HKU vice chancellor to stay until successor found
Jennifer Cheng and Cheung Chi-fai
The outgoing University of Hong Kong vice chancellor will stay on for up to 18 months beyond the end of his contract until a successor is found.
The university council made the unanimous decision yesterday to extend the term of Professor Tsui Lap-chee, who said last month he would not renew his contract. His decision followed a furore over heavy-handed security measures during a university visit by Vice-Premier Li Ke-qiang in August. Tsui's term is due to end on August 31 next year.
The council also agreed to set up a committee - whose membership will include students and alumni - to gather views on how to select the next vice chancellor. The university will officially enter into a transition period of no more than 28 months.
Linus Cheung Wing-lam, a council member who had reportedly opposed Tsui staying on until a successor is found, supported extending Tsui's term.
Council chairman Dr Leong Che-hung said after the meeting yesterday: 'To facilitate the transition pending the arrival of the new vice chancellor, with the agreement of Professor Tsui, he will continue after the expiry of his contract for up to 18 months.'
Tsui is currently in Toronto visiting his family.
Leong said the selection process would take about two years. 'Based on past experience and history, we feel that we should be confident that we will find somebody within that period of time,' he said.
Leong said the primary task of the ad hoc group was to gauge the views of different stakeholders on how to pick the next vice chancellor before setting up a search committee.
'The ad hoc group is tasked to collect views from students, staff, alumni and different stakeholders of this university on how to proceed on the criteria and procedure in looking for a new vice chancellor,' he said. The two years estimated to be needed to select a successor includes the consultation period run by the group, which will be headed by council treasurer Paul Chow Man-yiu as convenor. The group will consist of eight members, comprising the convenor, the head of the human resources committee of the council, one of the 10 faculty deans, two academic staff members from the Senate, a non-academic staff representative, and a student representative and a university alumnus.
Dr Cheung Kei-chung, a council member, said he welcomed the wider representation on the ad hoc committee. 'This is a step forward towards better transparency and wider participation,' he said.
He said forums and meetings would be scheduled in the next four to five months for wider participation by the university community before the committee concluded its findings. In the past, students and staff accused the university of selecting the vice chancellor without consulting them.