Highland Park Student Union Building officially handed over to Africa University
The 20th of July 2020 marked yet another momentous milestone in the history of Africa University as the Highland Park Student Union building was officially handed over to Africa University in a ceremony that not only celebrated the generosity of the Highland Park United Methodist Church that funded the project, but also allowed students and staff an opportunity to tour the eagerly awaited facility. Highland Park United Methodist Church were thanked for standing ready to answer the call to improve student welfare on the AU campus. The official handover of the SU Building comes after the Highland Park funded Women’s’ Hostel was officially opened during the February 2020 Board Meetings.
Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa in his opening remarks thanked AU Board Member Mrs Lisa Tichenor and the international collaboration between teams in the USA and Zimbabwe for the work done to bring the project to fruition and on schedule, especially in the face of socio- economic upheavals that have been experienced globally. He said, “We would like to thank Mrs Lisa Tichenor who was relentless in the pursuit of this vision and mission inviting myself and Associate Vice Chancellor Mr. Jim Salley to Dallas at the inception of this initiative to further this cause and share our vision of the university with her church. We are so fortunate to have friends and partners such as these who demonstrate unshakable faith and love for Africa University and its sacred mission of training morally and ethically grounded leaders for Africa. It is important to note the Highland Park United Methodist Church did not only provide funds but also experts in the form of Mr Marty Burnson who worked very closely with our local architects and construction teams.
Prof. Frurusa also expressed gratitude to Concrete Masters, the contractor engaged on the project, for working around the clock and remaining true to the project plan and timelines. He went on to highlight some of the stunning features that the building contains that shall enhance student life and become a hub of student centred events on campus. He said, “What we see before us today is a multi-purpose facility that boasts on the ground floor a spacious entertainment centre where our students may socialize, mingle and network. This place will become the epicentre of campus entertainment activities and bring another dimension to the cultural integration of our community. We also have a gym that shall cater to the holistic wellbeing of our students where they can nurture and build their bodies. The gymnasium is also fitted with on-site shower facilities. To serve our growing student body, we have extended shopping facilities with a ground floor tuck shop and upstairs mini market- The Acacia Dream Store, that will sell a variety of convenience goods. On the top floor, the student beauty salon has been fitted wherein we intend on installing state of the art equipment that will allow our students to access such services on campus, saving them valuable time and money. The Student Representative Council offices and Board Room are also located on the top floor where deliberations on student welfare and representation can be conducted in a professional and conducive environment.”
Speaking to the student body and emphasizing the importance of the Highland Park Student Union Building to the community, Prof. Furusa said, “Students of Africa University, know that this building has been built with love. Love for you, for the promise that each of you hold and for the Africa that you shall create. Do not take this gift lightly. Understand the great sacrifice that has been made by those who did not have much to give, but did so whole heartedly. Understand that of whom much is given, much is expected. You now have an obligation, a duty and a responsibility to them and to the University to honour this sacrifice. In receiving this building, you become stewards who are bound by a social contract engaged in good faith and trust to use this building for the purposes for which it has been built. To unify, to build and to develop. Let no ounce of negativity, alienation or exclusion disgrace this ground that should be welcoming and encourage each and every member of our community to reach their full potential. Let this be a safe space where sexism, tribalism, or discrimination of any kind is never given room to rear its ugly head. We believe that for you to become the best, you must have the best and here it is before you today.”
Representing the Student Representative Council, Vice President Mr. Fiston Okito expressed gratitude on behalf of the student community saying, ” We are so grateful for the funds that have seen the construction of this ultra- modern building that stands as one of the best in the country and region. We are so grateful to the Highland Park UMC for their love and faithfulness to the vision.”
In addition to the Highland Park Student Union Building handover, Africa University also commissioned into service two brand new locally assembled 65- seater UD Nissan Buses. The two additions to the University vehicle fleet shall bolster efficiency and mobility across the board.
Prof. Furusa said, “I am delighted to commission into service, two brand new UD Nissan Buses that have been assembled here in Zimbabwe. That these buses have been locally procured is of particular importance to us as Africa University as we contribute towards our economy in supporting local brands and local industry. Africa University strongly believes in reinvesting back into our community and the African economy, and we are proud to advance this initiative of positive and sustainable development in our nation and on our continent.”
The Highland Park Student Union Building and the newly acquired buses form part of the University’s strategy towards creating a world class university that offers services and facilities that are at par with the best on the continent and the globe. AU continues to lead among institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe and beyond especially in the areas of blended learning, enterprise development and innovation with many more exciting projects currently under development.