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USP Vice-Chancellor Receives Vanuatu Meritorious Service Medal

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USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra after being awarded a Vanuatu Meritorious Service Medal at the State House with the Head of State of the Republic of Vanuatu, His Excellency Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale.

The Pro-Chancellor Winston Thompson and Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra   visited   Vanuatu from 29 July to attend celebrations to mark the country's 36th independence anniversary.

Vanuatu gained political independence on July 30th 1980. On the morning of Saturday 30th July 2016, USP delegates joined many thousands of dignitaries and people at the flag-raising ceremony at the Independence Park in the capital, Port Vila.

Following the flag-raising ceremony, Professor Chandra was among those honoured with the Vanuatu Meritorious Service Medal at the State House. The Head of State of the Republic of Vanuatu, His Excellency Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale awarded the medals as part of the celebrations at the State House.

In receiving the award, Professor Chandra made history as the first ever highest ranking officer of the University to be accorded such recognition by the Vanuatu Government.

In warmly congratulating the Vice-Chancellor and President, Pro-Chancellor Thompson as Chair of Council said that this recognition emphasised how much he had personally contributed, not only to Vanuatu’s development, but to that of the University region as a whole over many years.

The Republic of Vanuatu, formerly known as the New Hebrides was a founding member of the University. The award of the medal is in recognition of the important role of the university to the national development efforts of the country.

In his invitation to this award ceremony, the office of the Head of State of the Republic of Vanuatu made reference to the specific role and support provided by Professor Chandra through his many years of service to the country.

Professor Chandra expressed his sincere appreciation for this gesture which he says "not only recognises the role of the University in Vanuatu but the importance that leaders at the highest level accord to the institution and what it stands for".

USP delegates also attended a dinner that evening, hosted by Honourable Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu.

Professor Chandra was instrumental in the development of the School of Law in his role at that time as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Chairman of Academic Planning Committee. He led the University delegation to the Law Curriculum Planning Workshop in Port Vila in the early 1990s that developed the curriculum of the new law degree and obtained the backing of all member countries for the new degree. Since then, he has guided developments in his role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of flexible learning and IT for nine years. Since becoming the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chandra has paid greater attention to the development of the Emalus Campus, and has led the push for the development of degree courses in Education to be taught in French Language.

Under his leadership, the Vanuatu Government has provided additional buildings through Chinese assistance that have enabled more programmes to be offered at the Emalus Campus. The Confucius Institute also opened a Confucius Institute Classroom for Chinese language teaching in 2015.

As a member of the University, Vanuatu continues to benefit from higher education opportunities provided by USP. The University operates the Emalus campus, which accommodates the School of Law and a number of other schools and departments. In addition, the University has 4 Centres in the provinces.

Also awarded on that day was USP Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, John Lynch, who has retired from the University but is active in his academic pursuits. The event also saw the award of the Vanuatu Meritorious Service medal to the Honourable Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu and to other dignitaries.

The Pro-Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor and President will be having a series of meetings with leaders of the Government while in Vanuatu. They will meet with His Excellency the Head of State, Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale, Prime Minister, Honourable Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, His Lordship the Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek, Honourable Jean Pierre Nirua, Minister for Education and Training and others.

The University will also formally thank His Excellency the President for the role he has performed as Chancellor of USP, his term having concluded at the end of June this year.

This news item was published on 1 Aug 2016 10:02:58 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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