Campus News

Former UGA VP speaks on need to partner with Africa

When UGA partners with African institutions, the state of Georgia benefits.

That’s what Art Dunning, former UGA vice president for public service and outreach, told the crowd March 6 at the 20th annual Darl Snyder Lecture.

Dunning currently serves as vice chancellor for international programs and outreach at the University of Alabama System.

His 40-minute lecture, “The University of Georgia and Africa: A Future with a Past,” drew parallels between UGA’s land-grant mission and its work across national borders.

“When I think about what we’re doing in Africa, I think of capacity building,” he said. “My father was a high school principal and my mother was a teacher. They used to encourage Extension agents to come into the school. It was all about capacity building. And that’s what we’ve done in Africa. We’ve built relationships and brought Africans here to study at UGA and to get master’s and Ph.D.s.”

With six of the 10 fastest-growing countries in the world, a rising middle class and increased Chinese interest and development there, Africa will soon hold a big place on the world stage, said Dunning. The U.S. and Africa already share a history, he said, so it only makes sense that they share a future.

“That was my drive, thinking about how our domestic agenda in this nation from the beginning has been impacted by the African Diaspora,” Dunning said. “If we’re going to be good scholars on this campus, we have to remember that. I’m going to encourage you and your colleagues to broaden this discussion and be unabashed about it.”
That conversation needs to happen all over campus, he said, not only in the African Studies Institute, which sponsored the lecture.

“My interests stemmed from teaching, research and service. I’m very passionate about how we expose students to the continent of Africa. I want us to inform faculty research, those who had an interest in Africa,” he said. “We were always trying to provide a broad platform and not just focus on a handful of disciplines.”
The lecture-attended by Snyder and held on his 90th birthday-marked Dunning’s first time on campus since he left in 2010 to take the Alabama position.