Dear valued members of staff
I welcome you most warmly to the new academic year. I hope that you would have found some time for rest and recreation and are ready for another exciting and fruitful year.
2010 was a successful year for us. The implementation of the Strategic Plan was encouraging and a focus on it saw improvements in quality across the University. Some landmark developments occurred, such as the completion of the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, which has given USP unprecedented capacity to lift its teaching and research in the vital area of ICT and to reach effectively into our region. Support from Australia increased significantly, and we were very pleased to sign the agreement for the establishment of the Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration (PICPA), which is expected to become operational in the first half of this year. Appointment of senior, especially professorial, staff continued and staff were able to receive a salary increase of 8.2 percent backdated to 1 January 2009. In the current economic climate, this was a significant achievement. Staff morale improved in 2010 as more and more staff could see the progress being made and the vision for USP become clearer.
Support of member countries remained strong in 2010, and this is testimony to the value that USP delivers to its membership and the Pacific community. Through its effective participation in the CROP mechanism, the profile of USP increased in 2010. Development partners are increasingly seeking partnerships with USP.
Significant improvements were made in student support. The new constitutional arrangements for the studentsí association were implemented, with encouraging leadership from students. Student services across the University were improved and expanded, with campus life taking important initiatives.
The University also continued to strengthen its foundation to achieve excellence. The first Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award was made in 2010. Additional awards to reward excellence in innovation and creative arts were instituted. Awards for the best Head of School and the Best Campus Director were instituted and I expect these awards to be finalized in the first quarter of this year. These initiatives are designed to ensure that USP reaches new heights in academic, research and service excellence.
In 2011, we stand at the mid-point of our Strategic Plan and it is useful to think ahead to 2018, when USP will celebrate its golden anniversary. We owe it to the people of the Pacific Islands to ensure that when we come to it, we celebrate the achievements of a great institution that has made outstanding contributions to the development of our Pacific Island countries. It will not be enough to say that we have done a good job, because good is not good enough. We need to be the best. We need to lift our vision. We have the capacity and we have the moral duty to do this. So starting this year, we need to shift gear towards this new vision and higher goal.
Turning a good university into a great university will require us to rethink our ideas, policies and procedures. We will need to focus on excellence in staffing. We will need to agree on our individual and institutional performance that stretches our abilities. We will need to think outside the box. But above all, we will need to be part of the team; commit to USP as an outstanding regional university with a global reputation; and we will need to take responsibility for achieving this and finding solutions to the inevitable problems and bottlenecks. I urge all of you to commit to this vision, and be part of the team that delivers a great university when we celebrate our 50th anniversary in the not too distant future.
This year is also when we undertake most of the work for the STAR project, which represents a fundamental re-thinking of our academic portfolio in terms of relevance; innovation; appropriateness of academic nomenclature and organization; graduate attributes and their implementation in our curriculum; elimination of duplication; tight weaving of the curricula to ensure progressive development of knowledge, skills, concepts, values and preparedness for the world of work and further study.
This year will also be strategically challenging for us as we think ahead about our future financing from member governments and the implications of the emergence of additional national providers of tertiary education. The UGC will meet this year to review our progress and our thinking for the future.
The University does not have too much time to reshape itself for the new realities facing us in the region. There will be much reviewing and re-thinking, with short-timelines for action. We need to embrace this sense of urgency - and I am confident that our staff will rise to this occasion and secure an outstanding future for USP. This is the challenge for us. Let us work hard on this together with a keen sense of what our region requires of its premier university.
Once again, welcome back to the University. I extend a very special welcome to all new staff joining this premier regional institution at these crossroads.
Professor Rajesh Chandra
Vice-Chancellor and President