New man at helm wants N.U.S. to be the best in Pacific

With a new Vice Chancellor at the helm, the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) is ready for a fresh start.

They are looking at "prosperous" year ahead after a rough 2019.

The N.U.S. Council Chairman, Aeau Chris Hazelman, shared the University's optimism during a press conference to officially announce the appointment of Professor Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma, as the Vice Chancellor and President of the University.

Aeau welcomed Aiono, saying they are confident he has what it takes to take N.U.S to another level.

"Now that we have a good team put forward as far as the management perspective, we now have Aiono on board, we look forward to a prosperous new year in moving the university to another level," he said.

Professor Aiono was the founding Professor at the School of Medicine for the local university and played a crucial role in setting up the medical school of N.U.S.

In his new role though, Professor Aiono has been tasked with developing all the faculties at the university.

"One of the things that we wanted to make sure that our people are aware of, naturally being the fact that he is a medical doctor, and he has taught in the schools of medicine for many years, there can be a view that may be a more favoritism towards the school of medicine," Aeau said.

"We want to make this very very clear, from a Council perspective that the Vice Chancellor is a Vice Chancellor for the whole university.

"And the university has many faculties, many branches and we want to make sure that the Vice Chancellor will be at the forefront, leading the university in developing different areas, especially areas that we know are needed for our people."

Professor Aiono will not be officially starting his role as Vice Chancellor until next year.

The Acting Vice Chancellor is Professor Silafau Sina Vaai.

In the meantime, he shared his vision for his tenure.

"My shared vision for the university is to be the best university in the Pacific," he said.

"That is a vision that can be shared and can be reached if we work very very hard in achieving it."

The new Vice Chancellor is also acutely aware there is much work to be done.

"We need to work on our programmes, we need to make sure that our programmes are accredited and are of value," he said.

"We need to make sure that our programmes are of good quality. Once we improve our programmes, we need to make sure that we engage good educators, good teachers. 

"We need to work in house, to make sure that our programmes are of good quality and perceived by students and parents and funders to be degrees that are of value and in fact better quality than anywhere else, and addressing the needs of our employers. 

"Then we can market very easily. We can market out to the region, not only to our own students here but we need to attract students from around the region. That's for the basic qualifications we've got at the moment, but also then we can start working on our post graduate programmes. 

"It is very difficult to market a product that is defective ... but once we've tied everything in-house we'll be able to deliver that and market it successfully."

Aeau also used the opportunity to acknowledge Professor Silafau for steering the University's ship during the past few months.

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