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USP – Mother of all universities in Pacific

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Professor Unaisi Walu Nabobo Baba, a USP alumnus during the FALE Seminar Series.

The University of the South Pacific (USP) is the mother of all universities in the Pacific and has been called for a particular duty to serve its member countries.

This was the sentiment expressed by Professor Unaisi Walu Nabobo Baba, a USP alumnus and Dean of College of Humanities of Education at Fiji National University.

Professor Baba first graduated from USP in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Certificate in Education majoring in Geography, and Literature and Language. In December 1994, she graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and later in 1997, attained Master of Arts in Education.

USP, Professor Baba said, is like a network hub, connecting people of the region and acknowledged the University’s role in nurturing the diversity among the Pacific Islanders.

According to her, USP is like a vale ni vanua and has dual characteristics; it could be a house where the chief dwells and built with the resources of the people; and the idea of the vale ni vanua is also of the communal house where the vanua or the tribe/oceanians assemble in the different situations in life.

She spoke glowingly about her time at USP which included memories of an effective group of student leaders, Professor Frank Brosnahan’s English classes, Dr James Maraj’s leadership right through to Mr Savenaca Siwatibau and Professor Anthony Tarr’s time.

She highlighted that USP is renowned in the Pacific for its international quality of its degrees, distance education, and its nature in influencing other networks.

(From L-R): Mr Iosefa Maiava, Dr Cresantia Koya-Vaka’uta, Dr Nacanieli Rika, Professor Unaisi Walu Nabobo Baba, Professor Derrick Armstrong and Professor Randolph Thaman.

Professor Baba further emphasised that, over the years, USP has done very well in three (3) models including:

  • Engagement model;
  • Regional innovations systems model; and
  • Entrepreneurship model.

Professor Baba, who spoke as part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education’s (FALE) Seminar Series for the 50th Anniversary Celebration on 7 March 2018, envisioned that in the next fifty (50) years, there should be an increase in women leaders in the University, especially from Melanesia region.

“In the next fifty (50) years, there should also be professors in every department in USP that are from the region,” Professor Baba further mentioned.

Professor Randolph Thaman, another speaker at the Seminar talked about USP’s role in promoting culturally and environmentally sustainable development in the Pacific and beyond.

He said that USP and in particular the Oceania Centre of Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies’ (OCACPS) role in cultural promotion has and will continue to play a key role through teaching and learning, research and community service to promote environmentally and culturally sustainable island and ocean development.

Professor Thaman provided examples of USP staff, students, disciplines, agencies and initiatives that have, over the past fifty (50) years, successfully championed education, applied research and community service as a basis for building true synergies and partnerships for Education for Sustainable Island and Ocean Development.

Professor Thaman is one of the University’s longest serving academic staff member having joined the University in February 1974.

Furthermore, another invited speaker at the Seminar, Mr Iosefa Maiava, Head of the ESCAP Pacific Operations Centre (EPOC) talked about education as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

Mr Maiava suggested greater involvement by USP in the SDGs and Pacific Roadmap as these are the main development paradigms that, in his view, are going to help define and track future educational outcomes.

The FALE Seminar Series has been named after a seminal essay titled, “Our Sea of Islands” by the late Professor Epeli Hau’ofa, a renowned Pacific scholar and founding director of the then Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture.

This news item was published on 20 Mar 2018 12:50:16 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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