The United Methodist University (UMU) is privately owned by the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and is a faith based Christian co-educational institution of higher learning. The University was established in 1998 and officially began its operations in January, 2000 during the Liberian civil war.
The idea to conceive a University began in the early 1970s growing out of the concern that Liberia had only two (2) institutions of higher learning, namely, the Cuttington University College, an Episcopal University; and the University of Liberia, owned the Government of Liberia. These two institutions could not adequately serve and/or meet the education and manpower needs of the Country.
The Church, when became a leader in providing Christian Education to Liberia in 1839, desire to provide higher education to the increasingly large number of youths, including women and men that yearned to continue their education, and as such, contribute to the social and economic development of Liberia.
As the result, the Church, commissioned a body to develop plans for the establishment of an institution of higher learning. The initial work commenced in 1975, and by 1979, the Church approved plans for the establishment of the College of West Africa Junior College.
In 1980, the College of West Africa Junior College began operational with programs being offered in business and secretarial science. Students that matriculated to the Junior College graduated with Associates of Arts Degrees in Accounting and Secretarial Science. The Junior College operated until the Liberian Civil war began in 1990.
Prior, in 1986, the Church, desirous of having a full fledge degree granting higher education institution, commissioned an 18-member committee chaired by the late Dr. C. Wesley Armstrong. The Armstrong Commission was tasked with the responsibility of conducting a feasibility study for the upgrade of the College of West Africa Junior College Programs to the level of a full university. The Armstrong Committee presented its report in March 1990 recommending the blue prints for transforming the College into a full university the same year. The Church approved the recommendations, but the implementation was delayed due to the Liberian civil war.
Although the dream for establishing the United Methodist University was delayed, the Church remained resolute in providing higher education opportunities to Liberian and Africans in general. As the civil war subsided, it became increasingly apparent, that Cuttington University and the University of Liberia could not meet the increasing demand from students seeking higher education. Again, the Church, constituted another body to revive the Armstrong Commission Report. In 1997, a 22-member technical team headed by Rev. J. Twaplayfano Dohr, was commissioned to take a comprehensive review of the work for the establishment of the United Methodist University.
As the result of the work of the Twaplayfano Committee, the United Methodist University was chartered by the National Legislature on October 9, 1999 as full fledge University. The work of the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church finally became reality.
Since the inception of the United Methodist University, efforts have been made to partner with the Africa University in Zimbabwe. A tripartite consultation conference was held in April, 2000 in Monrovia, Liberia, with the United Methodist Church General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Africa University of Zimbabwe, and the United Methodist University to forge a collaborative working relationship. As such, it was agreed in principle, that the UMU could serve as the West Africa Satellite Campus of Africa University. To date, the United Methodist University has seven (7) colleges; namely,
- College of Management and Administration (CMA),
- College of Theology (Gbarnga School of Theology-GST),
- Winifred J. Harley College of Health Sciences (WHCHS),
- College of Liberal and Fine Arts (CFLA),
- Joseph Jenkins Roberts College of Education (JJRCE),
- College of Agriculture (CA),
- College of Science and Technology (CST).
The University offers diploma, associates, undergraduate and graduate (divinity) degrees in twenty-four (24) different programs on four (4) campuses nationwide with a student population of about 5000.
The Rev. Dr John G. Innis, Resident Bishop of the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is the Chairman of the Board of Directors. The United Methodist Church has over 300,000 members throughout the country, and is the second largest Christian denomination.