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Traditional Welcome for New USP Vice-Chancellor and President

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Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP delivers his address.

The University of the South Pacific (USP) accorded a traditional welcome to the new Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia and Mrs Sandy Ahluwalia at the University’s Laucala Campus on 21 February, 2019.

The traditional welcome was witnessed by Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of USP Council, members of the University’s Senior Management Team (SMT) and staff and students.

In welcoming Professor and Mrs Ahluwalia to the University, Professor Richard Coll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education wished him well as he takes on the role of leading the University, adding that, “we look forward to your leadership and guidance.”

Professor Coll stated that the welcome ceremony provided a good opportunity to highlight some of his achievements, which he glowingly spoke about.

“We have already witnessed his commitment and passion towards University’s staff and students, and this is evidenced in his engagement through social media pages on Facebook and Twitter and vlogs, opening a new era of transparency for the University and management decision making,” Professor Coll said.

He added that Professor Ahluwalia is committed to promoting a culture of strong research and innovation and continues to improve the quality, volume and impact of research through seeking stronger partnerships.

He also informed the staff and students present at the welcome, that Professor Ahluwalia is an international scholar, a prolific publisher, and a sole author of four books.

Mr Jerry Siota, Deputy Chair of USP Students Association (USPSA), said that the student body pledges to support Professor Ahluwalia, to maintain and further boost the status of USP as the premier education institution in the region.

With the ever-changing environment, Mr Siota said that the student associations have to undergo transformation to remain relevant to its serving objectives and most importantly to students’ representation and advocating for student success and welfare at the University.

He shared USPSA’s plans in working to finalise its Transformative Plan 2019-2021, and also to work with various sections of the University to assist students with financial and administrative issues.

“USP is transforming and making its presence felt in the global arena, however, USP must not forget its roots, purpose and its source of identity,” Mr Siota highlighted.

He said that back in his country, secondary school students dream to attend USP, and told Professor Ahluwalia that “I am certain that these dreams and visions will come true.”

In his address, Professor Ahluwalia thanked the University for according him the traditional welcome, and added that, to him, it was a very spiritual ceremony in which he felt an overwhelming feeling of divinity.

“I would like to say how deeply appreciative and supportive both Sandy and I are, and humbled by you,” Professor Ahluwalia said.

He said that he is honoured to be asked to serve and lead USP, and commented that for him, the baseline is fantastic, whereby the University is globally ranked.

UniRank has put USP in top nine per cent (9%) of the universities globally, and Professor Ahluwalia made the commitment that he will work on bringing USP to the top five per cent (5%).

He said that he is really ambitious about working collaboratively with staff and students to take the University to new heights.

Professor Ahluwalia strongly believes in transparency and is really passionate about Pacific values.

His ambition in the next few years is to focus USP into being a student-centred University, as he highlighted that students are the reason for the University’s existence.

“I am really keen in making sure that every one of our students succeed; they have a wonderful student experience; and by the time they leave here, they can contribute to societies at large,” Professor Ahluwalia said.

Professor Ahluwalia also values the voices of students and staff and will make sure that their voices are heard.

Since assumption of his duties, Professor Ahluwalia has already made some changes in the way the University operates so as to ensure maximum inclusivity and he keen on taking the “Vuvale” approach, while calling on to his team to use this “ideal”.

“I call this an ideal, because being in an inclusive family is an ideal. Every family also has differences, but the point is that at the end, families always come together,” he said.

In addition, he provided an update of the revision of the Strategic Plan, where he will share his ideas of the University’s mission, vision and values to the University community, on which staff can give their responses in an online discussion forum to be held on 26 March.

Professor Ahluwalia replaces Professor Rajesh Chandra, whose term as the Vice-Chancellor and President came to an end in December 2018.

This news item was published on 25 Feb 2019 02:52:32 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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