Welcome Message to Staff - 2016
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President
I wish to extend a warm welcome back to work for the New Year. I hope that you all had a good break, and are ready for another very productive, significant and challenging year.
Let me also convey my sincere thanks to all of you for 2015. The past 12 months have been marked by noteworthy achievements. As we reflect on the past year, I believe that we have many reasons to be satisfied with our accomplishments.
This year marks the beginning of a new triennium and the second half of our Strategic Plan 2013-2018 implementation.
Thus far, we have made good progress on our exciting journey to transform our University from good to excellent. I am confident that with some additional effort, innovation and drive, we should be able to celebrate the University’s 50th anniversary in 2018 with a sense of achievement and pride.
We ended last year on a very positive note with successful graduations for the Alafua and Emalus campuses, welcoming our new Pro Chancellor, Mr Winston Thompson and the approval by the New Zealand Government for a further three years of funding to a total value of NZD $15m to support our efforts in delivering the second triennium of our Strategic Plan.
Our 2015 enrolments marked its highest ever, reaching over 29,000. This reflected a strong confidence in the quality of the University, and has been made possible by the dedication and talent of our staff. We anticipate our enrolment growth in 2016 to be even higher, given our commitment to providing quality and relevant education to our students.
We have made substantial progress on the development of our regional campuses. The most significant one, of course, being the construction of a new campus in Kiribati, which was opened by the out-going President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong. Moving forward, we have already commenced planning to build a new campus in Solomon Islands and to carry out significant renovations to upgrade the property acquired by the University for a new Marshall Islands campus.
One of the seven priority areas in the current Strategic Plan (2013-2018) is the need for greater and enhanced Regional and Community Engagement. Our focus on regional campuses development is very much a key part of the work being done in this Priority Area. We believe our regional students should at least be able to access the same-level of resources and services that students at the main Laucala Campus are enjoying. We remain committed to working with Governments of our member countries in ensuring better access to quality and relevant education which is crucial for the future stability of Pacific Island Countries.
The best facilities do boost student achievement. However, they do not attract and nurture students in the way that good teachers, able administrators, and caring support staff are able to do. Excellent, committed, and innovative staff committed to student achievement and welfare are therefore the key to our progress. We will continue to recruit the best possible staff, and at the same time, retain and value our current staff. Whether you are a member of the teaching staff, professional or administrative/support staff, or are engaged in another type of back office role, all of your contribution to the University is important and appreciated. I hope that you will continue to take greater ownership of your responsibilities, as USP strengthens its position as the premier institution of higher learning in the Pacific.
I am also pleased that new appointments were made at the Senior Management level. The two recent ones are Professor Franco Gandolfi as the Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics and Professor Derrick Armstrong who took up the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and International). We now have the full Senior Management Team capable of providing very good leadership towards achieving the strategic goals and ambitions of the University.
USP was also a venue for many high profile visits and events last year. Our distinguished visitors included ADB President His Excellency Takehiko Nakao who delivered a public lecture at Laucala Campus and the visits by the Australian Foreign Minister, Honourable Julie Bishop and the Australian Minister for Education and Training, Honourable Christopher Pyne. This year, we are expecting a visit by the World Bank’s Vice President, East Asia and Pacific, Mr Axel van Trotsenburg.
We also hosted many international and regional events such as the 2015 Pacific Update, 39th Pacific Circle Consortium (PCC) Conference, the first-ever Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum and the International Conference on Logic for Programming, Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning. Such visits and events attest to the growing importance of the University in the region and beyond.
This year, we will continue to strengthen our Human Resources (HR) section. A new Director has been appointed for the section. The review is expected to be completed by the second half of the year aimed at improving our human resource matters including revision of policies and procedures, improving the recruitment process, strengthening automation systems, addressing any bottleneck issues and providing training to relevant HR staff to better equip them to provide high-level of service.
Quality will remain a key focus of the University, as we aim for more international recognition for our programmes and courses.
We have been granted eligibility status by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). This means that the University is eligible to apply for Candidacy and Initial Accreditation. This adds to our ever growing accreditation of our academic programmes like the Master of Business Administration (AMBA and Eduniversal has ranked MBA 6th in Oceania region); Accounting (CPA); Tourism and Hospitality Management (THE-ICE); Law (Recognised by Australia). I am particularly pleased that the Australian Computer Society has granted fully accreditation to Net Centric Computing and Software Engineering. Accreditation should be a major focus this year and during this triennium. I ask each Head of School and Dean to focus on this.
Furthermore, the Senate has approved the Quality of Teaching Policy and Quality of Research Policy. Both policies represent a genuine attempt by the University to improve the quality of our teaching and research, in order to add greater value to our students, staff and our stakeholders. This year, we will need to implement these policies as teaching and research represent the core function of the University—and we need to totally confident about the quality of these key activities.
Overall, the University’s reputation continued to improve regionally and internationally last year, and its systems and processes have continued to be re-engineered. The University is now on a very solid foundation for the future and I must reiterate that the success of the University is the result of hard work by you all.
It is important to reiterate that this is a crucial year for the University. I expect that all of our work this year should more substantially, than ever before, reflect and promote USP’s values, goals and aspirations, especially our determination to transform the University from good to excellent. I am indeed proud to lead the University and its staff. You are a diverse group of leaders, innovators, achievers, and advocates, and I look forward to a great year in 2016. I urge you to ensure that your individual contributions to USP are of the highest quality and to inject even greater energy, innovation, commitment and loyalty in your work.
I wish you a positive and productive 2016.