The University of Hong Kong will soon launch a global recruitment process to fill the post of pro vice chancellor for academic staffing and resources, HKU president and vice chancellor Peter Mathieson said.
Mathieson told Sing Tao Daily in an interview during a visit to Vancouver last week that once an ideal candidate is found, he will recommend the person to the university’s council.
His remarks came after the council decided in a meeting Sept. 29 to reject former HKU law dean Johannes Chan Man-mun for the role of pro vice chancellor, a decision that has triggered a furor inside and outside the university.
Mathieson’s support for Chan as the sole candidate recommended by the university’s search committee for the post did not help, as each council member, including the vice chancellor, had only one vote, Mathieson said.
He said he respected the council members’ different points of view.
As regards the concern some had raised that academic autonomy might have been jeopardized, Mathieson asserted that isn’t true.
However, when it comes to institutional autonomy, a tug-of-war among stakeholders is an ongoing issue, as the university is a government-funded institution.
Mathieson admitted that HKU is caught up in the tensions between Beijing and Hong Kong, which has led to difficulty running the university.
That said, Mathieson said he is still optimistic about HKU’s future, as he believes the university will keep attracting the best students with its excellent traditions and culture, which will continue to be carried forward by its teachers and students.
Asked why he visited students protesting on the streets during last year’s pro-democracy Occupy movement, Mathieson said he just wanted to show he cared for the students, who he said are now more enthusiastic about social and political affairs.
“My observation is that Hong Kong has changed since the movement,” he said.
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