Board and students back president The academic board of the Hong Kong Institute of Education has backed the reappointment of Paul Morris for president ahead of a crunch vote on the issue next week. The board met on Wednesday and secretary So Kwok-sang said 25 members were in favour of reappointing Paul Morris and expressed confidence in the president. There were three abstentions and none against. This is the second time the board - equivalent to a university senate - has backed Professor Morris. In November it voted 24 to one, with four abstentions, in favour of reappointment. HKIEd's ruling council is expected to give its decision on Thursday. 'Board members hope that Professor Morris will lead the institute in its campaign for university status,' Dr So said. The blueprint of the strategic plan for the coming few years, which included the development of five-year double degrees under the new academic structure to be rolled out in 2012, would be submitted to a group in charge of the campaign for university title. The group, including both HKIEd staff and council members, is to meet at the end of the month. Dr So added that a recent survey showed 99.3 per cent of HKIEd graduates from last year had been employed or pursued further studies, compared with about 98 per cent the year before. Last year's graduates earned an average monthly income of HK$15,000 - up 8 per cent from 2005. David Grossman, a member of the board and dean of the institute's Faculty of Languages, Arts and Sciences, said although staff members were not allowed to vote on the reappointment, the result of the board meeting showed Professor Morris enjoyed 'almost unanimous support'. 'It is remarkable to see academics unified,' he said. Council member Tai Hay-lap, principal of a Tuen Mun secondary school, said he would make up his mind on the reappointment of the president after listening to views expressed at Thursday's meeting. While academic excellence and managerial and administrative experience were qualities any tertiary leader should possess, Mr Tai said it was also important to find a president and a vice-president who complemented each other. He said Professor Morris and Bernard Luk Hung-kay, vice-president of academic affairs, who will retire in April, had strengths in common, such as high academic calibre. But they were not as strong in developing connections with the local community. Council member Cheung Kwok-wah, assistant professor of education at the University of Hong Kong, said it was premature to predict the amount of support Professor Morris would get. He was concerned about a split of views between senior management and some members of the council over university titling. Senior administrators had adopted a confrontational approach in dealing with the government, Dr Cheung said, which differed from the attitude of council members who were in the group handling the titling issue. HKIEd should be unified in its views. Ada Wong Ying-kay, a member of HKIEd council, said she would maintain an open mind on the reappointment and decide after Professor Morris had presented his views on Thursday. Victor Au Kin-ho, of HKIEd Students' Union, reiterated students' support for Professor Morris. According to an earlier survey, nearly 60 per cent of students said the president should be reappointed. Council chairman Thomas Leung Kwok-fai was unavailable.