V-C job switch angers students

July 21, 1995

Hong Kong University has finally settled on a new vice chancellor after a long and difficult search for a successor to Wang Gungwu - but its latest choice has sparked fresh controversy among students.

The university council voted unanimously to appoint Cheng Yiu-chung, the vice chancellor of the City University of Hong Kong, a former polytechnic which took the university name last year.

The decision came after more than a dozen senate members requested more time to consider Professor Cheng's nomination, arguing many members were absent.

This was rejected in a vote after John Bacon-Shone, dean of social services, warned that Professor Cheng might withdraw his candidature if the university was unable to give him an answer before he left for holiday.

"Professor Bacon-Shone, said: "It would be unseemly if we failed a second time (to find a candidate) not because we can't agree among ourselves but because suitable arrangements could not be made while senate members are away on vacation."

Students on both campuses of Hong Kong University and City University staged protests against what they said was a secretive selection process.

Professor Cheng has promised that he would consult students at both his own university and Hong Kong University later this month before deciding whether to accept the offer to head the territory's oldest tertiary institution.

Steven Chu, student union leader at City University, said that if Professor Cheng took up the Hong Kong University post he had a responsibility to do the groundwork for his own replacement.

Hong Kong University's search for a successor to Professor Wang, who was due to retire this month but agreed to stay on until a replacement was found, has several times become mired in controversy.

The university was embarrassed when the names of two candidates were leaked to the media earlier this year. Its embarrassment increased when the candidate nominated by the selection committee was not endorsed immediately, prompting speculation that the university had changed its mind and leading to the candidate withdrawing his name.

Hong Kong's second oldest tertiary institution, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has also launched a search for a new vice chancellor.

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