Community & Education Hong Kong

HKU hiring pro-vice-chancellor again, no PhD required

The University of Hong Kong has kicked off another round of global scouring for a pro-vice-chancellor after rejecting law professor Johannes Chan Mun-man in an academic freedom controversy. However, the university did not list a PhD as a requirement for the job, despite the fact that Chan was turned down for not having a doctoral degree, among other reasons.

Requirements for the pro-vice-chancellor, who will be in charge of academic staffing and resources, in the second round of recruitment will be the same as in the first round, said a spokesman for the HKU Council on Tuesday following a meeting, Apple Daily reported.

hku academic freedom controversy

Council members speak after Tuesday’s meeting. Photo: Apple Daily.

According to a job post on HKU’s website, pro-vice-chancellor candidates need to have the following qualifications:

  • A successful track record in creating and implementing distinctive academic programmes within and across disciplines;
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and manage a complex academic organisation;
  • A distinguished record of academic achievement;
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
  • Highest standards of personal integrity;
  • Experience in administration and resource management at a senior level.

The Council has formed a new search committee to recruit the pro-vice-chancellor. During the last round of recruitment, which began last year, the search committee unanimously recommended Johannes Chan, former dean of the Faculty of Law.

Johannes Chan Man-mun. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Johannes Chan Man-mun. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

But the HKU Council voted down Chan’s appointment in a closed door meeting in September. Later a student representative to the Council went against confidentiality rules to reveal some Council members’ reasons for rejecting Chan.

Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, who is a government-appointed member of the Council, said Chan did not qualify for pro-vice-chancellor because he does not have a doctor’s degree. Other reasons for rejecting Chan included that his name was not searched regularly enough on Google Scholar and his supposed “high-profile” support for the city’s pro-democracy movement.

There was a huge backlash against the Council’s decision following the meeting, with students and alumni protesting what they saw as the government’s interference in academic freedom.

HKU hiring pro-vice-chancellor again, no PhD required