The University of the South Pacific has appointed Pal Ahluwalia as its new vice-chancellor and president.
The professor will take up the new role in November 2018. This will allow for a smooth transition and handover process from USP’s current Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra, whose term comes to an end in December 2018.
Professor Chandra served as USP’s Vice-Chancellor and President for a maximum term of ten years.
Professor Ahluwalia is currently the Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom.
The appointment came after a decision made during the 86th Council meeting of the University in Nauru.
Professor Ahluwalia was selected for this position after a rigorous and thorough selection process by the University’s Joint Committee of Council and Senate.
He has a PhD in Politics from Flinders University and a Master and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.
According to USP Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Winston Thompson, the new Vice-Chancellor brings to USP credentials and experience, which would make him a strong applicant for a Vice-Chancellor’s position anywhere in the world.
“Professor Ahluwalia shows a great understanding of USP and articulated a compelling vision for its future; he emphasised the importance of advancing the interests of member nations,” Mr Thompson said.
Mr Thompson added that Professor Ahluwalia has extensive experience in providing strategic leadership and management through undertaking the roles of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC): Academic, PVC: Research and Innovation and PVC: Global Engagement. These have required the development and realisation of a strategic vision, implementing key policies and effective decision making that depend on forging successful relationships with many stakeholders and especially building and strengthening effective teams.
In his current position, Professor Ahluwalia is responsible for promoting a strong research and innovation culture across the University of Portsmouth with continuous improvement in the volume, quality and impact of the University’s research and enterprise outputs and partnerships.
Professor Ahluwalia is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He is also the recipient of many grants throughout his career and has supervised a great deal of PhD students to completion at the University of Adelaide, University of California, San Diego, Goldsmiths University of London and the University of South Australia.
His main research interests lie in the areas of African studies, social and cultural theory, in particular, post-colonial theory and the processes of diaspora, exile, migration, and the complexities of identity formation. He is the sole author of five books, co-author or editor of a further nine, editor of three journals, and author or co-author of countless book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers, many as an invited keynote speaker.
In 2008, Professor Ahluwalia was appointed a UNESCO Chair in Transnational Diasporas and Reconciliation Studies. In 2015, he was awarded the status of an Eminent Scholar by the International Studies Association.
In accepting his role as USP’s new Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Ahluwalia said “the opportunity to undertake the role of Vice-Chancellor and President at USP is enormously exciting as it is a position that would be a privilege and an honour to hold. I am passionate about education in the broadest sense of the word and the potential that the role offers is one that I will relish.”
Professor Ahluwalia said that the fundamentals at USP as the premier regional university serving the Pacific Islands are in place with a sound financial foundation.
“USP in the next phase of its development will need to continue to build on its reputation as a significant research University that has the potential to change the lives of the inhabitants of the region. The groundwork has been laid through its Strategic Plan underpinned by the goal of moving from “good to excellent,” he highlighted.
Professor Ahluwalia believes that USP has a real opportunity to become a truly world-class institution by building upon the promise of its mission and values. Its excellence must be celebrated and widely publicised so that it becomes the University of choice in the region.
Professor Rajesh Chandra welcomed the appointment of his successor, adding that Professor Ahluwalia’s extensive international career of achievement in higher education with pervasive experience as an academic makes him an outstanding candidate to lead USP especially as the University looks forward to greater achievements in higher education in the Pacific region.
“I am sure that the University community will provide Professor Ahluwalia with their utmost support and partnership to enable the University to successfully deliver it new Strategic Plan 2019-2024,” Professor Chandra said.