Date set for USP Council meeting, validity of VC’s suspension on agenda
Students from USP’s Marshall Islands campus stand their ground for good governance to prevail. Picture: PYLOTs/USPSA
By GERALDINE PANAPASA and JARED KOLI
THE University of the South Pacific Council is expected to conduct a virtual meeting on Friday to determine whether the Executive Committee’s recent decision to suspend Vice-Chancellor Pal Ahluwalia was valid.
And according to USP’s incoming Chancellor Lionel Aingimea, the Council would also determine whether the suspension would be overturned.
Mr Aingimea had earlier indicated a Council meeting be held tomorrow, however, a statement released today and addressed to Pro-Chancellor Winston Thompson set the highly-anticipated gathering for later this week.
While the time, place or additional items on the agenda are not known at this stage, Mr Aingimea acknowledged the arranged meeting by Mr Thompson for Friday, June 19.
“The education of our students is a matter of vital importance to all regional leaders. USP is a very important regional institution and it is essential that all parties come together to consider its future,” said the President for Nauru, who has been vocal about the impasse at USP.
“The University is owned by the member countries for the benefit of the people and the needs and wellbeing of the communities of the South Pacific.”
Mr Aingimea also claimed Mr Thompson had failed in his duty as Pro-Chancellor to report to Council on the decision processes adopted by the EC to suspend Prof Ahluwalia, pending an investigation into allegations of material misconduct on June 8.
Speaking to the media last week, Mr Thompson said the University’s statutes and ordinances to govern the discipline of the VC gave them the mandate to act on behalf of the full Council, noting that the investigation of material misconduct against the VC was a separate issue and in no way linked to the log of allegations of financial mismanagement against past management put forth to the Council by Prof Ahluwalia in March last year.
“This investigation of the VC, which was the subject of the meeting on Monday, is a different thing completely. These are allegations of misdemeanors, material misconduct that the current VC has been responsible for since he has been in office,” Mr Thompson had said.
He had said the terms of the EC was to take action when it seemed there was something serious taking place at the University and by mandate, the EC was not required to consult the whole membership of the council.
Several Pacific leaders have expressed concern over the USP saga, many calling on the Council to convene an urgent meeting to resolve the issues amid staff and student demonstrations for good governance, accountability and transparency to prevail.