By KEVIN PAMBA
UNIVERSITIES around the world partner with various stakeholders and entities to get things done. One stakeholder group that universities partner with to achieve desired outcomes is the alumni or their graduates.
The alumni engage with their alma mater in a range of ways. One way is for them to make direct contributions in cash and kind to the universities they graduate from.
Divine Word University is making a strategic shift to engage with its alumni members in a more pronounced way as it moves through its first year of operating its “Third Decade Strategic Plan-2016 to 2026”.
DWU has opened an opportunity for its alumni to contribute back to the University by embarking on a nationwide fundraising drive for two new double-storey dormitories. Former student and currently Vice President Corporate Services Paias Bokorum has sent out a series of circulars regarding the fundraising drive through the alumni e-network and the alumni chapters in the different towns nationwide.
The proposed new dormitories will replace the aging Brothers and Feehan halls of residence.
Students who passed through DWU over the years will hold fond memories of their time as residents of Brothers and Feehan halls.
There are also the Edith and Clare houses for female students.
The name “Brothers” was given in honour of all the Catholic missionaries who contributed to the development of the Madang campus while Feehan was named in honour of the pioneer headmaster of Catholic HS Fr Kenneth Feehan SVD. Clare and Edith halls are named after catholic missionaries Sr Clare Oberhammer and Sr Edith who served at the institution all those years ago. Soon the four buildings will be no more. They have served their time and will be pulled down to make way for new and improved double-storey dormitories that will cater for the increase in he number of students.
Edith and Clare houses are being replaced with new buildings funded by the government’s public investment program (PIP) with the construction of one dormitory already underway.
The Brothers and Feehan halls however still do not have guaranteed funding for their replacements. The DWU is therefore reaching out to its alumni for help.
Students who have attended the institution since 1968, when it was still a high school are being called upon to help where they can.
The fundraiser involving the DWU alumni will begin with a major corporate dinner at the Madang Resort Hotel Saturday 8 July. A fashion show by local designer Natasha Tamanabae will be the main feature of the evening. Some of the design pieces would be auctioned on the night to raised funds.
DWU President Cecilia Nembou has invited members of the business community in Madang to chip in and support the cause. Other fundraising dinners are planned for other major towns around the country. This dinner meetings would be an opportune time for former schoolmates to catch up and reminisce about good times, as well give to a worthy cause. An endowment fund is also being created in addition to the corporate dinner series.
Bokorum said alumni support for the dormitories is vital as it will enable DWU to create more space for the next generation of young people which could include the children of former students.
“Alumni members’ contributions is one way they can give back to the university that molded and shaped them to be who they are today”.
Oring Gom, a DWU lecturer and former graduate of the Catholic High School (it later evolved into Divine Word University in 1979) said the Brothers and Feehan Halls of residence were there when he enrolled as a Grade 7 student in 1976. The Morobean said students of Catholic high school came from around the country.
Gom was asked by the headmaster Kenneth Feehan to stay on to do grade 11in 1980 but he refused. His reason, “I was already tired of cutting the thick grass as my hands had grown sore”.
Accountant and now lecturer at DWU Nicholas Koimo said he enrolled in Divine Word Institute in 1995 for Grade 11 from St Peter’s Fatima Secondary School in Jiwaka and continued into the Bachelor of Business Accounting and graduated in 2000 after the institution changed to a University. Quinten Kuias who is back the University to complete his degree studies in PNG Studies and International Relations said he enrolled in DWU for matriculation in 1999 and completed his Diploma in PNG Studies in 2002.
They fondly remember their time in the two male dormitories.
Here is how Joseph Sukwianomb, one of the ‘old boys’ of Catholic HS (1970-1971) recounted his time at the Madang campus in a commemorative silver jubilee magazine of DWI in 1993: “I cannot piece together why but one thing has struck me as the most influential.
“That one hour a week elective that the HM (headmaster) used to take.
“He used to pound on us those virtues that we must cherish – honesty, hard work, leadership, initiative, etc, etc.”
A former student leader Tobias Kulang writing in the same magazine in 1993 called the institution a “great endeavour that many have gained from and will continue to do so in the future”.
That great endeavour is now a work in progress. It needs a whole lot of support from those who have gained from it to continue the great work of education.
By KEVIN PAMBA