19 May 2020  |

Dr. Pearson S. Mnkeni was recently introduced to the faculty and students at the University of Arusha as the new administrator of the Adventist university that serves Tanzania. He was introduced by Pastor Godwin Lekundayo, president of the denomination’s Northern Tanzania Union Conference and chair of the university board. Using local terminology, Lekundayo is “Chancellor” of the university and Mnkeni is “Vice Chancellor.”

The university is currently not holding classes, awaiting a government decision to end the quarantine made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, it has not attempted to provide classes online.

Mnkeni has a PhD in soil science from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, as well as a degree in agriculture from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. He was a faculty member at Sokoine University from 1976 to 1997, when he joined the faculty of Fort Hare University in South Africa, where he worked until he retired in 2018. While there, he was awarded many research grants and wrote more than 90 books and articles. He was recognized with a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award in 1997.

Mnkeni currently lives with his wife, Dr. Astereda Mnkeni, in Arusha. He spent the last couple of years starting the Department of Science and Technology at the university. He is also an adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology.

Lekundayo said, “We have gathered to thank our former vice chancellor and introduce the new one. … To have a professor [in this role] was the guideline from Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU). … We have asked Prof. Pearson Stephano Mnkeni to help us, … the right and experienced person in the field for many years and retired. I urge lecturers and workers to … join his efforts and cooperate with him to make him happy and for him to see a conducive working environment, because we all know there is a lot to work out in this university.”

Mnkeni expressed thanks for the opportunity, saying, “I am retired. I was supposed to rest, but I view this opportunity as a call from our Heavenly Father, I believe, because this is our God`s institution; it’s a safe place to work in harmony creating its future.”

Lekundayo also thanked Dr. Mashmauri Mjema for taking the leadership of the university for the past year. Mjema is the union conference education director. He said a word of thanks to the university staff: “I thank you for your cooperation. Please offer to Prof. Mnkeni the same cooperation you offered me. … We will keep seeing each other because I will continue my responsibilities … at the union conference.”

The University of Arusha offers a number of programs at the undergraduate and Masters levels. It has had an enrollment of more than 1,200 and a faculty of 57.

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