HKBU president Roland Chin to retire at end of term next year

November 27, 2019 15:18
Baptist University president and vice-chancellor Roland Chin said his decision to retire at the end of his term has nothing to do with the political turmoil. Photo: HKEJ

The Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) announced on Tuesday that its president and vice-chancellor Roland Chin Tai-hong will retire on Aug. 31, 2020 when his five-year term ends, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

A global search has been launched for Chin’s successor, said Clement Chen Cheng-jen, chairman of the HKBU Council and Court.

Chin, 67, assumed his post as HKBU president on Sept. 1, 2015. Before that, he had served as deputy vice-chancellor/provost of the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

Prior to his stint at HKU, he was vice-president for academic affairs (deputy to the president) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

In a letter sent to HKBU students, staff and alumni on Tuesday, Chin said he decided not to extend his term, noting that the only reason he has opted to retire is that he has “gone past normal retirement age”.

He acknowledged that the timing of his announcement may lead to “needless speculation”. But he stressed that his decision has nothing to do with the ongoing political turmoil.

“On the contrary, I almost changed my mind and decided to stay on longer because of the recent social unrest,” Chin wrote in the letter. “But my family said no. I’m retiring not because of the pressure nor the workload. The only reason is simply that I have gone past normal retirement age.”

In the letter, Chin pledged to continue with his work in the year ahead, including paving the way for a successor, RTHK reported.

Commenting on Chin’s decision to leave, Benson Wong Wai-kwok, who chairs the HKBU Faculty and Staff Union, believed Chin must have been impacted by the political changes seen in recent months, adding that the true reason could be different from what is stated in the letter.

Wong said Chin's situation was as similar to that faced by former HKU president and vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson, who resigned from his post in February 2017, or two years before the end of his contract.

Chin, under pressure from both Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong and the university students regarding the protest movement, has pleased neither side, Wong said.

Keith Fong Chung-yin, president of the HKBU Students’ Union, believed Chin’s decision was politically driven.

Fong said the university has just started implementing a 10-year plan that Chin himself had initiated while redevelopment work at its old campus has not been completed, making his decision to leave look unreasonable.

Since last year, four local universities have seen their heads replaced.

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