Outgoing HKU vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson won’t wait for successor to be hired

Days after his shock resignation news, Edinburgh University-bound administrator claims school ‘in very good hands’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 8:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 8:02am

The University of Hong Kong’s vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson, who last week announced his resignation in the middle of his term, said he would not extend his stay at the school until his successor has been hired – a procedure expected to take at least a year and a half.

Mathieson, who is leaving by January next year, explained he could not delay his departure as he had a contractual agreement with Edinburgh University, which he said wanted him to start next year.

HKU vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson denies political pressure behind resignation

He revealed one or two people had written him offering to take over his job at HKU, but said it was not up for him to decide his successor.

HKU’s council was to start a global search for the next vice-chancellor by setting up a search committee, he said, noting he would not get involved in the process.

Vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson does not deserve Hong Kong

In response to criticisms suggesting he was irresponsible to quit his job in the middle of the term, Mathieson said he understood the sentiment. “I am not saying that I necessarily agree with it,” he said.

“But unfortunately I have a number of factors to take into account. I have come to a decision which is best for me and for my family.”

“To a certain extent I shared their disappointments,” he added, referring to his critics. “I recognise that there is a lot of work to be done. But I am confident the team will carry on the work.”

“I will be here for another year and during that year we can achieve a lot, and I am sure there is a lot of momentum. So I am very confident that HKU is in very good hands.”

I will be here for another year and during that year we can achieve a lot
Peter Mathieson, HKU

Mathieson gave his comments after attending a spring reception held by HKU’s school of medicine on Tuesday night.

HKU council member Professor Lo Chung-mau said he was disappointed by Mathieson’s early departure, and expected it would pose a challenge for the school as it would trigger administrative and management changes. The recruitment process at HKU typically takes at least a year and a half.

But he believed the university would be fine in the long run, saying it was led by a very strong team.

Lo, a world renowned expert in liver transplant, demurred when asked if he was interested in the vice-chancellor position.

“As I have recently become the head of HKU-Shenzhen Hospital, my new role is very challenging and fulfilling,” he said. “I have not thought about changing my job.”