ASCC greets new Board of Higher Education
Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga joined the faculty and staff of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) this past Friday as the keynote speaker for a General Assembly at which the new Board of Higher Education (BHE) was introduced.
Appointed by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in May and confirmed by the Fono in June, the current BHE consists of returning members Rev. Dr. Leanavaotaua Sekuini Seva’aetasi and High Chief Tauiliili Lauifi, and new members Fanuatele Dr. Toafa Vaiaga’e, Rev. Dr. Siulagi Solomona, and Father Viane Etuale. ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i and Director of Education Vaitinasa Dr Salu Hunkin Finau both serve as ex-officio members, and ASCC senior Paulo Saulo returns as this semester’s interim student representative on the Board.
Last week’s general assembly began with special remarks from ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i, who welcomed keynote speaker Lemanu to the podium before a full-to-capacity audience in the College’s lecture hall. Himself an ASCC graduate, Lemanu referred to the College as a “decision point”, or the point at which many of American Samoa’s young adults as well as older non-traditional students decide the course their future will take. He used himself as an example of how far someone can go using their education as a starting point, and expressed the Lolo administration’s support for the College’s ongoing efforts to expand its services to the people of American Samoa.
Near the end of this address, Lemanu recognized some of the College faculty from his days as a student who are still doing their jobs, giving special acknowledgement to Mrs. Elisapeta Faalafi-Jones of the English Language Institute and to administrative staffer Cherylmoanamarie Ripley “who always used to type my papers for me.”
Following Lemanu’s well-received remarks, newly-elected BHE chairman Leanavaotaua addressed the assembly to introduce the new and returning Board members and to ask everyone present to reaffirm their commitment to making an ASCC a quality institution.
“I’d like to ask you to check your commitment manual,” Leanavaotaua said early on, which prompted a momentarily puzzled response before he clarified, “that’s the part of your own heart that knows how truly committed you are.” He went on to emphasize how ASCC has made great accomplishments recently through teamwork, such as the establishment of a four-year degree in Teacher Education, and how commitment and teamwork can lead to ASCC making even greater strides.
“This is our time”, emphasized Leanavaotaua, who explained that regardless of previous successes, the present is always the time to strive towards the next set of goals.
Both the continuing and the new BHE members bring with them many years experience in the field of education and community service in American Samoa. A full time pastor in the village of Tula for the past 12 years, Chairman Leanavaotaua is a longstanding leader in the Congregational Christian Church, and also serves as a member of the Kanana Fou Theological Seminary Board. Father Viane is a former teacher, principal, and Director of Catholic Education, and presently serves as Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Samoa – Pago Pago. Dr. Vaiaga’e has served the Territory since 1975, mostly working in the school system, including a year spent as Interim President of ASCC during the Lutali administration. Dr. Vaiaga’e recently retired from an eight-year tenure as Director of the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency.
Dr. Solomona, a former ASCC student, has long served as a career educator and currently serves as a special assistant to the House Speaker with a focus on legal matters. A six-year veteran of the BHE, High Chief Lauifi’s resume includes directorships of both American Samoa Goodwill, a non-profit group that advocates for the disabled workforce, and the Veterans Association of American Samoa. Lauifi is also a member of the American Samoa Humanities Council and a Deacon for the Congregational Christian Church in Iliili.
Gov. Lolo has also appointed local businesswoman Robin Annesley to the BHE, but her status remains unconfirmed as she was off-island for the June confirmation hearings.
Lt. Gov. Lemanu joined Chairman Leanavaotaua and the Board members, ASCC President Galea’i and members of the College administration for a meeting following the assembly. In keeping with Leanavaotaua’s earlier-expressed belief that “This is our time”, the discussion focused on ways the College, the Board and the current government administration can work collaboratively to keep ASCC moving ahead positively as it strives to fulfill its mission of serving the Territory.
below: Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga (front, center) joins members of the Board of Higher Education and the ASCC administration following a general assembly at the College last week. (Front, l-r) ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i, new BHE member Fanuatele Dr. Toafa Vaiaga’e, newly elected BHE chairman Rev. Dr. Leanavaotaua Sekuini Seva’aetasi, Lemanu, High Chief Lauifi Tauiliili, student representative Paulo Saulo, and new BHE member , Rev. Dr. Siulagi Solomona. (Back l-r) ASCC administrators Tapaau Dr. Daniel Aga, Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle, and Mrs. Rosevonne Pato. Not pictured are new BHE members Rev. Dr. Siulagi Solomona, and Father Vaiane Etuale, and new ex-officio member Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau. [Photo: J. Kneubuhl]
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