“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”- The Joint Statement by The Hong Kong University Students’ Union and Academic Staff Association of The University of Hong Kong in the Interim Provostship

 

Currently, the media reported the controversy towards the status of Professor K.H. Tam’s Interim Provostship. The selection of the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University has been halted for over two years. During this period, Tam claims himself as “Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor” instead of “Interim Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor”. The Hong Kong University Students’ Union (“HKUSU”) and Academic Staff Association of The University of Hong Kong (“HKUASA”) express our utmost concerns.

It is unusual that Professor Tam has been the Interim Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for over three years. For recent instance, Professor Terry Au, the Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Staffing and Resources), had taken her interim role for four months only. It was reported that Professor Peter William Mathieson, the then Chairman of the Selection Committee of Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, expressed that the selection process should be resumed by the new President and Vice-Chancellor. However, the Council of the University has not discussed this matter since August 2016. Few days ago, media reported that the recruitment of this post was removed by the Human Resource Section from their website. The university spokesperson replied that, if there is no suitable candidate in the process of searching and selecting, the program will be suspended and then restarted. Yet, the authority has not provided a concrete timetable till now.

The title of Professor Tam is “Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor” in different official documents, including but not limited to the official emails and his website biography. Yet, according to the issued emails, the title of Professor Tam was “Acting President and Vice-Chancellor” from February to July, when Tam was taking the acting role, which is a fair practice. Both the interim provostship and the acting presidentship are transitional, but obviously, there is a different way of handling his title. HKUSU and HKUASA hereby ask for an explanation from Professor Tam.

In accordance with the Statute of the University of Hong Kong, an international selection of the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University has to be conducted. It is a full-time post as well. Recently, student representatives of the Selection Committee have left the University, and no meetings have been convened since Professor Mathieson left his role. Thus, it is a doubt that whether the Committee could continue to be functioning. HKUSU and HKUASA hereby urge the University to dissolve the current Selection Committee and resume the selection process immediately after the new appointment of the Council members in January 2019.

The Hong Kong University Students’ Union Academic Staff Association of The University of Hong Kong

5 November 2018