Investing in the future: new president's vision for strategic growth

Chen Longgen

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Professor Way Kuo took the helm at CityU on 14 May. While specifics of his strategies on steering the University along the path to further excellence are yet to be mapped out, he arrives with a vision of long-term development.

Professor Kuo points out in an interview with Linkage, an

internal publication, that CityU has come a long way in a short period, with excellent resources, many strong programmes, some of the best faculties and a clear applications-oriented research mission. "But we will continue to invest in the strategic areas of excellence in order to steer the University to new heights," says Professor Kuo.

Among the areas to be explored are energy development and biomedical environment subjects. "Energy shortages and ageing populations are two major issues facing the world. There is huge potential in both these areas," says Professor Kuo. "We're going to have star advisory boards to guide us on academic development and administration. Board members will be top-notch scholars from the US, mainland China and Taiwan, as well as Hong Kong."

Retention and recruitment of elite talent, especially in areas of strategic importance to the development of the University, will also be one of Professor Kuo's highest priorities. Quality faculty and students have always been considered the two components that make an institution great and provide valuable service to society, he emphasizes.

"We need to prepare competitive packages to attract the best faculty which, in turn, will attract the best students," Professor Kuo says. "We will look for the best possible compensation for the existing faculty and staff. The rewards to our staff will be merit-based, giving priority to niche and strategically important areas. We'll empower our staff to perform in both research and teaching and hold them accountable." To encourage accountability, the president hopes to set aside special funds each year to reward excellent performance in teaching and research. These rewards would be evaluated on the basis of a series of pre-determined benchmarks.

"At the same time, we will create a healthy and pleasant working environment for our colleagues," adds Professor Kuo. "We will introduce a positive and proactive management culture, and respond timely to staff needs and requests. Management will go the extra mile to visit potential candidates in recruiting top-flight faculty and staff."

Professor Kuo sees research and teaching as inseparable components of higher education. "Eat well, exercise well, and you'll have a healthy body," Professor Kuo says, drawing an analogy. "A tip of the balance either way will result in a fat body or lack of nutrition."

Professor Kuo will pay special attention to building strong partnerships with leading institutions in the US, mainland China and Taiwan, such as in jointly developing academic agenda, degree programmes and research centres and through leveraging each other's strengths.

Professor Kuo values open communication and looks forward to having more discussions with faculty and students on a broad range of subjects, including issues facing the University, such as lack of space, applied research development, the transition from a three- to four-year curriculum structure and establishing a culture and system to promote fundraising.

As the president, Professor Kuo sees himself as the catalyst to moving things along rapidly to enable the University to grow and excel in meeting the demands and challenges of a rapidly changing higher education scene, both locally and internationally. Among the pressing issues will be internationalising the campus and broadening students' horizons. The University will increase the intake of non-local students. In addition to student feedback, teachers will also be evaluated by other means to enhance teaching quality.

Professor Kuo looks forward to the opportunity to work with his colleagues towards a com

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