Pacific Adventist University (PAU) welcomed its newly appointed deputy vice-chancellor (administration), Mere Vaihola, on Monday, July 3. Mrs Vaihola, originally from Tonga and a former student of PAU, brings with her extensive experience and strong connections to other Pacific Island countries.
The vice-chancellor, Professor Teatulohi Matainaho, expressed the significance of having a representative from the Pacific in this role. He stated, “PAU is a university that provides opportunities for students within the Pacific, and it is vital to have someone from the Pacific in this position. We want to maintain the connection with Pacific Islanders, as it has been since the establishment of the university.”
Having previously served as education director for Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) for eight years in Fiji and Tonga, Mrs Vaihola brings 24 years of dedicated service in the Adventist education administration system within the Pacific. Her warm reception by the students and staff upon her arrival reflects their excitement for the opportunity she has been given. Mrs Vaihola expressed her enthusiasm and stated her desire to see more Pacific Islanders become part of the university community.
In her new role as deputy vice-chancellor (administration), Mrs Vaihola will oversee various key areas, including policy and legal services, human resource management, the PAU clinic, communications management, ICT operations and support services, which encompass physical plant operations, development and campus security. She will work alongside the existing management team, which includes the vice-chancellor, provost and deputy vice-chancellor (academic), bursar, and the director of student services.
Acknowledging the challenges posed by the pandemic, Dr Matainaho highlighted that the number of students from other Pacific countries had decreased to 66, posing a significant challenge. However, he emphasised that PAU is actively collaborating with Pacific countries to address this issue, and the appointment of Mrs Vaihola is a step in the right direction.