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USP farewells Dr Esther Williams

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USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Esther Williams during her farewell ceremony at the Laucala Campus on 26 August, 2014.

Staff of The University of the South Pacific bid farewell to Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Esther Williams after 42 long years of service.

A large number of staff representing sections and departments, student leaders, and members of Council and Senate gathered at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies performance area to bid a warm farewell to Dr Williams on 26 August, 2014.

The function included a farewell speech from USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra and a response from DVC Williams.

Dr. Williams, who completed her term on 31 August, had joined the University in 1972 as a graduate trainee in the library and had risen through the ranks to become the University Librarian, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and subsequently the substantive Deputy Vice-Chancellor and served in this role for nine years.

“Dr. Williams had also taken on the responsibility for being Acting Vice-Chancellor after the departure of the previous Vice-Chancellor and had steered the University from 2006 to mid-2008 when I took up my position,” Professor Chandra said.

“There is no doubt that Dr. Williams had served the University very well. She was always prepared to heed the call for service, and showed exemplary dedication and commitment to the University. Institutions are built through service of this kind, and the University was very grateful to Dr. Williams for this contribution,” he noted.

“Dr Williams had also been very valuable to me when I took over as Vice-Chancellor and President in July 2008. She was always loyal and supportive and always responded to requests to take on additional responsibilities. She had also helped many new members of Senior Management Team settle into their roles,” Professor Chandra said.

“Dr. Williams leaves the University with our deep gratitude and with our very best wishes. I hope that she will remain connected with us in some capacity,” he said.

In 1972 Dr Williams started her career at USP as a Graduate Trainee in the USP Library. She climbed up the ranks in the Library to the topmost position of University Librarian which was a position she held for 23 years from 1981 to 2004.

CFL staff prepare to sing a farewell song for Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Esther Williams during a ceremony organised jointly by the Library, CFL and ITS staff on 29 August, 2014.

While still the University Librarian she held other key positions such as Pro Vice-Chancellor (1988 to 1990) and Acting Director, Planning and Development (2001 to 2003).

Dr Williams was appointed to the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2005 and has been at that level for 9 years until now.

In 2006 Dr Williams was appointed Acting Vice-Chancellor by the Council.

Dr Williams has dedicated much of her time to USP.

Professor Chandra said she has been a driving force in projects including i) converting the hangar which housed the School of Natural Resources to the new Marine Studies Building working with the Government of Japan and Fiji Government; ii) The new FSTE building gifted to the USP by the Government of Canada; iii) The USP Library Building working with AusAID and Australian Architects; and iv) Working with the Roads Authority of Fiji to improve the Laucala Bay Road in front of USP.

He said this was a key achievement for Dr Williams as it took many years before something was accomplished. 

Dr Williams mentioned that USP has been her family for many years.

“I leave the University of the South Pacific 31st August 2014 after almost 42 years of service to the University and to the Pacific region. It has really been a rewarding and wonderful experience and I wish to let you know how much I appreciate the time I have had working with you all,” Dr. Williams said.

“I will always be grateful for the many friends I have made along the way, including former Vice Chancellors and colleagues I have worked with. I take with me the wonderful memories of those who have left us and those still with us. I thank the University Council and regional governments for giving me this opportunity. Most of all, I thank the University Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra for his kind words, his support and friendship,” she said.

“In the past week, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to say good bye to many colleagues, students and friends. I have loved my work, the region and have relished the camaraderie and atmosphere at the University and various other levels of engagement from our senior management team, staff, students to the cleaners and grounds staff, and will miss each of you dearly,” she added.

Dr Williams said that the main challenge for her “has always been the ability to manouvre and the strength to ensure that the University continues and survives in difficult financial and political times. Since the Fiji political crises in 1987, other crises faced by our member countries, and internal crises faced by the University in 2006, the fact that the University is still here stronger than ever before is testimony to the leadership and type of people we have in the University and our member countries”.

Over the years, Dr Williams has been involved in many projects that have transformed  the Laucala Campus from what it was in 1972 of old RNZAF Base buildings to what it is today of a modern University. 

Dr. Williams was presented a gift from the University as a small token of appreciation for her enormous contributions.

She presented two gifts to the University.

“In presenting her gifts DVC Williams reflected her usual generous nature. Dr Williams has been an asset to USP. We will miss a great friend and colleague. We wish DVC Williams a very happy retirement and long and healthy life ahead,” Professor Chandra added.

This news item was published on 1 Sep 2014 02:48:32 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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