UPNG ROTS FROM UNETHICAL AND POOR MANAGEMENT PRACTICES



by ALEX DON RENALI

Since the current management was appointed, UPNG has completely fallen off the academic radar and ladder. UPNG since has been suffering from nepotism, unethical behaviour, vindictive management practices and lack of academic thrust and direction.

1. Decision Making Process

Any management guru will tell you that the quality of the decisions in an enterprise, organisation or an institution reflects on the value such decision adds to the organisation. When the decision making process is poor, then the value such a decision adds to the organisation is poor. After two years, it is now very evident that the decision to appoint Mellam as the VC was a poor decision. The University of PNG is suffering under his VC-ship in all fronts, reflecting a poor decision and reflecting the quality of the decision makers.

2. Management of the University
Under the current managers of the University, the management practices now being experienced have been non-conforming and out of this planet.
The current management is so vindictive that staff at UPNG work in fear, a cartelist to pretentious performanceoutput by staff. VC is using the old negative archaic style of management of using fear to try achieving results however, someone has to tell him to use the most positive modern rewards system instead.
The UPNG Council condones the statutory non-compliance by the University Management but supports the Management in its vindictive behaviour towards staff of any wrongdoing. This is resulting in qualified hard working staff being terminated or not sought and recruited.
A number of staff have tried reporting this to the council but have been reprimanded and the administration have since been vindictive towards them. The Council’s behaviour towards potential whistle-blowers has discouraged them and many have not done so in fear of adverse consequences. The following is now rife at UPNG:

  • Misappropriation of funds – Very Expensive Cars, More than one official car for one officer, unwarranted and unaccounted for overseas travels, while UPNG has no money to support its most important core business
  •  Failure to comply with University Laws and regulations in making decisions
  •  Harassment of staff – Treats to sack staff for minor offenses, Sitting at the gate of the University by Mellam like a little High School Principal& keeping roll-call of late comers is the worst form of intimidation.
  • Corruption in administration --- appointment of underqualified staff to very senior university positions…. E.g. Academic Audit Director went to his Sepik wantok… who was neither a professor nor an Associate Professor. Invites him to sit in all Senior Management meetings including Senate and Deans Committees when he is not even part of these committees…. None of the University Statutes nor the By-Laws warrants such an absurd practice, which has gone unquestioned by neither the other University Officials nor the Council. And the appointment of the Deputy Dean research…hmmm well you guest it right… another blunder and corrupt practice…. In the appointment of a recently PhD holder who has no research credentials to hold that position 
  • Top Down… authoritative Management style.--- total absence of consultative management at UPNG now. There is total lack of consultation with Executive Deans, Professors and Senior Managers. This VC totally lacks the understanding of the importance of maintaining trust. That trust is a fundamental aspect of collaborative leadership that world renowned Universities are founded on this practice. He lacks to understand that good working relationships, listening, common interest and sharing power all contribute to – and depend on – mutual trust

2. Illegal and Unethical Conduct

Mellam has been involved in unethical practices since his appointment. It is an open secrete at UPNG that he keeps a mistress (Grace) at UPNG. It has now surfaced that she is his bestowed wife in their village. He recruited her from DWU then sent her off to do a PhD, which she failed. Upon her return, she moved into a fully maintained, furnished and curtained house at UPNG. This is contrary to the UPNG Council decision of staff buying their own white goods and furniture. A failed PhD candidate is living in a well-maintained house while most of the Professors and staff are living in dilapidated houses.


After she failed her PhD studies, Mellam instructed the Director of SDU to continue maintaining her on Staff Development Position because the school refused to accept her back after she failed……thisis blatant CORRUPTION.. This went completely against the UPNG SDU policy on Study Fellows.

Mellam and his ladies dining out
This does not stop there… Mellam has taken overseas trips with Grace on a number of trips. Her official capacity in those trips is unknown to the University.
Oh and guess what…Mellam, his official wife and the mistress have also gone on official trips together. The three of them are a regular sight in Port Moresby shops and restaurants.
Mellam is regularly sighted in Graces’ office in early hours..as early as 6.30am and late in the evenings. One particular happening in her office has been the talk of the University, when two senior staff members, one a female (SDU) and a male (SBA) caught Mellam in Graces’ office in a very uncompromising position…..sothe story goes on..


3. Academic Leadership


Mellam totally lacks academic leadership. Since his appointment, no active academic discourse has taken place at UPNG.  He fears and runs away from Professors. Besides the routine Senate and Council meetings he has not held a single academically oriented meeting with all Professors and Associate Professors of the University. It is a major requirement in any university for the VC to regularly meet with Professors to discuss and chart out the academic direction of the University. This VC is so academically inapt that he cannot lead the Professors in the University in academic discourse.


Also, no major research has been conducted resulting in no major publication. The University has turned into a small teaching college with many academic staff unqualified to give quality lectures.

4. Strategic Leadership

The University suffers from total absence of strategic direction from lack of strategic thinking and strategic leadership. This is because the VC lacks the following:

  • He lacks the ability to engage with the wider community on behalf of the university
  • He is so involved in the routine tasks of managing the University, tasks that should be taken care of by the PVCs and Executive Deans that he can not see through to the bigger picture of managing and linking the university
  • He is concentrating on visiting places like India where no new ideas and knowledge is coming from. He is so incompetent that he is scared of collaborating with more reputable Western Universities Spends less time with Deans and Professors to open up to their critic and advice on how the University is being managed and if the academic programs are progressively improving or not.
  • He totally avoids and quashes debate on ideas and questions from staff on how the university is being managed
  • He is working and managing the university using very old and archaic management model

Since Mellam took office, he has not once held a meeting with the senior members of the University to review the Strategic Plan of the University.

Mellam’s appointment has resulted in the University’s vision and goals falling face first.
He lacks strategic focus that he is unable to extrapolate the current issues facing the university to set the future strategy.


He lacks understanding that an effective strategy is one that is organisationallycomprehensive. That it provides the multidisciplinary capacity to translate fundamental trends into relevant opportunities for creating comparative advantage and then deploys the appropriate initiatives.
And Mellam lacks the ability to manage competitive opportunities to help achieve the overall vision and goals of the University to the Premier University of the Pacific.
What all these means is that…. Mellam is totally unable to lead the creation of  a unique and valuable position for UPNG…… using different sets of administrative and academic activities to do so.

5. Financial Miss Management
The University is financially mismanaged. The University constantly lacks operational funds. The scares financial resources of the University is being spend on very expensive cars and unnecessarily overseas trips that produce no positive results for the University.
The ongoing major projects are all mismanaged. Most of these projects have contractors stop working due to lack of payment of their claims. Advance payments without job starting yet for these projects have affected the cash flow of these projects from the Planning Department.

6. Illegality of Mellam’s Contract Renewal

The University community has only recently come to know of the secretive renewal of Mellam’s contract by the Standing Committee of the Council in February 2015. What is wrong with that:

Legallythis is not correct. This is an illegal move by the standing committee of the council. The new Higher Education Act, which superseded the UPNG ACT in November 2014, stipulates that the NEC on the advice of the Minister responsible for Higher Education willappoint/renew the VCs of State Universities. The process followed in the reappointment of Mellam is rigged with error. A committee chaired by a PVC, with membership of Senior Officers including Deans and Professors did not review the performance of the VC. Only then a recommendation should have been made to the staffing committee, which then recommends to the council for renewal or not. This did not take place obviously for fear of non-renewal.

7. Recommendations

  • The NEC should immediately constitute an investigating team to investigate the mall practices at UPNG
  • NEC using the provisions of thenew Higher Education Act immediately remove the current incompetent and corrupt management and replace it with a new one

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