Professor Kola’s death shocks UPNG chemistry strand

The death of Professor John Kola has shocked the chemistry strand of the University of Papua New Guinea.

Late Professor Kola was UPNG’s former head of chemistry. Under special arrangements agreed to between the interim council of the University of Goroka and the management of UPNG, he was appointed the acting vice-chancellor of UOG last year.

“Just heard the news and cannot accept it. PNG has lost another great man,” said the late Kola’s former student Patricia Hagali, who is now a chemistry tutor at UPNG.

“You always made time available to us and always motivate us. Even though you were tough on us, you wanted the best from us. I am so privileged to have been taught and mentored by you.

“He left a huge gap,” Hagali told Loop PNG. “He was both our inorganic and physical chemistry lecturer.

“He set a big standard. Most of us are in shock over the news.

“It’s a big loss to our strand. He was a father figure to us all.”

Another former student and biology tutor at UOG said: “He was a good man, he not only wanted his students to be average but to reflect his genius, especially in his field. Prof Rally and former UPNG dean of science Prof Griffin were his students: that says a lot. I was a biology student who was lucky enough to know him both at UPNG and UOG. He truly was a great country man!”

Recently-graduated UPNG chemistry student Dianne Aulo said: “Dear Prof Kola, you have taught us how to be independent and not spoon fed. I remember how you allow us to come into your office, sit on the couch and chew buai.

“You are so simple and down-to-earth. We will miss you dearly. Rest in Peace Prof Kola.”

UOG confirmed with Loop PNG that the late professor collapsed around midday today. He was rushed to the hospital but pronounced dead upon arrival.

Details are quite sketchy at the moment.

The late Professor Kola was part of the new management that regained command and control of UOG following the aftermath of the Black Thursday of August 27, 2015.

UOG students were boycotting for approximately a month, calling for the removal of then VC Dr Gairo Onagi.

Despite public perception that UOG was an already collapsed and failed university, the late Kola and his colleagues made a smooth turn-around.

Full details of the late professor’s passing will be released by UOG later this afternoon.

(The late Professor John Kola with some of his students in 2013 at UPNG. Picture: Patricia Hagali)

Carmella Gware