NEWS

Professor Derrick Armstrong Appointed As Acting Vice-Chancellor Of University Of The South Pacific

His appointment was authorised by Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the USP Council, Winston Thompson in a press statement.
10 Jun 2020 11:40
Professor Derrick Armstrong Appointed As Acting Vice-Chancellor Of University Of The South Pacific
Commanding Officer Totogo, Superintendent of Police Meli Sateki (right), at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Campus in Suva on June 9, 2020. Photo: Ashna Kumar

 

Professor Derrick Armstrong has been appointed to act as the University of the South Pacific Vice-Chancellor and President until the outcome of an investigation of Professor Pal Ahluwalia is determined.

Professor Pal is alleged to have breached university policies and procedures.

Professor Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, International and Innovation, has been with the University since 2016.

His appointment was authorised by Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the USP Council, Winston Thompson in a press statement.

An hour earlier, Aloma Johansson, Deputy Pro-Chancellor of the USP Council had issued a statement that the Executive Committee of Council, which met to decide important issues facing the University between Council meetings, met in a Special Session on Monday, June 8, 2020.

“The agenda included papers related to alleged material misconduct by the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

“After consideration, the Executive Committee resolved that:

“1. An independent investigation into the allegations be conducted;

“2. The Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia be suspended from duties on pay, and without withdrawal of privileges;

“3. An Acting Vice-Chancellor and President be appointed in the interim by the Council to manage the affairs of the University.”

Small but vocal groups of staff and students in campuses in Suva, Labasa and Lautoka protested in support of Professor Pal yesterday.

Students who were interviewed in Lautoka and Labasa had no idea what the allegations directed at Professor Pal were.

But they said he was very approachable.

At the Laucala campus in Suva, a few students and staff during the 1 pm to 2 pm lunch break had gathered in front of the library to protest.

By this time, a senior Police officer was present and issued a verbal warning to those present. Commanding Officer Totogo, Superintendent of Police Meli Sateki, said: “Can I just remind you, that you will require a permit to continue to protest.”

Staff representative Elizabeth Fong said she did not think it was right for Police to be present at the university.

“I am supporting Professor Pal. He is a strong man,” she said.

“He has very strong faith. And I think we all understand what faith does for us and that is keeping him strong.

“We believe that he needs to go through a just and fair process. We don’t think the process has been just and fair.”

Chair and President of the University student association Joseph Sua said students would boycott classes, exams, and other activities should the council fail to act on their concerns.

Meanwhile, the President of Nauru and incoming Chancellor of the university Lionel Aingimea said the institution has been hijacked and declared that he would immediately seek the support of Council colleagues to call a special Council meeting as a matter of urgency.

Calling yesterday’s decision to stand down Professor Pal “a sad day in the history of this esteemed institution,” Mr Aingimea said, “the very individuals responsible for carrying out good governance have failed this great university.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedbackashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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