Peter Mageto Elected Vice Chancellor of Africa University


An exhaustive, global search process that generated interest from more than 3,000 people in Africa, North America and Europe culminated in the election of the Rev. Dr. Peter Mageto to lead Africa University as its fifth vice chancellor.

Bishop Mande Muyombo, North Katanga Episcopal Area, announced the election by the Africa University Zimbabwe Board of Directors on March 22. Mageto, a Kenyan, is the first non-Zimbabwean to lead Africa University, a pan-African, United Methodist-related institution with its main campus located at Old Mutare, Zimbabwe. He brings to AU 12 years of university-management experience and 31 years of ministry.

Mageto, the former deputy vice chancellor at AU, has served as interim vice chancellor since the sudden death of Professor Munashe Furusa in January 2021. An accomplished academic in the study of ethics and leadership, Mageto captures his vision and grounding philosophy in four words: our people, our values. 

Responding to the board’s decision, Mageto promised that academic excellence, innovation, accountability and institutional advancement would undergird Africa University’s fourth decade of continental impact.

“I am humbled by the confidence that the AU Board of Directors has shown in appointing me as the fifth vice chancellor,” Mageto said. “I am convinced that God has privileged me to offer servant leadership characterized by the truth, transparency and integrity in his project, Africa University, for a purpose. I accept this appointment as a vocation with humility and gratitude. I will do my best to take AU to greater heights in the education sector.”

The search for a vice chancellor, led by Muyombo, who chairs the Africa University Zimbabwe Board, garnered 63 applicants, including 30 from sub-Saharan countries. The review process produced a shortlist of 12 for in-depth assessment and three highly qualified candidates for interviews.

Muyombo said he does not take for granted Mageto’s decision to accept the role of vice chancellor.

“As we prepare to host formal events in October to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Africa University,” he said, “the election of Professor Mageto is a blessing from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I congratulate Professor Mageto and Mrs. Mageto, who joined her husband here today, for this pivotal and history-making moment.”

West Angola Area Bishop Gaspar Domingos, the chancellor of Africa University, said the choice of a new leader was of crucial importance for the future of the institution.

“This is a moment of renewal and new expectations that affirm the presence of hope in the life of a university,” Domingos said.

Professor Fanuel Tagwira, a vice chancellor emeritus of Africa University, pledged support for Mageto in his new role. Tagwira currently serves as the permanent secretary of the Zimbabwe Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.

“In interacting with Professor Mageto,” he said, “we have found him to be a true pan-Africanist and a man of ideas. Professor Mageto’s gifts fit well with the mandate of Africa University, and we, as government, are ready to work with him to take Africa University to a new level.”

James Salley, president and chief executive office of Africa University (Tennessee) Inc., which raises, holds, invests and disburses resources to advance the university’s ministry, thanked students, faculty, staff, trustees, partners, friends and alumni for their strong engagement in the search process.

“We are now truly living into our mission as a pan-African university,” said Salley. “Here is an example of the institution doing what it said it would do: nurture principled Christian leaders for Africa and the world and equip Africans to do for themselves.”

Accolades poured in from students, faculty and church leaders.

Representing the AU Students Representative Council, Shannel Ziki served on the search committee. She described Mageto as “the perfect leader for the position. His vision, plan and strategy,” she said, “give us hope for a better, improved, world-class university. Congratulations, Makorokoto, Amhlope, Hongera!”

“This is an exciting moment for Africa University,” added AU faculty member Jennifer Muzamhindo, also part of the search committee. “Professor Mageto is perfectly placed to further the academic and civic mission of the university as it moves into the future with confidence and optimism.”

The Rev. Greg Bergquist, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, believes Mageto will “provide transformative leadership now and into the future. In this liminal season of the church and the academy, he provides the clarity of purpose and agility of leadership practice that will allow him to navigate the university during these uncertain times, while fully embracing the adaptive opportunities that arise during times of significant change.”

AU Tennessee Board chair Lisa Tichenor expressed confidence that Mageto would “strengthen our pan- African footprint in developing AU’s ethical and moral leadership throughout the continent of Africa in new and creative ways that will be a bright light in the United Methodist Church’s commitment to higher education in the years ahead.”

Mageto holds two degrees from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois, USA: a Doctor of Philosophy in theological ethics and a Master of Theological Studies. He earned a postgraduate certificate in African studies at Northwestern University, Chicago, USA. His Bachelor of Divinity degree was awarded by St. Paul’s United Theological College in Kenya.

Prior to joining Africa University, Mageto served as vice chancellor and professor of ethics at the University of Kigali, Rwanda. His previous experience includes the roles of adjunct assistant professor at the University of Evansville, Indiana, USA; head of department, acting dean and associate professor of ethics at Daystar University, Nairobi, Kenya; and deputy vice chancellor of academic affairs and student welfare, associate professor of ethics and acting vice chancellor at Kenya Methodist University.

His civic and professional engagement includes membership and service through Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research, Africa Society of Evangelical Theology, International Association for Education in Ethics, Society of Christian Ethics, American Society of Missiology, treasurer of the Africa Society of Evangelical Theology, and chairman of the Ecumenical Symposium of Eastern African Theologians.

“During my tenure,” Mageto said, “the higher education of the future will be the hallmark of Africa University as we train leaders for the transformation of Zimbabwe and Africa. We will continue to nurture Christian values upon which AU is founded, and cherish the peaceful environment made possible by the government of Zimbabwe to bring out the best in our people.”

Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, episcopal leader of the Zimbabwe East and Zimbabwe West annual conferences, recalled the ministry of Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell (1842-1928). An American missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Hartzell and British mining magnate and politician Cecil John Rhodes signed an agreement to develop a mission on the future site of Africa University.

“In 1916,” Nhiwatiwa said, “Bishop Hartzell preached what became his last sermon at Old Mutare Mission. He focused on the verse, ‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ The bishop is reported to have emphasized that future generations shall be happy with what we have done.  

“It is so humbling to know that we are part of that future generation,” Nhiwatiwa continued. “God bless Africa University.”


Africa University is a Pan-African higher education ministry of The United Methodist Church. The university opened in 1992 with 40 students from six African countries. It now has an annual enrollment of more than 3,000 students representing as many as 30 of Africa’s 55 nations. Degree programs as well as short courses are offered in three colleges: Health, Agriculture & Natural Sciences; Business, Peace, Leadership & Governance; and Social Sciences, Humanities, Theology and Education. More than 90 percent of Africa University’s 10,000+ alumni have remained on the continent of Africa. Graduates are in leadership roles in more than 32 African countries as well as in countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America. The university’s main campus is located near Mutare, in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe.

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Media contact:

Andra Stevens, Director of Communications

Africa University Development Office

Tel: (615) 340-7438