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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Vice Chancellor's Dinner Speech 31 Jan 2016

Ambassador of Japan HE Matumoto, Ambassador of the European Union, HE Giogkarakis-Argyropoulos, Governor of Jiwaka Dr. Tangamp, Colonel Wrakonei (Commanding Officer  Joint Services Academy), Invited Guests, Representatives of so many business houses, Chancellor Sir Nagora Bogan, Council Members (Judd, Wissink, Worthington, McClay, and Bidang), Students, Professors, Faculty, Staff, all friends and partners of UNITECH,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Overview of 2015

First of all, on behalf of UNITECH's management team we like to welcome you all to this second Vice Chancellor's dinner, which we hold before the opening of the academic year. My wife Paulina (also representing Buk Bilong Pikinini) and I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very healthy, happy and productive new year, and wish you all the best in 2016.

I thank you all for your support last year, with special thanks to our Chancellor Sir Nagora Bogan, the private sector – our graduate's employer as well as our university's essential suppliers – and our many foreign partners, represented here by Ambassador of Japan and the European Union.

For our University, 2015 was a difficult year, because in June the government threatened to take away almost half of the operational funding (for 20I5). They did this for all universities, and most other state agencies. As a result, all Vice Chancellor went into crisis management mode, but fortunately this did not occur in the end.

The Second Vice Chancellor's Dinner and Looking Forward to 2016

Nothing is as revolutionary, as introducing people to each other. Today's dinner, brings together our Chancellor, and our Lae based external Council members, with our suppliers (and)private sector partners, and our international guests.

I hope tonight's dinner will lead to all kinds of wonderful and unexpected plans and activities. A university must be a meeting place where public issues can be discussed without fear, where different stakeholders can meet, and where competitors can negotiate, in an atmosphere in which ideas are more important than interests.

Tomorrow, I will open the academic year with my speech of about hald an hour, but I would like to share with you a shorter preview. The coming year, as with the beginning of every year, we can look at the dark clouds that may blow out way or we can focus on the sun behind the clouds. UNITECH chooses the latter.

At UNITECH we now have a game plan and a leadership team with our council's support, that will continue to drive the transformation of this great university, streamlines is processes, and rebuild its organization. The cornerstones of our strategy are:
  1. ICT 
  2. Closeness to industry 
  3. Internationalization 
Ad 1- We are developing, using, and innovating all ICT in our operations, teaching and research activities.

Examples: online registration, laptops for all incoming students with open source software, as well as being the first university in the world to use O3B, broadband internet through satellite, fibre from the sky.

Ad 2- We want to create an even closer relationship with the private sector, in particular in Lae. Over the last year, the way the companies have stepped up to help us and partner with us, has been truly amazing. Our trusted suppliers have helped us rationalize and reduce costs, understanding our special situation (cash flow) and status (tax exempt), and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are members of the Chambers of Mining and Petroleum in Port Moresby and the Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lae, and we promise that will be more active members.

Ad 3- Internationalization has been the cornerstone of our strategic redirection. We have transformed ourselves from an inward to an outward looking university. This has helped tremendously with improving our academic quality but also our operations.

As to our academic quality, we are on track to acquire provisional accreditation for our engineering and support programs following the Washington Accords. With support of ExxonMobil, we have a Quality Assessment Team and External Assessors, who are assisting our university in this regard.

Regarding our operations, we now need to begin a major reorganization, hopefully including a long overdue but necessary salary review. We need support in the rehabilitation of our laboratories, most of which have not received a major upgrade since they were founded several decades ago.

We extend an invitation to all our stakeholders and partners to work with us and help us achieve our goals. This year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary, our Golden Jubilee, and there will be countless opportunities during which we can meet and develop joint activities:
  • 31 March: our 2nd Chancellor's dinner with Council Members, and on 1 April our 48th graduation. After approval of our Masterplan in November, we will launch the 3D computer models of the new buildings on campus.
  • 27 May: Our 50th Dies Natalis (birthday), followed by a family fun day. We will launch the UNITECH Golden Jubilee documentary, made by Bao Waiko and his team.
  • 7-10 June:  UNITECH's Golden Jubilee "Science, Technology and Industry" Conference for researchers and industry,
  • 10 June: University Open Day for Businesses and Students,
  • 22 July: Students' Peace and Leadership Conference on Remembrance Day, 
  • 26-27: August Career Fair for Businesses and Graduating Students
  • 3-5 October: Postgraduate Seminar, (we run the largest postgraduate research program in the country)
  • 8-10 November: PNG with NARI National Research Science and Technology Conference. 
Your help will be reciprocated. We have the best sport facilities and the largest conference facilities in town. In June and in November we offer numerous short courses to help upskill your personnel. Our students are available for industrial training. You can participate in departmental advisory committees to help update the curriculum.

Through our international network, for example, we are able for example to import 1-2 containers per year in hospital equipment for our community clinic, soon to be an urban hospital. We get up to date information on all kinds of technologies, solar energy, water management, and ICT (networking, software, and hardware). We develop innovative new technologies and systems, and we strive to make this information accessible and publicly available.

Finally, some of you have asked, and what about the Rainforest Habitat (RFH), our zoo containing all PNG iconic species? We have just appointed a new manager, Kari Jamba, who is very passionate about raising its services and displays to an international standard. For those who love tree kangaroos, we have great news, the RFH team are playing 'cupid' by putting the make and female tree kangaroo's together and we're hoping for a baby in June...very exciting.

We want to thank the private sponsors (Tablebirds, Zenag, iPi, Puma Energy, and many others) who never gave up on our RFH, and who continued to provide feed for the various animals. I can assure you UNITECH will continue to support it wholeheartedly. The RFH is after all our greatest tourist attraction in Lae, and a wonderful PR asset for our university.

Thank you, and enjoy the rest of the evening.

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