The African Studies Center (ASC) recently received a gift of $50,000 from Giorgio Guastalla in support of the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars (UMAPS) program. This gift is earmarked for faculty from Kenyan universities, whose research focuses on agriculture, environment, tourism, and technology, and will enable ASC to expand the reach of the UMAPS program to Kenya, a country from which the University of Michigan (U-M) has not previously been able to recruit UMAPS scholars.
UMAPS is a fantastic program and the perfect opportunity for us to contribute to building a better world for future generations by supporting the development of the university system in Africa,” says Giorgio Guastalla. “We believe African scholars spending a semester at U-M not only will be empowered with a wealth of experience that will become a precious seed in their home universities but will also enrich all the professors and students they will have exchanges with in Ann Arbor, creating a virtuous connection that will keep growing in the future.
The UMAPS program, established in 2009 by then U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, stands at the core of U-M’s engagement with Africa. Through this program, ASC has hosted 162 faculty from universities in more than ten African countries for research residencies on the U-M campus.
“UMAPS scholars contribute significantly to the diversity of voices present on our campus,” says Andries Coetzee, ASC director and professor of linguistics. “Having these scholars on our campus creates an opportunity for our students to learn about Africa from African scholars. Additionally, we now have UMAPS alumni across the continent who can serve as local mentors to Michigan students conducting research in Africa.”
To date, funding for the UMAPS program has come primarily from the university, foundations, and federal grants. Support for the program through private philanthropy signals broader recognition of its value for U-M’s global engagement
We are grateful for the support from the Guastalla family that will enable us to bring talented Kenyan faculty to U-M, and to strengthen the research and institutional ties that U-M already has with Kenyan universities, says Coetzee.