Baptist U names head, but process draws fire

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 October, 2009, 12:00am

After a controversial selection process, newly elected Baptist University president Professor Albert Chan Sun-chi voiced his ambition yesterday to take the university's achievements in Chinese medicine and pharmacy onto the global stage.

The chemist was unanimously approved by the university's council as new president and vice-chancellor yesterday - not without criticism from staff and students, who said the process was opaque, had scant involvement of them, and that he was the only candidate for approval.

Chan is currently the vice-president at Polytechnic University. He will take over from retiring president Professor Ng ching-fai in July next year and serve for five years.

With his background in Chinese medicine, Chan vowed to incorporate the traditional medicine into modern science, and make it world-class. 'Chinese medicine and pharmacy are the university's strengths. Chinese medical institutes on the mainland are focused on the subject while lacking technological backup to take it further, and foreign institutes still have to catch up on their knowledge, but Hong Kong is in a good position to develop Chinese medicine,' he said.

Chan is the founding director of the State Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine and Molecular Pharmacology, Shenzhen, and the founding dean of the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University.

A group of 10 students protested.

Yip Cho-yan, acting president of the student union, complained that although she was a member of the council, the university did not allow her to get involved in the selection, on the pretext that students might divulge the identity of candidates. 'The university does not respect our opinions,' Yip said.

Staff union member To Yiu-ming alleged that the search council had offered a contract to Chan, which he had accepted, before his presidency was approved. That was later denied by the university.

The president-elect vowed to meet student representatives once a month.

Wilfred Wong Ying-wai, council chairman and head of the search committee, said Chan had been identified as one of six finalists after the committee interviewed 31 scholars from a pool of about 1,300.

'As Professor Chan led way ahead of the second-best candidate, we decided that there was no need to provide two candidates for students to elect - a process which may cause disaster, as has happened in other institutions before,' Wong said.

Baptist University recently ranked 307 in the Times Higher Education league table of universities.