We Say: More drama at USP

The rot continues at the University of the South Pacific. As we went to print, news broke that the USP’s supreme body, the USP Council has established a team to investigate its vice chancellor and president Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

The formation of the investigative team was announced in a  letter Pro Chancellor and chair of USP Council Winston Thompson sent to Council members dated March 16 in which he wrote:

“I write to advise the Council that following legal advice and in accordance with the provisions of the ordinance to govern the discipline of the vice chancellor, and in consultation with the deputy pro vice chancellor, I have appointed a subcommittee to investigate allegations of material misconduct against vice chancellor and president Professor Pal Ahluwalia.”

The committee appointed by Thompson consists of three Fijians, Mahmood Khan (chair), Fay Yee and Semi Tukana. The fourth member is  Petunia Tupou, a Tongan lawyer.

Thompson has declined to comment to Islands Business on the letter he had sent to members of the USP Council.

“I would neither confirm nor deny,” was all he said.

The Pro-Chancellor’s letter does not specify what allegations he is making against Professor Ahluwalia, but another document he authored and sighted by Islands Business from August 2019 criticises the new Vice Chancellor for his attitude towards the induction process prepared for him, perceived disrespect for decisions made by the USP Council , public criticism of the university, “irrational decision making”, undermining of USP’s strategic plan and alleges that “staff morale plummeted and some important senior managers were sidelined from the beginning.” Thompson also refers to the decline in income suffered by the university as the result of controversy there.

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