SCMP Thursday, November 16, 2000


Physicist heads list for top job


A world famous physicist who has topped the wanted list for a new president at the University of Science and Technology says he is attracted to the job because of the institute's renowned academic strengths.
Speaking from his Texas home yesterday, Professor Paul Chu Ching-wu said he expected to arrive in Hong Kong next month after two other candidates dropped out.
The university is expected to make an announcement on the appointment next week.
"Nothing is official yet," said Professor Chu. "Depending on the announcement, I should be coming in December. I'm seriously considering [taking up the position]. The UST is a great university and many people around the world know it is great in technology.
"There's no doubt it has strong programmes in technology, science, business and even humanities."
Professor Chu declined to comment on whether he was invited by the university or had proposed himself to the search committee.
The winner of the World Congress on Superconductivity's Award of Excellence in 1994, Professor Chu was born in Taiwan and educated there and in the US.
He holds the Thomas Lewis Latane Temple Foundation chair of science at the University of Houston and is also attached to the science institute Academia Sinica, in Taiwan.
After obtaining a Master's and a Bachelor's degrees at Fordham University in New York and Cheng-Kung University in Taiwan respectively, he finished his PhD in physics at the University of California, San Diego, in 1968.
A worldwide search for a new head was launched after Professor Woo Chia-wei, 63, the incumbent and founding President of the institute, announced his resignation in April, half way into a five-year contract. He will leave his office in March.
Rejecting speculation he was quitting because of constant criticism, he said the eight-year-old technology-based university should be led by someone "young and dynamic".
Professor Woo's lavish remuneration package, including a $210,000 monthly salary, had drawn public criticism.
There was also a row over his son and daughter-in-law allegedly being given special treatment after joining the university's staff - claims which were denied - and a dispute over the building of a third heated swimming pool at the university at a time of budget cuts.
Commenting on the claims, Professor Chu said: "I'm not familiar with the situation and I can't say until I am there."
He admitted he was a friend of Professor Woo and that they had known each other since they were graduate students at the University of California in the 1960s.
Professor Woo refused to comment on whether Professor Chu would make a suitable president.
He said that he had known Professor Chu for more than 30 years and that age was not an issue when it came to the position.
A spokeswoman for the University of Science and Technology said they were still waiting for a candidate to confirm whether they would accept the offer.