University of Hong Kong (HKU) vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has not mentioned the appointment of pro-vice-chancellors in any of the conversations they have had, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.
Leung has been accused of attempting to intervene in the appointment of a pro-vice-chancellor to fill the remaining vacancy among five such positions at HKU.
Professor Johannes Chan, former dean of HKU’s faculty of law, who is said to be a front-runner for the post, was recently criticized by two pro-Beijing newspapers in Hong Kong for failing to maintain standards at the faculty while he was dean.
Mathieson, who heads the search committee, said the university is waiting for the committee to recommend candidates for the post.
He said there are prescribed procedures for appointing a pro-vice-chancellor.
The university will make an announcement when progress is made, Matheson said, refusing to comment on speculation or give a reason why the final vacancy has yet to be filled.
At the university’s Lunar New Year media reception Wednesday, four of the nine faculty deans present heaped praise on Chan.
However, they all avoided commenting on whether he is the best candidate for the post of pro-vice-chancellor for academic staffing and resources.
Professor Eric Chieh Chang, dean of the faculty of business and economics, said Chan is very capable and that his performance was well recognized when he was HKU’s dean of law.
Commenting on whether Chan’s involvement in politics would hamper his research work, Chang said academics should pay attention to what is happening in society. Given their age and social status, they have the ability to juggle their various responsibilities, he said.
Professor Sun Kwok, dean of the faculty of science, said Chan “loves the school immensely” and is a “very capable talent who deserves a lot of respect”. To criticize Chan’s work using the University Grants Committee’s Research Assessment Exercise report (as was done by the two newspapers) would be unfair, Kwok said.
Professor Douglas Kerr, dean of the faculty of arts, said Chan is a man with principles, fair and always considers the interests of HKU.
Kerr said the sooner the pro-vice-chancellor is appointed, the better for the university. Kerr said HKU needs quality people to help with its development.
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