Mr Winston Thompson Pro Chancellor and Chair of the USP Council (R) hands over a gift to HE Konrote as a token of appreciation for his contribution to the University and the region.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) farewelled His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote after ending a successful term as the University’s 24th Chancellor from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, during a dinner at the Holiday Inn in Suva on 26 June. The Chancellor is the titular head of the University.
On behalf of the University, the Pro Chancellor and Chair of the USP Council Mr Winston Thompson stated that it had been a pleasure and a privilege working with him and the First Lady Mrs Sarote Konrote during his Chancellorship.
“Your Excellency responded to the call to officiate at graduations and participated at events and functions and travelled extensively in the University region and it is most fitting that you served during and launched the first half of the 50th anniversary year, Fiji being the host of the headquarters and main campus,” he stated.
According to the Pro Chancellor, the last occasion when Fiji held the Chancellorship was when the Right Hon Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara served as the 3rd Chancellor in 1977-1979, so there has been a big gap since Fiji last held the Chancellorship.
“You have always given high priority to your Chancellorship and your boundless energy in early morning walks that helped to spread the message of wellness and healthy living.
“We extend our best wishes to you and the First Lady to continued success and look forward to occasions where we can welcome you back for events to our campuses here and in the region,” he stated.
HE Konrote acknowledged the Pro Chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President and the University Council for affording Fiji the opportunity to reconnect with the University.
“As Fiji’s current President and Head of State, it has been an honour and personal pleasure to re-establish Fiji’s connections with the University at the highest diplomatic level, especially so that the last time Fiji’s Head of State became Chancellor was in the 1970s,” he stated.
He extended Fiji’s congratulations to the University for reaching a milestone 50 years saying the timing for Fiji’s reconnection with the University could not have been better.
Fiji he noted, is one of the 12 founding member nations of the University and one where the University’s largest infrastructure is located through the Laucala Campus here in Suva, in addition to the Lautoka and Labasa Campuses.
This he said, is also where the largest number of students can be found, as he had witnessed during the graduation ceremonies over the past year.
“I wish to acknowledge and commend the University for its efforts to promote and chart a pathway for higher education for the region. In the 50 years of being the flagship University of the Pacific region, USP has developed into a tertiary institution of stature with an overarching vision to achieve excellence and innovation for sustainable development of the Pacific Islands Countries,” HE Konrote said.
He noted that each of the University’s successive Strategic Plans were aimed at progressively improving the operation of the University to better serve its member countries and he is confident that the new Strategic Plan for 2019-2024 will have a robust and clearer pathway to raise the bar of excellence even higher.
“The one thing we can be grateful to the University for is its ability to educate the people in the region and beyond on the ‘how’ to cultivate their minds to contribute to their families, communities, and nation states, and increasingly, to world affairs,” he said.
HE Konrote said he personally had the greatest honour and pleasure to attend and meet many students and regional leaders during the graduation ceremonies in Tonga, Vanuatu, Nauru and here in Suva although he missed the opportunity to do the same in the Solomon Islands and Samoa twice, due to engagements as the Head of State.
“I noted a few significant points from the graduating ceremonies that I attended, that there is an increasing number of students reaching tertiary level in the Pacific and this is a very good sign for our region,” he said.
He added that, “More educated minds can only mean improved productivity for our Island Nations. It could also mean significant transformations from developing to developed countries where our people are able to improve their socio-economic status and use this as a launchpad for a brighter and promising future”.
“I also noted that female graduates are gradually outnumbering the males, also a positive sign for women in the Pacific,” he mentioned.
HE Konrote highlighted that one of the demands facing the University is to remain relevant to the region’s needs and these include addressing issues like climate change, trans-border crimes such as money laundering, drug trafficking, people smuggling, trans-national refugee migration, and illegal fishing, and among many others such as Non-Communicable Diseases.
“I hope that the University can help provide solutions to these issues through advanced curricula in a broad range of fields from science, technology, law, and humanities, to name a few,” he noted.
HE Konrote also marked the occasion by launching the Rotuman Language Programme to be offered by the School of Language, Arts and Media (SLAM).
The next Chancellor of USP will be the President of Kirbati, HE Taneti Maamau who will serve his term from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019. His installation will be done in Kiribati on 3 August 2018 during the Kiribati graduation. The rotation of the position of the Chancellor goes according to alphabetical order among USP’s 12 member countries.
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