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“USP History/Politics with no place for Dakuvula and Sanday, in 1986”

24/07/2016

Failure of USP History Politics to appoint good regional academics

In 1981, the three “young Turks” at USP, Vijay Naidu, Rajesh Chandra and Wadan Narsey, went off to do their PhDs, after being told that they needed PhDs to be promoted.

a 14 Jan 1985 Dakuvula and SandaybWhen we returned to USP, we found to our dismay that USP was still not appointing good regional candidates, in our School of Social and Economic Development (SSED) now Faculty of Business and Economics.

In this particular department of History/Politics, two excellent candidates (Jone Dakuvula and Reg Sanday) were not being snapped up by USP which claimed lack of funds for a department which was allegedly shrinking (still shrinking forty years later!).

 

I protested (see attached letter) to the Vice Chancellor (Dr Geoffrey Caston) and the Head of SSED (Dr Randy Thaman) both expatriates, at the lack of concern for regional applicants while expatriates kept getting renewed.

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Dr Caston’s reply, while seemingly very reasonable, indicated the extent to which the expatriate managers of USP had no regard to forward planning or the fact that excellent regional candidates were being lost to the USP pool.

The lack of finance argument was utterly ridiculous given that USP had several salary supplementation schemes where all nationals of Britain, NZ and Australia working at USP were given massively supplemented salaries (and I mean two or three times the local salaries for doing the same job as locals), at their home countries’ expense, which counted as “aid to USP”. The British for instance had BESS (British Expatriate Salary Scheme) which applied to British academics at USP.

It was unfortunately also the case at USP then, that the close-knit expatriate academic community, who not just worked together  but also socialised together, would look after “their own” rather than unimportant locals, who had no social standing with them, whatever their academic credentials and potential.

Both Jone Dakuvula and Reg Sanday have amply demonstrated their abilities and commitment to Fiji’s development over the last thirty years.

Post-script 1

Soon after, Vice Chancellor Caston co-opted me into his office to help him prepare USP’s Triennial Submission for funding for the next three years, which I did  and returned to Economics.

Geoffrey Caston and I later fell out over my defense of a young SSED academic who was alleged to have attempted to physically hit the vice chancellor at a party where all were apparently inebriated. The only other witness (an expatriate lecturer in History/Politics) wisely refused to testify, while I, who had not been there at the party, took the young academic’s word that he was merely “gesticulating” (as Indians often do), and defended him successfully. Caston was probably not enamored of me.

During the 1987 coup, Geofrey Caston and his wife, Judy, were incredibly courageous in giving refuge to a Vijay Naidu who, with together with other known USP activists, was being hunted by Rabuka’s soldiers.

Post-script 1

It was also an interesting phenomenon that when USP had  a NZ vice chancellor like Colin Aikman (1968 to 197?), there were lots of NZ professors and heads of departments, and likewise when there was a British vice chancellor like Caston (19XX to 19YY).

The biggest boost to regional senior appointments came when Dr James Maraj, a Trinidadian, was appointed as vice chancellor (19ZZ to 19ZZ).

 

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