DeSales Trexler Library News

DeSales Degrees to Be Offered in Tanzania

by William Edwards '17 | Mar 30, 2015

Philosophy graduates, you’re about to have Tanzanian company.

Starting this June, DeSales University will offer accredited B.A. degrees in philosophy at Lumen Christi Institute, a higher education seminary in Arusha, Tanzania. The agreement was signed in March by Rev. Bernard O’Connor, OSFS, president of DeSales University, and Rev. Dr. Johnson Kallidukkil, MSFS, provincial of the East Africa Province and Delegate of the Superior General of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales (MSFS) Congregation, on site at the African school. 

lumen_christi_center_ArushaLumen Christi is run by the MSFS under Tanzania’s British-style education system, which means that because of its non-university status, the school needed an affiliate university to issue its bachelor’s degrees.

“The institute in Tanzania can only give certificates, which doesn’t allow admission to graduate schools,” said Fr. Peter Leonard, OSFS, dean of graduate education at DeSales. “So what this agreement does for them is give them an undergraduate degree from an accredited American Institution that can then help them further their studies.”

Plans for the agreement have been in the making for more than a year, with a proposal outlining the partnership needing the approval of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education. Leonard, along with Dr. Brian Kane, division head of the liberal arts and social sciences and Fr. John F. Harvey, OSFS, Chair, and Dr. Stephen Loughlin, department chair of philosophy and theology visited Lumen Christi last year and met with administrators to draw up plans for the deal. While at the school, which will have access to DeSales’ Trexler Library’s resources, Leonard said the biggest problem he came across was an overwhelming lack of internet, which would have posed problems with a Middle States approval.

“If we went to the accreditors and said we’re going to share the library, but we have a water pipe that’s so small nothing comes through it, we weren’t going to be able to substantiate that,” Leonard said. “The initial reaction of the faculty was: that a robust internet was not crucial, but it was something that the partnership needed. Soon after, the Institute was able to improve their internet and data connections through the generosity of a donor from Germany.” 

In spite of the internet issues, the institute is developed and includes an academic building, a seminary building, a small library, a chapel, dining hall, two hostels, and a recently built medical clinic. Leonard said it was evident the school will continue to develop, having long term plans already laid out. “They know where the next ten buildings will go,” he laughed. Talks are also beginning about a program that would send physician assistant students to Lumen Christi’s new clinic as a medical rotation option.

This is the second foreign MSFS institution where DeSales University is offering degrees. The first is Suvidya College in Bangalore, India, a country also operating under the British education system. When Suvidya first sought to offer bachelor’s degrees, Leonard explained they had trouble finding a partner university in India that aligned with their religious curriculum wishes because the majority of the population is Hindu. 

Leonard said Lumen Christi began to have the same difficulty in finding a Catholic partnership in Tanzania when the MSFS inquired about a partnership with DeSales University. Twenty-five students currently make up Lumen Christi’s philosophy program, and eight to ten of them are scheduled to graduate next year.

“They think it’s wonderful,” Leonard said. “They would like to have a college full of programs, education, science…that’s what this mission was about.” 

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