William Ian Rees Davies, who headed the Hong Kong University from 2000 to 2002, died of kidney failure at 72 in his home in London on Thursday.
Peter Mathieson, the current vice-chancellor of the university, announced the death of the professor in an email to all the faculty staff, students and alumni, Apple Daily reported.
The email did not specify the cause of death of Davies, but said he will be remembered forever for his services to the university. Mathieson offered deep condolences to Davies’ friends and family on behalf of the university.
Davies succeeded Cheng Yiu-chung in 2000 as the vice-chancellor of the century-old institution. He came in on an interim basis after Cheng was forced to step down in the wake a scandal surrounding the HKU public opinion poll.
In that year, Robert Chung, director of the Public Opinion Programme of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the institution, said he had faced political pressure from the then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa through Cheng to discontinue opinion polls related to Tung’s popularity and the Hong Kong government’s credibility.
Davies retired in 2002 after finishing the term and was then succeeded by Tsui Lap-chee. He spent his retired life in London.
He was awarded a Silver Bauhinia Star, which recognizes people with signification contribution to Hong Kong, in 2003.
Henry Wai, registrar of the Hong Kong University, said Davies was popular among the faculty and students as he was open-minded and friendly.
Although he only served an interim term, Davies was serious about the job. He maintained the morale of the faculty and students after the public opinion poll incident and carried out many policies to promote the internationalization of the university, Wai said.
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