CSUB professor helps African university

July 17, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

A California State University, Bakersfield communications professor is taking part of her summer and all of her tax returns to help provide books to a fledgling university in Zimbabwe.

Elizabeth Jackson is hauling about 600 books to Midlands State University in Gweru, which is right in the heart of the country. Midlands State was only founded in 2000, and is slowly getting up to speed. According to Midland State's website, it is now offering classes on a semester system and attracting students from throughout the country due to its central location.

Jackson became familiar with the school when she was in Zimbabwe in 2003-04 on a Fulbright fellowship. So touched was she by the determination of the people to have a university that she has been doing all she can ever since to help. "They're so excited (about Midlands State) because it's their wish come true," she said. "They're just among the most brilliant and brightest kids in the world. My year there was one of the best years of my life."

Already the 7-year-old school has about 8,000 students, similar to CSUB's enrollment. But when she first went to the campus four years ago "it had not texts, no computers, no desks, no chairs." She helped arrange for some equipment while she was there, and returned to CSUB determined to help the young campus.

To that end she enlisted the support of the CSUB Global Affairs Club. She then took her tax return this year and bought as many books as she could. Recent CSUB graduate and Global Affairs Club member Tiara Cox is going with her to Zimbabwe to "help get the suitcases full of books over there." Additionally, Jackson said, Ron and Toni Jacobs donated $2,100 to help with the project; also CSUB faculty members Kent Price, Cliona Murphy and Emily Thiroux made donations.

Jackson is hoping a couple other people will join her on the trip, which begins July 25. "This is a call to anyone with an adventurous spirit interested in going to see this complex and fascinating country," she said, adding that the project is year-round, and donations of money or books may be made any time.

Those who would like to help by donating books or money may call the CSUB communications department office at (661) 654-2141.

For more information, please call Jackson at (661) 654-2201.