USP Chancellor, His Excellency Taneti Maamau, President of the Republic of Kiribati presents Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt).
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Alafua Campus in Samoa had a successful graduation ceremony on 7 December 2018 where ninety three (93) students graduated with certificates, diplomas and degrees.
Fifty four per cent (54%) of those who graduated were women. Sixty nine per cent (69%) of the students graduated with Undergraduate degrees, six per cent (6%) with Professional Diplomas, six per cent (6%) with Postgraduate Diplomas, five per cent (5%) graduated with Masters degrees and thirteen per cent (13%) from Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE) Programmes.
A highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) to Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa.
In his address, Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President said that this honour is richly deserved by Hon. Mata’afa, because of her outstanding service and achievements.
“As someone who has had the privilege of working closely with you both as Pro-Chancellor and also as Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, I am delighted that we are honouring you in this manner today during our 50th Anniversary year,” Professor Chandra said.
Together with this, Professor Chandra congratulated the other graduates for their fine achievement and wished them well for their future endeavours.
In addition, he highlighted that USP has produced around 1,506 Samoan alumni from 1968 to 2018, which is 3.2% of all the alumni that USP has and at the same time, 2,001 qualifications have been awarded to Samoan students since 1968.
Furthermore, Professor Chandra thanked the Government and people of Samoa for their very strong contributions to the development of USP ever since its establishment in 1968.
In addition to providing Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors, including the first Pro-Chancellor of the University, Professor Chandra acknowledged that Samoa has also provided a Vice-Chancellor, Afionga Esekia Solofa under whom Professor Chandra was privileged to serve as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
“So Samoa has been a large part of the University’s success that we celebrate during our 50th Anniversary,” he said.
Part of the graduates at the University’s Alafua Campus in Samoa.
Talking about the Alafua Campus achievements, he highlighted that ten (10) staff of the School of Agriculture and Food Technology (SAFT) published thirty two (32) research and other papers in 2018, with six (6) in the area of Crops, eight (8) in the area of Soil, five (5) in the area of Livestock, two (2) in the area of Agribusiness and five (5) publications were in Books or Newsletters.
Moving on, Professor Chandra informed that fifty (50) teachers who are currently undertaking the second Science Teachers Accelerated Programme (STAP) are doing their 300 level courses and are earmarked to complete their required courses by semester 2, 2019.
“STAP has been one of the major programme delivery successes of the University, pioneered by Associate Professor Bibhya Sharma and his team, and marked by a very strong partnership between regional Governments and the University,” he remarked.
The campus has also seen record Undergraduate and Postgraduate enrolments in the Agriculture Programme in recent years.
In 2018 there are four (4) PhD students in Agriculture, 12 students in Master of Agriculture and 27 students in Postgraduate Diploma in Agriculture.
In terms of connectivity, the Vice-Chancellor and President noted that the Alafua Campus is now connected to the new submarine fibre cable through Bluesky for all internet and intranet services, resulting in faster and more stable Internet speed and better access to online courses and services for students and staff.
In terms of the University’s broader achievements, Professor Chandra informed that the University is now almost at the end of the last year of the University’s Strategic Plan and have successfully achieved 84% of what it set out to achieve.
The new Strategic Plan for 2019 – 2024 was approved by the November Council and will now guide the University in the next six (6) years with a mid-term review.
In moving his words of farewell during his final graduation as the Vice-Chancellor and President, an emotional Professor Chandra thanked the staff of Alafua, SAFT, IRETA and the Savaii Centre, and all staff from Laucala who have contributed to the success of the Campus.
“The success of the University is a team effort, so I also thank the University Council and its Committees, Senate and its committees, my Senior Management Team, staff and students for their continued support towards transforming and reforming USP from a good to an excellent University,” Professor Chandra said.
He also extended his sincere gratitude to Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, for his sound, wise and strong leadership and for his support and guidance and wished him well as he takes the governance of the University forward with the transition in leadership in management.
At the same time, Professor Chandra also wished the incoming Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia the best as he takes the helm of the University from 1 January next year.
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