The Great Zimbabwe University, then known as Masvingo State University, was established through the recommendations of the Chetsanga Report of August 1995 which proposed the devolution of Teachers’ and Technical Colleges into degree awarding institutions that would eventually become universities in their own right.
The Year 1999
The University was launched in June 1999 as the Masvingo Degree Programme of the University of Zimbabwe with 120 students enrolled for a two-year In-Service Bachelor of Education Primary School degree. Professor Obert Edward Maravanyika was appointed as the first acting Pro Vice Chancellor. He was asked to produce a concept paper on the future of a university in Masvingo. Prof Maravanyika identified the university’s niche as the reading of arts and culture related studies in performing, visual, literary and digi/electronic arts.
The Year 2000
In 2000, the Masvingo Degree Programme saw its first output of 118 students who had completed the two year programme Bachelor of Education (In-Service) degree. The Masvingo Degree Programme was upgraded to a University College of the University of Zimbabwe in the same year.
The Year 2002
In 2002, Masvingo University College enrolled its first group of one hundred (100) ‘A’ level certificate holders on the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree programme. On December 22 2002, Masvingo University College became Masvingo State University established by an Act of Parliament Chapter 22.24 No.11/2002.
The Year 2003
On 5 March 2003, 100 first year Bachelor of Arts students and 120 first year Bachelor of Education (Primary) students were the first to register under the new Masvingo State University. On December 17 2003, the Council for Masvingo State University was inaugurated and Prof Maravanyika was appointed Acting Vice Chancellor.
The Year 2004
In March 2004 Masvingo State University enrolled its first group of Bachelor of Education Early Childhood Education and the Bachelor of Education Primary Pre-Service degree programmes. The University absorbed over eight hundred students, sixteen academic staff and seventeen non-academic staff from Great Zimbabwe University, a privately run Church university which had collapsed. In September 2004, while addressing Traditional Chiefs at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde R.G. Mugabe indicated the need for a state institution of higher learning named after the Great Zimbabwe Monuments. The institution would derive inspiration from the symbolism of the national shrine in determining its special niche. Its curricula would focus on heritage studies, arts and culture but without abandoning those areas that are required for human resource training for overall national development.
The Year 2005
In September 2005, Professor Obert Maravanyika was appointed the first Vice-Chancellor of Masvingo State University.
The Year 2006
In January 2006, the Masvingo State University hosted the International Conference on the Transformation of Masvingo State University to Great Zimbabwe University under the theme: Reclaiming National and Cultural Heritage in Higher Education: Situating the Humanities and Creative Arts in Local Contexts.
The Year 2007
In July 2007, Masvingo State University was allocated 1000 hectares of land by the Government of Zimbabwe near the Great Zimbabwe National Monuments for the construction of the world class mega African university campus. The university was also allocated two farms courtesy of the Government of Zimbabwe initiated land reform programme. In July 2007, the Masvingo State University Amendment Act (2007) was passed in Parliament paving the way for Masvingo State University to be renamed Great Zimbabwe University adopting the name of the former Church university. On August 2 2007, His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde R. G. Mugabe was installed as the founding Chancellor of the Great Zimbabwe University while Professor O. E. Maravanyika was installed its first Vice Chancellor. More than one thousand students from across the University’s four Faculties became the first group of graduates to be capped at the University. Soon after the installation and graduation ceremony, His Excellency, the President and Chancellor conducted a ground breaking ceremony at the 1000 hectares main campus site near the Great Zimbabwe National Monuments where the world class mega African university campus will be constructed. In October 2007, Great Zimbabwe University and the University of Venda (UNIVEN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), paving the way for the teaching of the Venda and Shangani languages at Great Zimbabwe University in March 2008. UNIVEN was to avail lecturers for the teaching of these two languages.
The Year 2008
In January 2008, the first five-year strategic plan for the University, “Navigating Our Future, covering the period 2008-2013 was launched. In March 2008, Bachelor of Arts degree programmes in Venda and Shangani were launched. On 9 October 2008, the Dzimbahwe Arts Festival (DAF), a unique multi-disciplinary festival that showcases performances and productions in visual arts, literary arts, culinary arts and performing arts, research and academia, hosted by the Great Zimbabwe University annually, was launched.
The Year 2010
In January 2010, the Institute of Cultural Heritage Studies was launched. The Institute is non-faculty cluster of departments, centres and schools.They engage in research, teaching, training and outreach activities in areas of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
The Year 2011
August 2011, a new Great Zimbabwe University Council chaired by prominent lawyer, Mr Simplicius J. Chihambakwe was appointed to steer the continued growth and expansion of the University. The new Council came into office simultaneously with the installation of Profesor Rungano Zvobgo as the second Vice Chancellor and since then the institution has seen a rapid increase in enrollment of students into degree programmes.
The Year 2012
October 1 2012, Professor Rungano Jonas Zvobgo was appointed as the new Vice Chancellor of Great Zimbabwe University. The University re-aligned and re-engineered its entire curriculum to suit its culture enhancement and heritage focus by including 2 modules, namely Culture Studies and Heritage Studies in all undergraduate programs. All undergraduate programs were upgraded to 4 year honors degrees. Great Zimbabwe University hosted the 39th Annual Conference of the Southern African Society for Education (SASE). It was the first time that the conference was held outside of South Africa. Professor Rungano Jonas Zvobgo was installed as the Vice Chancellor by University Chancellor and President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency, President R.G. Mugabe at an Installation Ceremony attended by a crowd of about 5000 people. The masterplan for Great Zimbabwe University’s world class mega African campus near Great Zimbabwe Monuments was approved by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary education.
The Years 2012-2013
In the history of Great Zimbabwe University, the years 2012-2013 were dubbed the “era of transformation”. In order to sustain the expansion, the University adopted a multi-campus approach towards the en d of 2012. Consequently, in addition to the Main Campus temporarily housed adjacent to Masvingo Teachers College, satellite Campuses namely the City Campus, Mucheke Campus and the famous Mashava Campus were established. Further a Works and Esates Workshop was established in the light industry area. The growing stature of the University attracted international students, thus in August 2013, the university enrolled its first group forty (40) international students, from Namibia thereby marketing the full internationalisation of the University.
The most memorable event at the University was the conferment of the Doctor of African Heritage and Philosophy Degree (Honoris Causa) to the President, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe by the University on October 25, 2013 in recognition of the President’s consistent contribution to the advancement of Unhu / Ubuntu..