The University of the South Pacific (USP) marked the end of its 50th year Anniversary celebration with a dinner at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on 14 December 2018.
Those who attended included His Excellency (H.E) Jioji Konrote, President of Fiji with the First Lady; Winston Thompson, Pro Chancellor and Chair of the 50th Anniversary Steering Committee; Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP; Vice Chancellor Designate, Prof. Pal Ahluwalia; Honourable Ministers including Hon Ashneel Sudhakar, Minister for Lands & Mineral Resources; H.E Mr John Feakes, Australian High Commissioner to Fiji; H.E Mr Jonathan Curr, New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji; Excellencies and members of the Diplomatic Corps; Members of Regional and International Organisations; Senior Fijian Government Officials; Members of the University Council and Senate and Committees; Members of the USP Senior Management Team and Staff of the University; Alumni of USP and distinguished guests.
In his welcome address, Mr Thompson thanked all those who assisted with the planning and delivery of the 50th Anniversary celebration, together with all who participated and attended the year-long events and activities.
“Throughout the 50th Anniversary programme, the role of USP as a promoter and preserver of Pacific culture was highly evident,” he stated.
This he said, included many local indigenous performers and artisans on show during “Moments to Shine” and several significant performances and exhibitions here at the Laucala Campus.
“The support of the Oceania Centre for Arts and Pacific Studies (OCACPS) was instrumental in the delivery of a very diverse cultural programme which also incorporated challenging discussions regarding the role of USP moving forward.
In addition, the five-day Heritage & Arts Festival in July brought together a broad range of cultural themes including; contemporary and traditional fashion designers, student performers, local community artists and culminated with the completion of the 50th Anniversary Mural which is now proudly on permanent display in the Japan – Pacific ICT Centre here in Suva.
“While I cannot cover all 50 events here, tonight, the lasting legacy of the Royal New Zealand Airforce Commemorative Monument at the new entrance to the main campus of USP together with the 50th Anniversary book so ably authored by Dr Jacqui Leckie, will constantly remind us all of the significance of 2018 to the University,” he stated.
Professor Chandra especially acknowledged H.E Konrote saying his presence as Chief Guest was fitting because he had launched the 50th Anniversary celebrations on 5 February.
USP of today he stated, would be unrecognisable to the founders and early leaders and staff; such has been the transformation of USP.
“In terms of enrolment, we have grown from 116 in 1968 to over 32,000 now with recent rates of enrolment growth that would be the envy of most universities.
“We can say that USP is now a university of esteem that our founders wanted to see USP become. It has published almost 8, 300 publications, with almost 2500 ranked publications. It has 27 international accreditations, and 15 international recognitions,” he said.
He highlighted that the achievement of WASC Senior Commission on Universities and Colleges (WSCUC) accreditation as a University accreditation has also propelled USP onto the global stage with it now being recognised as having the same quality as American institutions that have been rigorously assessed as meeting stringent American standards.
“As we reflect on the University, we believe USP is probably the most unique and complex organisation among universities globally; perhaps the most inspiring in its mission; it is now a globally recognised university,” he stated.
“USP has proudly discharged the mandate of both tertiary education, pathways and skills training, and continues to work with other regional organizations and governments to promote regional co-operation and integration. It is in the forefront of universities in achieving the integration of its vision, mission, strategic and annual planning, resource allocation aligned to the strategic plan, and effective monitoring and reporting,” he commented.
According to Professor Chandra, it is a University in the midst of the largest ocean of the world that holds the future of the world in its hands as a carbon sink and source of food, peace, serenity and sustainability.
“It is a university fired with its own confidence that it is on its way to becoming one of the world’s great universities in the best traditions of universities but one that continues to produce Pacific Islanders equally competent and confident in the world of the internet and artificial intelligence and in their own traditions and cultures,” he said.
USP he added, is certainly at its peak in its 50-year journey, poised and well prepared for the second half of its forthcoming century.
Professor Chandra also highlighted some of the major achievements for the decade including:
- Increase of 73% in full time equivalent students between 2008 and 2018, with enrolment in headcounts moving from 19,000 to just over 32,000 now;
- About 58 percent of the entire qualifications issued by the university in its 50 years were given in the last decade;
- About 63 percent of all publications and 73% of ranked publications were produced in this period;
- All international accreditations and international recognitions; and
- All 8 innovation patents filed were in the last four years
In his keynote address, H.E Konrote congratulated USP for reaching its 50th milestone, saying he had been part of the commemoration for a good part during his tenure as Chancellor and that it had been a huge success.