An impressive host of world-renowned luminaries, academics and industry leaders has been appointed to the Fiji National University Council by the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Hon Rosy Akbar. These 14 Council members join the Minister’s recent appointment of Mr Rajesh Chandra, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, reformer and academic, as FNU Council Chancellor.

The new appointments bring with them a well-rounded array of local, regional, and global insights and accomplishments from across the fields of academia, business, and the sciences, including engineering and medicine, instantly elevating FNU to a new level of pedigree and prestige.

“The visionary leadership of this Council is fundamentally important for the growth of FNU as an institution and in widening and deepening the scope of educational opportunities available for FNU students. That is why finding and appointing the highest-calibre Council possible has been a central focus of Government,” said Minister Akbar. “These carefully chosen appointees bring with them a profound offering of skills, experience and perspectives. Most importantly of all, each share one crucial characteristic: A deep passion to see Fiji succeed as a nation and for FNU to become the premier national university. Collectively, the FNU Council will undoubtedly prove to be a history-making force for higher education in Fiji.”

Minister Akbar pointed to the announced shift of the administration of the nation’s technical colleges to FNU from 1 August as another key move to offer students a more robust and wide-reaching education in scientific and technical fields of study.

Brief biodata for the new appointees can be found below:

Ms Tessa Price is the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group’s Regional Executive for Pacific. She holds a Masters of Business Administration – Executive (2007) from the Australian Graduate School of Management, Bachelor of Commerce (International Business) and a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) from the University of Auckland.


Professor Dharmendra Sharma, originally from Fiji, has served the Chair of the Academic Board since 2014 at the University of Canberra, where he was also the Dean of Engineering and Information Sciences from 2007 to 2012. University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science since 2008, he was formerly a senior lecturer at USP.

Ms Lala Sowane brings over two decades’ experience in the tourism sector, providing valuable insight into the demands of the industry. She is the director/owner of Pacific Destinations, an inbound tourism operator, and also holds qualifications as an accountant/auditor.

Mr Raymond Prasad graduated with Honours from Deakin University, where he earned a BA in Architecture. He brings over 15 years’ industry experience, and will supply the Council with his refined expertise surrounding the demands and requirements of professional services in the construction industry, such as civil and services engineering.

Professor Barry McGrath is the Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Monash University. He is a trained physician and former Professor of Vascular Medicine at Monash Health in Victoria. A leader in cardiovascular medicine, he brings with him clinical, academic and research experience.

Dr Joseph Veramo has worked at USP, previously teaching in the non-formal education sector. He has extensive experience consulting for multi-lateral organisations, and will bring a berth of insight on non-formal education to the Council.

Dr Penuel Immanuel, formerly known as Dr Emi Mataitoga, is a Consultant Specialist of Internal Medicine at Suva Private/MIOT. She currently serves as a member of the Professional Standards Committee of the Medical Council.


Dr Nur Bano Ali stands out as the only Fijian practising accountant with a PhD. Her thesis was on Development Finance (using FDB as a case study) from the University of Waikato, New Zealand. She is also a member of the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and the Chair of Women in Business (Fiji).

Dr Parakrama Dissanayake holds a PhD, Management/Business Administration, bringing valuable business acumen to the Council. He is Deputy Chairman/Managing Director of Aitken Spence, Co-Chairman of CINEC Maritime Management Campus (CINEC is currently assisting with the Fiji Maritime Academy) and Board Director of Fiji Ports Corporation Limited and Fiji Ports Terminal Limited.

Professor Ravi Naidu, originally from Fiji, is one of Australia’s leading environmental scientists. He is the Global Information Chair and Director of the Global Centre for Environmental Remediation. He was formerly the Chief Scientist at the prestigious CSIRO in Australia, and is also currently on the Board of the Sugar Research Institute of Fiji.

Dr Akhila Nand Sharma, after serving as a teacher for more than 46 years across various levels of the education sector, retired from his position as Associate Professor of Education at USP. He holds a Doctorate in Education from Bristol University, and was formerly a PhD supervisor at FNU and a secondary and primary school teacher, equipping him with a unique perspective on teaching and learning.

Mr Davenesh Sharma is a lawyer of 31 years, having obtained his LLB from Victoria University in Wellington. He now specialises in all aspects of civil and commercial litigation in Magistrates Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Industrial Tribunals. He is a past president of the Fiji Law Society.

Mr Vishnu Mohan is the current Chair of both the Public Service Commission and Fiji Sugar Corporation. He is a senior, international banker with 40 years of experience in Corporate and Institutional Banking and Consumer Banking, covering the Middle East, North America, Southern Africa, West Africa, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Singapore and the Pacific. He led ANZ’s businesses across 12 countries in the Pacific region which covered all retail, commercial and institutional customers, products and operations, and also looked after Fiji as its Country CEO.


Mr Gordon Jenkins, Chair of the Construction Industry Council, has been a quantity surveyor for 56 years. He brings the Council invaluable insights into the demands and requirements of the construction industry, an important sector for growth to meet Fiji’s development needs.

These newly appointed members will join the the Council Chancellor and other ex-officio members of the FNU Council in appointing a Deputy Chancellor, with the option of selecting the new Deputy Chancellor from amongst themselves. If an existing Council member is appointed to fill the Deputy Chancellor position, their vacant seat on the Council shall be filled at a later date.

There will be five other individuals who will be Council members who shall be elected as follows:
• one head of a college of FNU, as elected by the heads of the colleges;
• one member of FNU’s full-time professorial staff, as elected by the members of the full-time professorial staff;
• one member of FNU’s full-time non-professorial academic staff, as elected by the full-time non-professorial staff;
• one student representing undergraduate students, as elected by the full-time undergraduate students; and
• one student representing post-graduate students, as elected by the full-time post-graduate students.