Southwestern alumnus and international educator dies at 64
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Derek Amos Mpinga, a native of Zimbabwe and an alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, died at age 64, May 23. Mpinga received both his Master of Religious Education (1976) and his Doctor of Education (1979) from Southwestern Seminary. Another two-time graduate of the seminary, Isaac M.T. Mwase, wrote the following obituary in his memory:
Derek Amos Mpinga, a premier administrator, academic and educator at various institutions both here and in various African countries, died on Friday, May 23. He was 64 and a resident of Phoenix, Arizona.
Widely trained, Dr. Mpinga received all his higher education degrees from institutions in the United States of America: an Associate of Science diploma in mathematics and science from North Greenville College, Tigerville, South Carolina; a B.S. in mathematics and physics from Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tennessee; two masters degrees, one in mathematics from Texas Christian University, Forth Worth, Texas, the other in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Finally, Dr. Mpinga’s terminal degree, a Doctor of Education in education administration, also came from Southwestern Seminary.
At the time of his death, Dr. Mpinga was vice president of Academic Affairs at Phoenix College, Phoenix, Arizona. His ascension to the upper echelons of higher education administration began with service in his native Zimbabwe, as dean of Academic and Student Affairs at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zimbabwe (1979-1983). He then served in Kenya as vice-principal for Academic and Student Affairs at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology.
Returning to the country of his academic preparation, Dr. Mpinga had a brief stint as a high school teacher in 1985. Unlike his teaching in Zimbabwe and Kenya, which had included courses in education administration, philosophy, ethics, and religious studies, Dr. Mpinga’s responsibilities at Americus High School in Georgia consisted of teaching mathematics and physics. He then went on to distinguish himself as a mathematics teacher at two colleges: the Tarrant County Junior College, Texas (1985-1987) and North Lake College, Irving, Texas (1992-1998). After first establishing himself in the classroom, Dr. Mpinga turned to administration at several two-year colleges. He became dean/chair of the mathematics division at Lane Community College, Eugene, Oregon (1998-2000). That deanship launched him into executive educational leadership as vice president and dean for Academic and Student Affairs at Waycross College, Georgia (2000-2005) and as vice president of Instruction, Brookhaven College, Farmers Branch, Texas (2005-2007).
Dr. Mpinga was a distinguished leader in his professions, the Baptist church, and various civic organizations. He was a member of many professional bodies, including the National Community College Chair Academy and the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges. He served on the advisory council for the Friends of Baptists in Zimbabwe (FOBIZ) from its inception in 2001. During his time in Zimbabwe, Dr. Mpinga served as the executive secretary for the Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe. He sourced $1.5 million from the Baptist World Alliance to help with rebuilding, drought relief, and the resettlement of war refugees. He served as a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. In his involvement with Waycross-Ware Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Mpinga served on the Education Committee, which came into existence through his advocacy. He served on numerous boards, including the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, Living Bible International-Africa, Leadership Development Associates-Hope for Africa, and the Accrediting Council for Theological Education.
In addition to being a pillar of his church and a preeminent educator and administrator, Dr. Mpinga was also a devoted husband to his late wife, Miriam and a doting father to his children, Denise and Daniel. From his early days on the faculty of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zimbabwe to his recent service as the chief academic officer of several institutions of higher learning, he touched many lives. When Dr. Mpinga was hired at Phoenix College, referring to that school’s slogan “Go Far, Close to Home,” he observed “We are on this journey together guided by five hallmarks: integrity, innovation, sustainability, accountability, and a positive attitude.” Dr. Mpinga’s smile and his optimism will be missed. God be praised for his life. Many will cherish his memory.