Dear Members of Staff
I warmly welcome you back to the new academic year. I hope that you have been able to relax over the break and are returning refreshed, enthusiastic and motivated. I extend a special welcome to the staff who have recently joined our USP community.
We have already had an excellent start to our 2012 academic year with successful enrolment, orientation, the opening of the Multi-Purpose Theatre, the International Conference on ICTs and Oceanian Cultures, and the smooth start of teaching.
There is much to be accomplished in 2012 and if we can approach it in the same manner that we did 2011, we will achieve much.
This is a significant year because it marks the end of the University’s Strategic Plan 2010-2012 and the current triennium. We have already begun the preparation of the UGC Submission and the new Strategic Plan that will see us through to our 50th anniversary in 2018.
I wish to express my deep appreciation to you for what USP was able to achieve in 2011.
Last year, the University continued on its path of fundamental and transformational reforms which are vital for it to distinguish itself clearly and boldly from the other tertiary education providers in the region. The activities of the year contributed to the enhancement of quality learning, teaching, and research; resulted in broader international recognition and accreditation of more programmes; and encouraged teaching and professional staff to lift the standards of their work even further.
The University has proven itself to be an institution that uses its resources wisely for the greatest possible benefit. This effectiveness has encouraged development partners to further extend their financial support to the University, allowing USP to undertake additional activities in support of all Strategic Plan priority areas. The University has upgraded its planning processes and systems to ensure a world-class integration of strategic and operational planning, monitoring and evaluation and institutional research.
During 2011, there were substantial improvements made to ICT speed and infrastructure and a wider variety of student support services were offered. New courses were introduced and international accreditation was achieved by key programmes, such as accounting, banking, tourism and hospitality and finance. The identification of eight focal areas to drive forward the research, learning and engagement activities of the University, and the subsequent operationalization of those research clusters, was another exciting achievement of the year.
The University values its staff and regards them as agents of change. Whether you are a member of the teaching staff, provide administrative support, or play another type of back office role, your contribution to the University is important and appreciated. I look forward to receiving your input on the next Strategic Plan and to hearing about your ideas as to how the University can be further developed.
There are certain steps that need to be taken now, during this final year of the Strategic Plan 2010-2012 and during the planning period for the next transformative Strategic Plan, which will take USP from good to great. USP aims to be regarded as the best university in the world for Pacific Studies and, in order to ensure that this status is achieved by 2018; we need to now provide additional support for Pacific arts and culture. We must value our distinct Pacific heritage and work towards developing, protecting and preserving it. I welcome your ideas on this topic and hope that you will actively embrace the Pacific nature of the campuses, and bring your own culture and experience to the workplace.
During 2012, we should all think about what we can do as individuals to support a positive learning environment. I am sure that you have ideas as to how we can better support our diverse student community. I hope that more staff members will become involved in Campus Life activities, which exist not only for students but also for staff and their families.
The development and enhancement of our regional campuses remain very high priorities for the University. The development of the Kiribati campus begins this year, which will be followed by the construction of a proposed new campus in the Solomon Islands.
In addition to those highly visible improvements to infrastructure, improvements are being made to the University’s planning and information management systems. The Planning and Quality section recently launched its data warehouse, which has bolstered the capacity of the University to manage its planning to the standards of universities overseas. This year USP management will produce a new marketing strategy and a plan to strategically manage student enrolment, with the aim of making USP a stronger postgraduate and research university. I hope that all staff will become more research active and trust that the research clusters will effectively guide multidisciplinary research efforts. Further investments in research will be made, alongside increased recruitment of students at the Masters and PhD levels.
Four key themes have been identified to guide our work in this final year of the Strategic Plan 2010-2012. Mindfulness of these ideas should assist all of us in ensuring that the Strategic Plan is fully implemented. Achievement in the areas of institutional sustainability; student success, transformation and academic excellence; human resource transformation; and regional engagement and delivery will position the University well for the next Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan 2013-2018 will adopt a balanced approach with a logical framework to achieve results and meet performance expectations. This will integrate quality, planning and resource management through annual plans to succeed financially, to satisfy our students and stakeholders and exceed their expectations, sustain our ability to learn and improve, and to achieve excellence in all our processes, systems, governance and management.
The work of STAR will continue throughout 2012, creating a curriculum that meets or exceeds international standards. Your continued commitment to STAR is much appreciated. The University has never before been in this enviable position, on a clear path to being a world-class institution. We can now think about establishing USP as a great university, as we have all the pre-requisites for this in place. We now only need the ambition and the vision, which will be set out in the next Strategic Plan. I hope that you share my optimism for this University, realizing that this region deserves the best that we can give, and the best that we can imagine.
We must continue to increase the feelings of community and ownership within our University by working together, across sections, faculties, and campuses, as one big Pacific community. I encourage you to explore new ways of supporting your students and colleagues to achieve bigger and better things. I hope that you will see the University as supportive of your ideas and will work effectively to continually improve your work, while being mindful of the reason we are all here- the students, who are the future of the South Pacific.
Once again welcome back to the University for 2012.