The establishment of an institution of higher learning in Liberia has been a dream of the United Methodist church in Liberia for a protracted period. The dream crystalize into the idea to establish a United Methodist University in the 1970s, out of the growing concern to provide programs of higher learning for the increasingly large number of women and men of Liberia and , in Africa generally. Before 1990, there were only two universities in Liberia, the University of Liberia, a state owned institution j, and the Cuttington University College, an Episcopal Church owned institution. With their limited facilities, these two institutions neither could nor accommodated the growing student population. As a result, a college education direly essential for national development was unobtainable by a large number of Liberians.
Such was the yearning of the United Methodist Church (UMU) for an institution of higher education that “Between” 1975-1979 the desire was translated into plans for the establishment of this junior College Program of business of the College of West Africa (CWA). In 1980, the college of West Africa Junior college Program of Business was launched, in partial fulfillment of the dream of the United Methodist Church. Over the succeeding decade, the college offered hundreds of students the degree of Associates of Arts in Accounting and Secretarial Science.
Following the 1990 civil war, the church’s higher education needs become ever more clarion. With the mere partial reactivation of the existing two institutions of higher education, the university of Liberia and Cuttington University College, thousands of young people desirous of pursing a college education, could not be absorbed.
In 1986, an 18-member committee chaired by the late Dr.C. Wesley Armstrong was commissioned to conduct study which was aimed at upgrading the JURION College to the level of a full university. The Armstrong Committee presented its report in March 1990 recommending the blue prints for transforming a college into a full university and the implementation of its first phase that same year.
Plans for implementation were abruptly disrupted by the onslaught of the Liberia civil war. Despite the massive loss of lives and destruction of property resulting from the civil war, the United Methodist church nevertheless remained undaunted in the quest to establish a United Methodist University.
In 1997, the United Methodist Church in Liberia resolved to establish the United Methodist University. A 22-member technical team headed by Rev. J. Twaplayfano Dohr, was then commissioned to undertake the comprehensive documentation for the establishment of the University.
On OCtober 9, 19898 the United Methodist University was chartered by the national Legislature bringing to fruition the three-decade old dream of the Liberia Annual Conference (LAC) of the United Methodist Church.
In an effort to broaden the scope of operation of the University and to give it an international recognition, a tripartite consultation conference was convened in Monrovia, Liberia, between the Liberia Annual Conference /UMU and the Africa University located in Zimbabwe, and the United Methodist Church General Board of Higher Education in the United States of America, in April 2000. At the end of the meeting the parties resolved in principle to strive together for the incorporation of the United Methodist University as a west Africa Satellite of Africa University.
The United Methodist University Officially opened its doors to the public in January 2000. To date the University operates 5 colleges; they include: the former Gbarnga School of Theology (GST), now the college of theology, the Winifred J.Harley School of Nursing, now under the college of Health Sciences, the College of Management and Administration, the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, and the Joseph Jenkins Roberts College of Education. The University also had a science division that is gradually moving towards granting degrees in the natural sciences.
Since the inception of the University, the following persons have served as President. The Rev. Dr. Emmanuel F. Bailey, 2000-2001, Dr. J. Oliver Duncan, 2001-2006. Emmanuel F. Bailey is serving a 2nd term as the 3rd president of the University.