Minister finally addresses UPNG staff

The Department of Higher Education has finally met with the staff of the University of PNG to address their concerns.

Minister Pila Niningi assured the staff this afternoon that the appointment of Frank Griffin as the vice chancellor will go before cabinet.

The Department of Higher Education and UPNG’s National Academic Staff Association have been at loggerheads since the removal of most of the UPNG council members in January, and the appointment of an interim council on January 23rd.

The final straw was when registrar Dr Peter Petsul was terminated by the interim council on February 27th.

A frustrated NASA then led a voluntary protest where academics and non-academics withdrew their services starting March 4th, requesting the Prime Minister to intervene and immediately:

  1. Install Dr Frank Griffin as the duly-appointed vice chancellor of UPNG;
  2. Reinstate the duly-appointed registrar, Dr Peter Petsul;
  3. Remove the interim council and;
  4. Institute a new, interim neutral council manned by Papua New Guineans of high standing and reputation.

This afternoon the Higher Education Minister, accompanied by Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari, met with the aggrieved staff and assured them that their concerns have been taken into consideration.

Minister Niningi said the appointment of Professor Griffin as the vice chancellor will be submitted to Cabinet sometime next week, as process has been followed.

“This is the process you started, and the process has to be completed in that way,” said Minister Niningi.

The Minister admitted that he was not advised of the process involved in the appointment of a vice chancellor, nor was he notified of the advertisement that was placed by UPNG in September 2018.

“No one, not even the (NASA) president, came and spoke to me of the process,” clarified Niningi.

“Then I appointed the council and council, in its wisdom, appointed the acting vice chancellor (Kenneth Sumbuk) and so that’s where we are now.”

While the interim council remains, the academics have been invited to suggest names for the chancellor’s post, while the termination of the registrar is an administrative matter that the Minister cannot get involved in.

Meantime, classes will resume tomorrow morning.  

Carmella Gware