LAE – Local leaders from across Morobe Province have petitioned the Papua New Guinea government to prevent the University of Technology Council from removing vice chancellor Dr Albert Schram as head of one of the nation’s leading universities.
Dr Schram was sacked by the Council in February for alleged serious misconduct and breach of his employment contract. He denies the allegations and is taking legal action to contest his dismissal.
In documents sent to PNG Attitude, four different groups of leaders from local authorities in Morobe have pushed back strongly against Dr Schram’s sacking and have sought government intervention in the case.
They represent Lae urban council, Nabak council, Hube council (Finschhafen) and the people of Busamang village.
Councillors Yawing Madulu and Toby Tusili say they represent more than 3,000 people from Busamang village in the Salamaua Council who are calling on the government to intervene.
Cr Madulu said the current conflict between the University Council and Dr Schram was detrimental to the good administration of the university.
"This very important tertiary institution has a significant role in educating and producing the country's human resources, which are critical for PNG's development and advancement,” he said.
“Conflict like this doesn't create the appropriate and conducive learning and teaching environment which are essential for an institution like Unitech.
“In addition to infrastructural improvements, the university took on a very important function, the training of medical nurses,” Cr Madulu said.
The councillors said Dr Schram had shared with them his vision for Unitech, including his dream for the establishment of a future University City.
"We believe if Dr Schram is allowed to continue as vice chancellor and bring his vision into reality, the university will attract investment and generate income which can support Unitech, instead of it depending entirely on the government for funding."
The councillors described Dr Schram as a humble and an easy going person, who associated with people at all levels easily and well.
Hon Kiwas Nayos, president of the Hube Council in Finschaffen, speaking as the political head of more than 5,000 people said the sacking of Dr Schram had been “a huge disgrace to me as a leader of this province.”
“I believe this vice chancellor has a heart for not only the people of the Morobe but for other people in Papua New Guinea,” Cr Nayos said. “I have seen are lot of changes under the leadership of Dr Schram, including the distribution of Dell Laptop computers to all first year students, which is precisely the transformation we appreciate to develop to a world standard.
It’s about time that we rose from our sick bed and fought the wickedness of our laziest bone. If we remain like a sleeping giant, the country Papua New Guinea will sink at any time. Before bad comes to worse we must take some measures to manage our resources wisely for future use.
“I once again call on the government of PNG to make decisive action to allow the vice chancellor back to his office,” Cr Nayos said.
Nabak Council president Jayford K Mavo said he spoke for the 7,000 people of Nabak in appealing for “the return of Dr Schram to his humble office in order for him to implement his strategic plan and vision for the University of Technology.”
Cr Mavo said Dr Schram “has a compassionate and sympathetic heart and brain for this country and for Morobe Province. Why on this earth did the university council lay many false allegations against him. I see that there was no serious crime he committed such as misuse of funds or mismanagement of university facilities.
From my own observation, he has done many great things since he occupied this office of vice chancellor in 2012. Unitech council must respect the kind of leadership he has portrayed in Morobe and Papua New Guinea,” Cr Mavo said.
Four Lae urban leaders, including two ward presidents of Lae Urban Council called on the PNG government and Unitech Council members to withdraw all allegations and accusations made against Dr Schram.
Rejecting the allegations made against the vice chancellor, they said Dr Schram had shown himself to be “a strategic, performance-focused, result-driven professional with years of experience in executive roles in higher education and academic research at an international level.
“Dr Schram has a heart for this country,” they said. “He has achieved great things for Unitech as vice chancellor since 2012. A man of high stature, he has chosen to help build PNG by enhancing the human resources of the country.
“Although he is not a Papua New Guinean, he has shown compassion and sympathy for our country. We salute him for not giving up and for fighting against corruption on behalf of the silent majority.”