Vice-Chancellor and President's Speech: Graduation Ceremony 2016 -  Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Vice-Chancellor and President's Speech: Graduation Ceremony 2016

Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President

1. Acknowledgements and Greetings 

The Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council of The University of the South Pacific, Mr. Winston Thompson,
Mrs. Queenie Thompson;
Members of the Judiciary
Deputy Pro Chancellor and Deputy Chair of Council, Ms. Fekitamoela ‘Utoikamau;
Honourable Ministers and Senior Officials of the Fijian Government;
Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Heads of International and Regional Organisations;
Members of Council and Senate;
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Services, Prof. Richard Coll and
Members of the USP Senior Management Team;
Graduands and their families and friends;
Colleagues, Members of Staff and students;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

2. Welcome

Welcome, Ni Sa Bula, Namaste and a very good morning to you all. 

It gives me great pleasure to join the Deputy Pro Chancellor in warmly welcoming you all to The University of the South Pacific’s first Laucala Campus Graduation ceremony for 2016.  

The graduation ceremony is the most significant and meaningful occasion in the University’s calendar for our graduands, and I would like to especially welcome our Pro Chancellor, Mr. Winston Thompson to his first graduation ceremony since he assumed office.  I also extend a very special welcome to the graduands who are here today --it is because of you that we are gathered here today. I also warmly welcome the parents, families, friends of graduands and colleagues who have joined us on this memorable occasion.

3. Tribute to Fiji 

Please allow me Pro Chancellor Sir, Ladies and Gentlemen to begin my address by conveying our heart-felt condolences to the Government and  people of Fiji for the loss of lives and sympathies for the staggering devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston.  We are extremely saddened by the loss of lives and the destruction caused by this natural disaster.  The University has worked closely with the Fijian Government in its relief and rehabilitation efforts.  So far the University has contributed $100,000 towards the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Fund, and as part of a larger effort the students association and campus life together with other sections are continuing to raise over the next few months. Faculties and Departments are also contributing through non-monetary efforts such as mobile science laboratories for affected schools and counselling services. 

4. Graduation Numbers 

Today, we have about 1606 students (1275 in April 2015) receiving certificates, diplomas and degrees from 20 different nationalities:

5. To the Graduates

A word to the graduates – Congratulations, you have done very well and deserve to celebrate today.  Graduations mark the end of one journey and the beginning of a more important journey—the journey of life. New beginnings in life are full of immense possibilities. I know that some of you may be leaving the University while some may continue at USP to undertake higher level studies.  Whatever choice you take, may I remind you of the important role that you could play as a USP graduate and alumnus.  I would like to highlight a few areas that will be useful as you further your endeavours.

First, you can become good ambassadors of the University and be role models in your respective countries and importantly live and promote a sense of high integrity and moral values.  

Second, one of the most important themes that the University is promoting is the University’s transformation for excellence.  I would challenge you to apply this principle throughout your lives.    

Finally, be grateful to your families, your sponsors – Governments and communities, your lecturers, and mentors – they have sacrificed a lot to get you to where you are today – they deserve a “big thank you”.  As you celebrate today, be grateful for all the support that you have received, and go out into the world a much better person, equipped with new knowledge and skills, willing to share and contribute to the betterment of your communities and our Pacific Island countries.

6. Significant Achievements  

Pro Chancellor Sir, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to briefly highlight a few of the University’s recent significant achievements and developments:

7. Other achievements of USP and Future Developments

8. Thanks and Appreciation 

Our efforts to maintain USP as the premier regional tertiary institution and drive towards excellence has received enormous goodwill and support from many quarters.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank our member governments, development partners, and our friends for their continuous support. I also thank the University Council and its Committees, Senate and Senior Management, staff and students for supporting me in transforming and reforming USP from good to excellent on its way to being a great  University.  Our staff have been working very hard and embracing a lot of changes and I wish to make special acknowledgement of this.

I wish to reassure our member governments that the University has strong foundations to successfully implement its Strategic Plan for transforming USP into an excellent university that is deeply engaged and makes demonstrable contributions to the development of our member countries development. 

9. A Final Word

Pro Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, a final word to the graduates–

I congratulate you all and wish you the very best in your endeavours. Much is expected of you; I have every confidence that each and every one of you will excel in your chosen paths. Be excellent ambassadors of USP and make USP proud by your strong, innovative, ethical and excellent contributions.

Vinaka Vakalevu; Dhanyavaad; Thank you.

Professor Rajesh Chandra
Vice-Chancellor & President

(23 March 2016)

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