First female vice-chancellor honoured for her work in education

Dr Cecilia Nembou (left) with Governor General Grand-Chief Sir Bob Dadae, Lady Emeline Tufi Dadae and family members at the Government House in Port Moresby on Thursday. – Nationalpic by JOEL HAMARI

PAPUA New Guinea’s first woman university vice-chancellor Dr Cecilia Nembou was recognised on the Queens’s Birthday Honours award with an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to higher education and as a role model for women.
The ceremony was held at Government House in Port Moresby on Thursday and officiated by Governor-General Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae.
“It is a nice going away gift from the Government as I move into retirement, and I really appreciate it very much,” she said.
“I am happy the Government recognised my services within the higher education space.”
Nembou from Baluan Island, Manus, retired as the president (vice-chancellor) of Divine Word University last year, ending her 45 years of service in senior administrative and academic roles at two prestigious universities in the country and a university abroad.
Nembou became the first female vice-chancellor in the country in January 2016 when she was appointed as president of Divine Word University in Madang.
She completed her high schooling at Papitalai Secondary School in Manus and Marianville Secondary School in Port Moresby before entering the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in 1970.
Nembou, 17 then, studied for a bachelor of science in mathematics.
In 1975 when Papua New Guinea got independence, Nembou graduated with her first degree.
She spent 25 years working at UPNG as the senior lecturer in mathematics, head of the mathematics department and later became the Executive Dean of the School of Natural and Physical Sciences.
She also held the position of pro-vice chancellor (Planning and Development) and acting vice-chancellor at UPNG.
Nembou got her masters of science in operations research from the University of Sussex in United Kingdom in 1978.
In 1992, she attained her doctorate in operations research from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
She left in 2003 to broaden her experiences by working for an Australian university in the Middle East. She worked at the University of Wollongong in Dubai for two years.
She returned to PNG and went to Divine Word University (DWU), where she worked for 15 years.
The last five years of her stint at DWU were served as vice-chancellor.
Nembou encouraged students and young people to have goals and dreams and work hard to achieve them.
“You must have a dream about what you want to be in the future,” he said.
“Dream big and set your goal to achieve such a dream, and work very hard to achieve your dream with all your heart and mind.”