A Letter from the President

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Dear Colleagues,

You will have heard by now about University Council's resolution on 25 November on the Report of the Independent Committee on Review of Recent Events in the School of Law (IC). The University has been burdened for exactly one year with the turmoil arising from the decision of the School of Law (SLW) not to recommend eight of its staff members for contract renewal in November last year. Hence, on receipt of the IC Report on 18 November and at the request of the Council Chairman, I convened a special Management Board meeting to study the Report and put forward views and recommendations for the consideration of the Council.

The special meeting spread over three sessions and occupied a total of over 16 hours of discussion. Time was taken to go through the findings and recommendations of the IC in great detail, as well as the responses received from the SLW Executive Committee and individual SLW staff members on the Report, to ensure full deliberation of the views presented in these documents. As a result, the Management Board agreed to accept the findings of the IC with exception to its determination that language discrimination is tantamount to indirect racial discrimination. It also embraced the spirit underpinning the IC's various recommendations and made some observations on the practical difficulties in implementing some of them.

The Management Board also arrived at a strong consensus that sanctions should be imposed on the Dean of School of Law for the wrong ways in which he managed the staff evaluation process as identified by the IC, and on two other SLW staff members for making irresponsible accusations based on mere speculation or 'co-incidence'. Possible sanctions were proposed taking into account their appropriateness and acceptability to the University stakeholders. With the Council's decision to accept the IC Report and strongly reprimand these three individuals, I sincerely hope that this sad chapter of the SLW will come to a close.

At the very same meeting of the University Council on 25 November, the University's Strategic Plan 2003-08 was approved. This has indeed reminded us timely of the importance to be looking into the future and not be bothered with the past. As the title of the Strategic Plan aptly depicts, the University should position itself strongly in"Meeting the Challenge of Change". We have to be sensitive to and realistic about the appalling changes that are taking place around us in the higher education sector of Hong Kong. We will be facing unprecedented challenges posed by Hong Kong's economic downturn - threats of severe budget cuts, performance-based funding for teaching and mission-based funding for research. Yet, as the Strategic Plan outlines, CityU is able to thrive if we can focus our mission in producing quality graduates who can combine technical knowledge, intercultural communication skills and creativity to meet the needs of a knowledge-based society.

It will be through our performance only that we win the recognition and support of society, and demonstrate to our stakeholders that CityU is a great university. And, for such to happen, we need a collegial university community where personal differences are put aside for the good of our students and the University as a whole. The mistrust and hostility among the staff members in the School of Law have precluded the School from proper development and progress. It is a painful yet useful lesson for all of us to learn. I call upon all of you, whether you are working in the School of Law or in other faculties and departments, to work in harmony and co-operation. Failure to do so will mean that the University is not putting its time and efforts to the most constructive use; this will certainly harm the interest of our students and the future of the University in the long term.

I know you will make the right choice. Please therefore show your support of the University by your conduct in the challenging days ahead and please also be assured that I will in return continue to dedicate myself to your welfare.

H K Chang
President and University Professor
27 November 2002

 

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