Remarks at the Dinner Following the University of the South Pacific Graduation Ceremony for the Laucala Campus- September 2017.
September 22, 2017 USP Oceania Centre for Arts Culture and Pacific Studies, Suva.
The Pro-Chancellor & Chair of Council, Ambassador Winston Thompson;
The Vice-Chancellor and President of Council, Professor Rajesh Chandra;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
The Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Vice-President, Deans, Executive Directors and Staff of the University;
Distinguished Guests and supporters of the University;and
Ladies and gentlemen .
Good evening to you all.
Thank you for bearing with our recent arrival.
I needed to demonstrate Fiji’s commitment to our relationship with the People’s Republic of China by attending China’s National Day celebrations before coming to this evening special dinner.
My wife Sarote and I are deeply honoured to join you all this evening at a dinner to commemorate the successful hosting of the Laucala Campus graduation for 2017.
In fact, I am particularly honoured to represent Fiji as Chancellor of the University, especially so that we are heading into the University’s 50th Anniversary next year.
I shall come back to this later.
For now, I wish to offer my unreserved gratitude and appreciation to the Pro-Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and to all the Senior Management Team and Staff, and the supporters of the University.
To say that you have all worked exceptionally hard over the past years to grow the University could be an understatement.
The fact that we have an average of a thousand students graduating in each graduation ceremony at the Laucala Campus alone in recent years, is a reflection of the University’s popularity and growth.
This is not even counting the graduating numbers in the other regional campuses.
It is also not counting the significant infrastructural developments in all the countries where the University has now established itself.
I consider it a distinct honour and privilege that I will be able to visit some of the campuses during my tenure as Chancellor.
This evening, however, I wanted to acknowledge the University’s substantial contribution to our region’s intellectual capacity and the skills-set of our peoples.
I believe that our region’s aspirations to advance socially, culturally, economically and politically – in fact, in all aspects of life - may just remain a dream without high quality tertiary education.
You have ensured over the years that the University of the South Pacific not only remains relevant in the ever-changing demands for higher quality education, but that it actually leads the way in this endeavour.
I am confident that many countries in the region and their respective Governments consider USP as THE University of choice as they seek to improve life for their people now, and well into the future.
So, I speak on this occasion not only in my capacity as the new Chancellor of the University, but as Fiji’s Head of State, to convey our region’s collective gratitude for the work that you have all done and continue to perform.
Both the Pro-Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor mentioned how grateful they were, that it was now Fiji’s turn to take on the Chancellorship of the University especially as we head into the University’s 50th Anniversary.
I think I am more excited, equally humbled and honoured that I should be the Chancellor on this historical occasion!
So, I look forward to working with the University over the next few months not only to celebrate how far we have come as a region, but more importantly to also help lay the foundation for another resoundingly successful journey ahead.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, please accept once again Government’s and all Fijians’ profound appreciation for the University’s contribution towards the tremendous improvement to national life throughout the region since its establishment almost five decades ago.
And thank you also for hosting a very successful graduation today.
May Almighty God continue to shower his blessings on all our peoples now, and the generations to come.