by Bailey White
Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu will spend the spring semester teaching at the University of North Florida. And the good news is that UNF students won’t be the only ones to benefit from him being in Jacksonville. In addition to a credit course he is teaching, Tutu will also teach three non-credit mini-courses, which will be open to the public.
Tutu was born in South Africa and has become famous for his role in opposing apartheid. He trained as a teacher and graduated in 1954 from the University of South Africa. In the early 1960s he studied theology and was ordained as an Anglican priest. He received a master’s degree in theology from Kings College in London and taught theology in South Africa during the 1970s. In 1978 he was named the first black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. He chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, which published a report on the horrors of the South African government during 1960 to 1994.
He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his role as a unifying leader in the campaign to resolve the apartheid problem in South Africa. For the past several years he has taught at Emory University in Atlanta.
This will be Tutu’s second time in Jacksonville. He came to UNF in 1999 as part of the Presidential Lecture Series. Behind both visits is Oupa Ceane, the assistant director for the Center of International Business Studies at UNF, professor, and friend of Tutu’s from the days when Tutu was dean of the cathedral in Johannesburg.
“I was able to see the benefits to the students and the city of Atlanta when Archbishop Tutu was at Emory,” said Ceane. “I thought it would be nice, not just for UNF students, but for the community as well, if someone so big and well-known could come to Jacksonville. It is quite an exciting thing for the university and the community.”
Ceane said he was thrilled when Tutu accepted the semester-long position.
“I just knew that we would not get him,” said Ceane. “There were so many other schools that wanted him, but I asked him to please consider. When he accepted I was elated.”
The mini-courses are called The Struggle Against Apartheid, and will be held on Monday from 5-6 p.m., over a period of three weeks for each class. Dates are Feb. 3, 10, and 17; March 3, 10 and 17; and April 7, 14, and 21. Registration for the courses, which cost $100 per person, begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 2. Space is limited to 50 persons per course. The credit course for UNF students is called Truth and Reconciliation.