Calls to change how HKU chooses its boss after selection of Mathieson
Students say they should be more involved in process for selecting a vice chancellor, while staff want a shortlist of at least six candidates
University of Hong Kong student and staff representatives have called for changes to the selection process for its chief after strong opposition to the appointment of British professor Peter Mathieson as vice chancellor.
Oscar Ng Wai-ka, vice-chairman of student body Arts Association, asked why students were not represented on the search committee that reportedly prepared a shortlist of three for a selection body to choose from.
Staff association president Stephen Chan Chit-kwai suggested the selection panel should have been given at least six candidates so it had back-ups if its first choice was not found suitable.
Mathieson, a dean of the University of Bristol's medicine and dentistry faculty, was appointed to lead the 102-year-old institution for the next five years, four days after the selection panel named him as the sole candidate.
The process by which Mathieson was picked began two years ago when the university council set up an ad hoc group that listed selection criteria and decided to follow past practice in creating the search and selection committees.
The former consisted of three professors and Paul Chow Man-yiu, former chief of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing. With the help of a head-hunting firm, it short-listed candidates for the selection committee to interview.
Ng said he could not understand why students were represented in the ad hoc group and the selection panel, but not during the search. "I also wondered whether, in the end, there could be one more finalist," he said.
Professor Chan Yuen-ying, director of HKU's Journalism and Media Studies Centre, suggested on Monday that the university follow US practice by holding a series of meetings for vice-chancellor candidates to present their visions before one was chosen.
But assistant law professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming worried holding forums for candidates would further deter top academics from applying. "It depends on which universities we are [using as] benchmarks," he said.
Meanwhile, HKU's arts faculty said yesterday it was forming a committee to start a global search to replace its retiring dean Professor Kam Louie. English professor Douglas Kerr, who will be interim dean from January 1, said the committee "will be very careful to find someone welcomed by all interested parties".