I wish to extend a warm welcome back to work to all USP staff. I hope that the festive break was an opportunity for you all to take some well-deserved rest and enjoy the company of your family and friends.
We ended last year on a very positive note with the payment of a salary increase for our staff in line with the comparators of various categories of staff. We hope that this would have lifted your morale and that we are even more committed now to meeting the expectations of the SP 2013-2018.
These are very exciting times at USP, a growing and thriving hub of learning, research, and cultural exchange. Last year we reached a new enrolment record, an accomplishment made possible by the dedication and talent of all USP staff. We also made substantial progress on renovations and enhancements to some of the campuses. 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. You, the USP staff, are this universityís most important asset, and have developed it into an institution that is chosen by ever greater numbers of highly-able students. You have demonstrated great effort and achievement in the past year, and I hope you share my enthusiasm and positive anticipation as we start 2014.
I am very pleased that we have started the academic year well. Classes started well-prepared in faculties. Record numbers of students have enrolled: We anticipate our enrolment growth this year to be as high as last year, which represents considerable achievement in an increasingly competitive market.
Our service will be of most value if we work diligently to implement the Strategic Plan, as this has been endorsed by our member countries as the means to ensure that
USP becomes a truly excellent university, as measured by its services to and results for Pacific Island Countries. The Strategic Plan is not just a document; it informs how we should work, every day, in the short and long term. It is important that the delivery of relevant and rigorous education to the widest possible numbers of Pacific Islanders remains foremost in our minds.
All staff, no matter their substantive role, can have an impact on the success, happiness, and accomplishment of individual students. I hope that you will take full ownership of this responsibility, as USP strengthens its position as the most inspiring, the most supportive, and the best resourced and equipped centre of higher education in the Pacific.
The changes required for excellence are broad and varied, and range from operational adjustments, such as using ICT tools to automate more processes (thus freeing up more time for innovation) to the transformative changes being implemented by Human Resources. No matter their depth or scope, all of the changes that are being implemented have been carefully designed to positively impact our work.
This is an important year for the University as a whole, as we strive to make rapid progress toward our goal of excellence. I intend that all of our work this year should, more substantially than ever before, clearly reflect and promote USPís values, including loyalty, respect, and the honouring of Pacific knowledge, context, and aspirations.
I encourage all members of the USP community to be mindful of their role as contributors to the development of our island countries. Throughout the year, I hope to explore with all of you the ways and means that USP can be of better service to the wider community.
In order to improve transparency and reduce suspicion, I have directed the Director of Assurance and Compliance to attend selected meetings of Appointments Committee and prepare confidential reports for EDHR and the VC to ensure that our appointments have full and demonstrable integrity.
This year we have also increased Sabbatical to 4 months. I encourage staff to apply for Sabbatical with well-developed and impactful proposals. We need the younger staff in particular to get more exposure to other universities and great access to research and publication opportunities.
I am proud to lead the USP staff; you are a diverse group of leaders, innovators, achievers, and advocates, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in 2014.
I urge you to ensure that your individual contributions to USP are of the highest quality, have a visibly positive and lasting impact, and foster the values of inclusiveness and equity, so serving to help build the USP that has been envisioned for its 50th anniversary.