AN American academic was formally recommended to become Hong Kong University's new vice-chancellor yesterday despite students' reservations. Professor Woo Shien-biau, 57, of the University of Delaware, is the sole candidate to replace Professor Wang Gungwu who is retiring. The students' union president and representative on the selection committee, Rosa Mok Pui-han, had asked for the recommendation to be postponed. Last week student leaders argued that Professor Woo, who left Hong Kong 30 years ago, was not suited to lead the institution through 1997 because he did not know enough about Hong Kong and China. 'He will not only have to face Hong Kong University's students, but he will also be the university spokesman whose views will have considerable impact,' Miss Mok said. The students also criticised the candidate for lacking vision and an understanding of the local education system, although they believed Professor Woo, who has been Lieutenant-Governor of Delaware, could fight for more resources for the university. Miss Mok suggested Professor Woo meet more students in September and the university seek more candidates. The student demands will be raised when the university council meets to discuss whether to appoint Professor Woo later this month, she said. The selection, by a committee chaired by the Chief Justice and university council chairman, Sir Ti Liang Yang, a treasurer, three lay members, four academics and two student representatives, has been dogged by controversy. The second student representative, William Lai Yuk-yeu, resigned in protest when the student representatives were accused of leaking information about candidates. Professor Kan Yuet-wai dropped out when he learned from a press report he was the second choice, leaving Professor Woo the sole nominee. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has dropped a leading candidate for a pro-vice-chancellor's post. A selection committee decided to recommend Paul Bolton, 56, of the University of Hull in Britain, instead of Alexander Darling, 50, of the University of McMaster in Canada, to the council for discussion yesterday. Some staff have criticised the management for preferring academics from North America to fill senior posts, with the chancellor and many of the pro-vice-chancellors and faculty heads from the continent. Staff were also unhappy about the lack of local contenders on the shortlist.