centered approach to education that allowed students to dream, innovate and experiment in a world-class learning environment. As a first-generation college student himself, he had a deep understanding of the life-changing power of higher education. During his tenure, Africa University was ranked among the top universities in Zimbabwe and received numerous national and Pan-African awards for excellence in higher education.
In announcing his death and remembering his friend and colleague, Africa University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Mageto, wrote: “As we mourn a great leader who inspired, motivated, and moved all of us to become the best versions of ourselves, we cherish the memories, transformative work, and powerful moments that we were honored to share with him.”
Furusa is survived by his wife, Dr. Zanele Furusa, four children and two grandchildren. Africa University’s full statement is available here.