JACKSON — Union University welcomed a delegation from Bowen University in Nigeria earlier this summer, marking the initiation of a potential partnership aimed at fostering collaboration between the two Baptist institutions.
The contingent from Bowen University included Joshua Ogunwole, the vice chancellor (equivalent to president); Joan Ayo, the pro chancellor (similar to chair of the board of trustees); and Israel Akanji, the president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
Union University President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said a partnership would align with one of the themes in “Protinus,” Union’s strategic plan that was adopted in January — advancing Christ-centered higher education.
“An objective under that is providing leadership to like-minded, Christ-centered higher education institutions,” Oliver said. “We thought this might be a way we could partner with a sister institution on the African continent.”
The focus of the discussions was identifying areas of potential collaboration with a particular emphasis on integrating faith and learning, maintaining biblical fidelity and developing academic programs.
Oliver said two of Union’s core values — “excellence-driven” and “Christ-centered” — align well with Bowen University’s values of excellence and godliness.
Additionally, both institutions discussed potential partnerships in emerging fields, such as cybersecurity and social work.
Union’s recent launch of a cybersecurity program and its expertise in computer science were of particular interest to Bowen.
As the discussions progress, both Union and Bowen anticipate an ongoing relationship characterized by mutual support and collaboration.
“The next step is for them to think through ways we could most be helpful to them, and suggest those to us so that we could consider them,” Oliver said about the partnership.
“I think it will also mean that in the next year to 18 months, a few of us go over to Nigeria, to Bowen, and visit them.”
Bowen University is the largest Baptist university in Nigeria and is named for Thomas Jefferson Bowen, the first Southern Baptist missionary to Nigeria.
The Nigerian Baptist Convention is made up of 14,000 churches and numbers 10 million members. B&R