UMCSC’s James H. Salley named president/CEO of Africa University Inc.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—South Carolina’s James H. Salley has been named president and chief executive officer of Africa University (Tennessee) Inc., effective immediately.

The Africa University (Tennessee) Inc. Board of Directors, meeting in a virtual plenary Oct. 18, voted to create the position of president/CEO and name Salley to it as part of the ongoing evolution of governance within the United Methodist-related institution. The new role is in addition to Salley’s current responsibilities as associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement.

“We are thrilled to name Mr. Salley the first president/CEO of Africa University Inc., the U.S. organization that raises, holds and distributes funds for the benefit of Africa University,” said Board Chair Lisa Tichenor.

Africa University (Tennessee) Inc. is the oldest of three legal entities that comprise Africa University. It is a registered U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit created in 1988 to enable the birth of Africa University as part of the global mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church.

Two Zimbabwe-registered entities were subsequently added—Africa University (Zimbabwe), which delivers the teaching/learning, research and community outreach operations of the institution, and the Mutare United Methodist Educational Company, which holds title to Africa University’s physical assets in Zimbabwe such as land, buildings and other infrastructure.

Members of the board of directors serve on all three corporations.

“Mr. Salley’s record of leading the efforts to raise friends, funds and institutional stability and growth for AU is well documented,” said Indiana Bishop Julius C. Trimble. “The growth in enrollment of students and the expansion of buildings and partnerships is a reminder that with God all things are possible. This new role allows Mr. Salley to continue to cast the vision and open partnership windows for resources as he works with his Africa University Development Office (AUDO) team, the Vice Chancellor and leadership team of Africa University (Zimbabwe), and friends of Africa University across the globe.”

Known to many as “Mr. Africa University,” Salley was a member of the site selection committee that chose Old Mutare, Zimbabwe in 1988 as the future home of Africa University. He served on Africa University’s founding Board of Directors, representing the General Board of Global Ministries. In 1992, Salley left the AU Board and a senior institutional advancement role at South Carolina State University to become Africa University’s chief advancement officer. He established the Africa University Development Office, located within the headquarters of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville.

“The AUDO, managed by Mr. James H. Salley since 1992, has developed into a major organization requiring leadership of a CEO,” said Tichenor. “With over $100 million in endowed funds, it requires the structure and leadership to continue to build Africa University. As The United Methodist Church determines its course, Africa University will have a strong presence to ensure support for future African students.”

Bishop Mande Muyombo, a two-time graduate of Africa University, leads the North Katanga Episcopal Area and chairs the Africa University (Zimbabwe) Board of Directors. He highlighted Salley’s hard work and dedication.

“He has been the face of Africa University and has been preaching Africa University in the power of the Holy Spirit throughout the USA and the world,” said Muyombo. “To name Mr. Salley as president/CEO of Africa University (Tennessee) Inc. is a recognition of the growth of Africa University and its nearly 30 years of investing in Africa's future.”

A taskforce chaired by the general secretary of GBHEM, Rev. Greg Bergquist, is currently examining how Africa University and GBHEM will relate to each other and work together in the future. The taskforce is focused on governance and issues of sustainability and will report its findings and recommendations for board action in 2022.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño is vice chair of the Africa University (Zimbabwe) Board of Directors and chair of the Personnel Committee. She noted that the position of president/CEO of AU (Tennessee) Inc. was envisioned from the beginning of the planting of Africa University.

“This position will include a high level of oversight in the areas of development, finance, scholarship administration and audit,” said Carcaño.

“(It) creates an administrative structure that allows this critical work to be done more effectively and efficiently both in the US and in Zimbabwe. It is a sign of the maturing of AU and signifies a historic moment in which a significant step toward shared leadership and true partnership between AU Zimbabwe and AU Tennessee has been taken,” said Carcaño.

“Africa University is approaching its 30th anniversary in March 2022 and is ranked No. 1 in Zimbabwe and 39th among the top 200 universities in Africa,” said Salley. “There is growth in enrollment, internationalization and in the level of investment from indigenous Africans to Africa University, so we are moving towards sustainability. Africa University needs its friends and donors and the resources they provide for the work ahead. My message is ‘don’t leave us now, let’s finish the work that we have started for the benefit of the emerging leaders for the continent of Africa that are coming out of Africa University.’”

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