From L-R: Mr Winston Thompson, USP Pro-Chancellor, His Excellency Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale, President of Vanuatu and Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) thanked His Excellency Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale, President of Vanuatu on 2 August 2016, for his role as Chancellor of the University, at a dinner organised in his honour.
President Lonsdale’s tenure as Chancellor ended in June 2016.
As part of their official visit to Vanuatu, the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Winston Thompson and Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra paid a courtesy call on His Excellency Lonsdale at the State House.
Following the award of the meritorious service medal to Professor Chandra, they took the opportunity to thank the President for the recognition of the University and the Vice- Chancellor and President in this manner.
Mr Thompson observed that this “gives more recognition of USP as the University of Vanuatu”. They both thanked His Excellency for his role in bestowing such an honour on the University and Professor Chandra.
Later that evening, the University hosted a dinner at the Warwick Lelagon Resort to thank and farewell His Excellency the President as the Chancellor of USP. The dinner was also attended by other dignitaries, including the Honourable Charlot Salwai, Prime Minister of Vanuatu; Honourable Joe Natuman, Deputy Prime Minister; Honourable Gaeton Pikioun, Minister of Finance; His Lordship Vincent Lunabek, the Chief Justice; His Excellency Simon Flore, the Deputy High Commissioner of Australia to Vanuatu; senior Government Officers and USP staff.
In his address, Mr Thompson acknowledged the contributions that His Excellency had made during his term as the Chancellor from July 2015 to June 2016.
“The University belongs to the 12 member countries and having each Head of State serve as Chancellor for a year gives the institution added status from which the whole university community and our graduates and alumni benefit,” Mr Thompson said.
He added that “His Excellency the President has further consolidated the high status our regional Heads of State have given to the role of Chancellor of the University”.
The Pro Chancellor said that “The University is profoundly grateful for the strong and unwavering support from the Government of Vanuatu, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Finance, Chief Justice, and Council of Ministers”.
The Emalus Campus, he added “is a major campus of the University and is a critical provider of legal and other skills for Vanuatu and the rest of the University region.”
Mr Thompson also presented a gift to the former Chancellor as a small token of appreciation on behalf of the University.
In responding to the Pro-Chancellor’s comments, His Excellency, the President thanked the University for the opportunity to serve as Chancellor.
“After receiving the invitation from the University to serve as Chancellor, it took me quite a while to finally accept the honour,” explaining that there were already many responsibilities expected of his office.
He noted that major domestic matters required his attention, and these became more evident during the course of his tenure as Chancellor.
His Excellency the President again confirmed the Government’s support to the University, thanking the institution for a fantastic track record in support of the Vanuatu people.
He remarked further “I encourage the whole of the region to support USP. On behalf of the Hon Prime Minister I can say that the Vanuatu Government will continue to support the University”.
In his vote of thanks, Professor Chandra thanked the President for his sterling service as the Chancellor.
“Despite all the extensive responsibilities of His Excellency and many domestic issues that required the attention of the President, the Chancellor attended most of the graduations, and added dignity to them,” said Professor Chandra.
Professor Chandra added that Vanuatu has provided two Chancellors to the University.
“The University associates your service with distinction. Your chancellorship was inspiring. We admire the passion with which you advocated for the university,” he stressed.
Professor Chandra made further reference to the strong leadership and integrity that His Excellency the President has brought to his office.
He observed that everyone in the region who followed developments in Vanuatu in the past year “can only have the highest regard and admiration for the way you have led and made decisions for this country during very trying times”.
He said that the “University’s partnership with Vanuatu is possibly at its peak so far, and for that we record our sincere appreciation”.
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