DIVINE Word University (DWU) has appointed Professor Cecilia Nembou as its president and vice chancellor, its first lay-person in the role and the first woman vice chancellor of a university in Papua New Guinea.

She replaces Father Jan Czuba, whose leadership term has expired after leading the institution from the start in 1996, when it transited from the former Divine Word Institute (DWI) to a university.

Until her appointment, Prof Nembou was the deputy president of DWU and vice president of the Port Moresby campus of the university.

She will still lead DWU from its Port Moresby campus, while vice president Academic, Professor Pamela Norman, will lead the Madang campus as the deputy president of the university.

In an announcement, Prof Nembou said she was humbled by the trust and respect the DWU Council had accorded her in replacing Fr Czuba and committed herself to continuing his work.

Having worked for many years in the university and higher education system, including serving as pro-vice chancellor and acting vice chancellor of the University of PNG, Prof Nembou said she knew what it took to run a university.

Fr Czuba said he had full confidence in Prof Nembou to carry on the work of making DWU a vibrant and progressive university, having worked with her in various capacities since its establishment as a university.

“I have every confidence in Prof Nembou to lead DWU into the future,” he said.

Archbishop Douglas Young, also chair of the DWU Council, said Prof Nembou’s credentials and contributions as an academic and higher education administrator made her a suitable replacement for Fr Czuba.

Following his retirement from the vice chancellery, Dr Young announced the DWU Council’s decision to appoint Fr Czuba as the “Professor of Academic Quality Assurance and Strategic Management” in recognition of his work in leading DWU and higher education over the last 20 years.