Lawyer, Educator and AU Benefactor, Kent M. Weeks, Dies at 82

Bold undertakings arise from vision and necessity, but they require strategy and structure to succeed. Dr. Kent McCuskey Weeks knew that well. An attorney and educator who specialized in Higher Education law and governance, Weeks was the architect who took the idea of a United Methodist-related university for all of Africa and gave it substance.

“I came to know him through his awesome love of Africa University and its sacred mission of training leaders for Africa,” said Africa University Vice Chancellor Munashe Furusa.

Weeks, who died on July 30 in Nashville, Tennessee, crafted the legal blueprint and guided the creation of the legal entities that make up Africa University today. He went on to serve as general counsel for Africa University for more than 20 years.

Weeks also drafted legislation—with the late Knox Munjoma and Tinoziva Bere, Africa University’s current Zimbabwe-based legal counsel—that was passed by the Parliament of Zimbabwe, creating the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education. Prior to that law, only public universities were permitted in Zimbabwe.

“We will always remember Dr. Weeks for his invaluable legal expertise…for being a great negotiator who played a pivotal role in negotiating with the Zimbabwean government for the Africa University Charter, and for his visionary work in establishing the governance structures of the university,” Furusa said. 

“He brought unique gifts and his expertise, experience and background proved invaluable as we worked to blend the African, American and British traditions into an effective new university for Africa,” said the Rev. Dr. Roger Ireson, former general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM).

When Ireson took over leadership of GBHEM in 1988, Weeks was a consultant to the agency’s Division of Higher Education.

“His dedicated commitment for the Africa University Project was far beyond what we could imagine,” said Dr. Kenjiro Yamada, who worked closely with Weeks as the former head of the GBHEM Division of Higher Education.

At the official opening of the Jokomo Yamada Library, Weeks was honored with the naming of the Kent Weeks History and Archives Hall.Weeks was a major donor to Africa University, investing in the university’s endowment fund and in an ongoing project to document and preserve the history of The United Methodist Church in Africa. In 2001, his contributions were recognized with the naming of the Kent M. Weeks History and Archives Hall within the Jokomo Yamada Library at Africa University.

“Kent was a trailblazer in higher education from a global perspective, an intellect and scholar who came across as a regular guy,” said Africa University Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement, James Salley.

Dr. Kent Weeks and Mrs. Karen Weeks accepting the Drum Award from Board member Patricia Madondo in September 2014.“I met him in 1983 when, as a director serving on the General Board of Global Ministries, I was sent to be part of an effort by the GBHEM to establish a higher education institution on the continent of Africa,” said Salley. “After leaving South Carolina State University to take up the role of chief advancement officer for Africa University, I contacted the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) to ask about a model for what we were proposing to do in Zimbabwe. CASE told me that what we were attempting to do had never been done before, but there was one person who could assist and named Kent Weeks.”

Weeks is a member of the Richard E. (Dick) Reeves Legacy Society. In 2014, Weeks received Africa University’s highest honor—the Drum Award. The following year, he and his wife, Karen H. Weeks, established an endowed scholarship fund at Africa University to support at least one student annually in perpetuity.

Attorney Tinoziva Bere described his colleague Weeks as “a great thinker, skilled expert, patient, rigorous in planning, meticulous in execution, doggedly persistent and attentive to every detail.”

Beyond their formidable professional collaboration, the two men shared a longstanding mentor/mentee relationship.

“I speak not just as a colleague but as a beneficiary of his great mentoring and teaching skills,” said Bere. “When I met Kent, I had great potential and zeal, but was young and inexperienced. He demanded of me and obtained out of me my very best. Later, he seemed to enjoy letting me plan and lead as my own expertise gained root. He positively inspired me professionally and personally.”

Weeks began his career in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio in 1964 and built a legacy through his teaching, writing, legal practice and community engagement. In 1967, he joined the College of Wooster (Wooster, OH) as an assistant professor of political science. He later became professor and dean at the University of Dubuque, IA. Weeks moved to Nashville in 1975, became a partner in the firm of Weeks, Anderson and Baker in 1977, and eventually joined the faculty of the George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University as professor of education. He taught Higher Education law and public policy at the college for 25 years.

Weeks was a prolific writer and authored several books. His most recent was, “In Search of Civility: Confronting Incivility on the College Campus.”

In addition to his professional work, Weeks had a passion for the outdoors and was an avid cyclist and hiker who summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Kent Weeks is survived by his wife, Karen H. Weeks, three children, Kevin M. Weeks (Cyndy Burns Weeks), Barton Weeks, and Kristen Weeks Neal (Gregory E. Neal) and six grandchildren.

The family held a private celebration of life event on Zoom on Tuesday, August 4. To send condolences to the family electronically, email Ms. Kris Weeks Neal at

Memorial gifts honoring Kent M. Weeks may be sent to the Africa University Development Office, PO Box 34007 TN 37203 or made electronically at Gifts may also be made to Nashville Public Education Foundation: 1207 18th Ave, S, #202, Nashville, TN 37212 (; or to the charity of your choice.