Office of the Vice-Chancellor



Moving Forward Together: The Start of Semester 1, 2013 and the Implementation of the Strategic Plan 2013-2018

Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President

Message to All USP Staff from Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President

Welcome

On behalf of the Senior Management Team (SMT) and the University community, I am pleased to welcome all staff back for the start of the first semester of 2013. I wish to extend a special welcome to new members of staff.  It is good to see all the students and staff back now, and the University bustling with activities.

With the last Strategic Plan being implemented very well, and the University having been turned around in a very demonstrable manner from finances to quality, from increased number of professors to increased regional and international engagement, and from concerns about the future of the University to confidence and excitement, this year marks the first year of the new, bolder, more ambitious Strategic Plan 2013-2018.

The first two months of the year give every indication that this will also be a very successful year and I hope that all of us will contribute strongly to excellent outcomes this year.

Importance of Staff

I have always maintained that the University can only be as good as its staff. We are pleased that our staff members were fully behind the last SP and we can already see that they are very positive about the new SP.

We are already making efforts to make sure that staff are strongly engaged in the awareness of the SP, are given support and encouragement, and rewarded to when they perform well. We have already incentivised many aspects of our operations and much more incentivising will occur as we proceed with the new SP.

The Executive Director of Human Resources will be sending communications on the major initiatives in this area, but I want to mention the talent development and management programme that should ensure that the University’s staff have opportunities to grow and develop themselves and demonstrate excellence in all that we do.

When you joined USP, you entered into a partnership with it.  That partnership is designed to be mutually beneficial, and contributes to the fulfilment of the University’s mission to deliver the best quality tertiary education to the Pacific Island region.  The partnership between USP, as an institution belonging to 12 Pacific Island Countries, and its staff is perhaps the University’s most important partnership.  The University and its employees share risks and rewards; indeed, the more the University grows and flourishes, the more its staff will benefit. 

The Context of Our Work

The most important internal activity of Semester 1, 2013 is the start of Strategic Plan 2013-2018 implementation.  I urge all staff members to re-read the SP to ensure a deep understanding of the importance of everyone’s work to its success.  I look forward to celebrating the efforts of all staff toward its implementation, and to observing the myriad ways that staff will incorporate its priorities and key themes into their daily business.  As with the previous SP, we will use the Strategic Plan Online Monitoring System to ensure that progress is made consistently and according to the timelines that have been agreed to. 

There are many significant social, political, and economic developments taking place in the region. The Pacific Plan is being reviewed.  We may be called on to provide assistance, support, and research to our member countries. We need to respond to any such requests in a prompt and positive manner.  There will be significant regional and CROP meetings at which USP will likely play an important part. We all have to prepare well for th

Building Community, Cohesion and Connections Across the University

As the University’s regional nature grows in prominence, it is essential that we all feel a strong sense of community and enjoy and maximize the opportunities we have to learn from one another.  We are a highly diverse and accomplished group with a wealth of experience and varied perspectives.  We can offer more to our region by pursuing more multi-disciplinary projects and by examining significant challenges from a regional perspective.  We must foster the growth of a stronger community.  Therefore, I urge you to take up all opportunities to meet with each other, in person and virtually, both in seminars and socially.

We have noticed that most conflicts at the University arise out of very simple things: lack of full professionalism, not being considerate of others, lack of simple courtesy, and disregard for the legitimate rights and responsibilities of others. Please think of others ahead of yourself, and give others the benefit of doubt that you would wish would be given to you.

University Values

Great institutions are founded on great and inspiring values that permeate the everyday life of these institutions. SP 2013-2018 has revised our values and I suggest that every member of staff internalize these values, given on p.18. These values have been printed as bookmarks and are being distributed to all members of the University community.

Staff recruitment, induction, development, and rewards will all be filtered through these values.

Challenges and Our Response

Five years ago USP was in a very bad situation.  There were a lot of whispers about USP’s sagging fortunes and a great deal of negative coverage in the media.  The University did not seem to have enough money to survive.  Poor management and unwise decisions had lost USP the confidence of its members and stakeholders.  Five years is not that long ago.

I mention those troubled times to provide a startling contrast with our present: we are proud of USP today; we are now widely seen as an example of success, and have accordingly enhanced our mission statement to include the provision of leadership as an exemplar institution.  If we can transform the dire situation of just five years ago so dramatically, surely we can achieve the vision of the Strategic Plan 2013-2018. 

The Strategic Plan will create a university that champions the Pacific and its potential.  There will be those who will doubt our ability or resolve to achieve all that the Strategic Plan sets out to do; every group has its pessimists and detractors.  I am confident that those doubters will become convinced as they reflect more and honestly take account of concrete evidence of achievement.  Let us rely on our reserve of strength, our Pacific resilience, and our sense of positivism to build on what we have achieved in the last five years, and truly shape USP into the excellent institution that this region deserves.  This can be done provided we support each other as colleagues and as friends as we seek to deliver sustainable results in the most efficient manner. 

Support

The success of the Strategic Plan rests with the USP staff.  Time and time again, we are complimented on the diligence and dedication of USP staff; from Security staff who impress visiting dignitaries, to the instructors who fully engage their students, to the administrative staff whose patience, good humour, and willingness to work long hours at crucial times of the year relieves and calms anxious students.   I appreciate your commitment and that of all USP staff. 

It is important for you to know that USP is just as committed to you.  Your wellbeing and satisfaction at work are important to USP.  Therefore, I urge you to keep well, to set a positive example with your healthy lifestyle, and to effectively manage any stress by talking with the staff here at USP who are trained to provide support.  Counselling and medical services are available through the Medical Centre and the strictest confidence is maintained.  It is important that USP is a healthy workplace and a good example.

Quality Audit and Accreditation

Following the 2008 Quality Audit, we are required to have a follow-on quality audit this year. This will be undertaken by the New Zealand Quality Agency. Yesterday, a facilitator from NZQA helped us with a day-long workshop with all the key people involved in the upcoming audit for which we need to prepare our self-report by June. From all accounts it was a very successful start to the formal process of the quality audit.

The successful conduct of a positive quality audit is perhaps the most important objective of 2013 and I seek the full assistance and co-operation of all concerned.

We will also put in our application to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for American accreditation. This is a multi-year process the successful conclusion of which would see major benefits for USP.

Expectations

By the end of the first semester, it would be excellent to be able to say that we are on track or ahead of projections in terms of Strategic Plan progress.  I will be publicly recognizing those sections of the University that are most productive.

USP is the region’s university and continues to be its best.  Enrolment is growing, as reputation and profile are growing, and this is because of a collective effort.  I hope that you are motivated by the Vision of USP in 2018 that is presented such compellingly in the Strategic Plan.  I also hope that you also fully understand the crucial importance of your contribution and role to making that outstanding picture of USP a reality come our 50th anniversary.

Just as I have expectations of you, you have expectations of me.  I look forward to continuing to lead the University in this exciting period, and will direct all my energies toward collectively crafting the USP of the future, which serves its region with distinction.

I look forward to moving forward together in partnership and to achieving significant progress in 2013, progress that will give confidence to the University community that the ambitious goals of the Strategic Plan 2013-2018 will be achieved by 2018.


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