HKU appoints two Vice-Presidents and one Faculty Dean

The Council of the University of Hong Kong has appointed on October 27 (Tuesday) Professor Max SHEN as the Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Peng GONG as the Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development), and Professor Hualing FU as the Dean of Law, each for a term of five years. The appointments are results of worldwide searches assisted by international executive search firms.

Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) designate Professor Max Shen is an American Chinese. He is currently Chancellor’s Professor and Chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and Professor of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. He is also a Center Director at the Tsinghua-Berkeley Institute in Shenzhen and Honorary Professor and Department Chair of Industrial Engineering at Tsinghua University, China.

Professor Shen obtained his PhD from Northwestern University, USA in 2000, started his academic career as Assistant Professor at the University of Florida in the same year, and joined UC Berkeley in 2004 where he rose through the academic ranks to his present position. PhD students supervised by him now hold positions in top universities in North America, Europe and China including MIT, Oxford, etc. as well as leading technological companies including Google, Facebook, Amazon etc.

Internationally recognized as a top scholar in his field, Professor Shen is a Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the President-Elect of the Production and Operations Management (POM) Society, and the past President of the Society of Locational Analysis of the INFORMS.

Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development) designate Professor Peng Gong is currently Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Science at Tsinghua University, China. Professor Gong obtained his PhD from the University of Waterloo, Canada in 1990. He started his academic career at York University and then the University of Calgary. In 1994, he joined the University of California, Berkeley where he rose through the academic ranks to full Professor in 2001. From 2009, he helped Tsinghua University to re-establish Earth Science and became the founding Chair of its Department of Earth System Science in 2016. More than 30 PhD students and post docs supervised by him now hold academic positions in major American and Chinese universities including UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Tsinghua University, etc.

Professor Gong is an elected Foreign Member of the Academy of Europe (Academic Europaea). Known internationally, he was the Founding Editor-in-Chief of Geographic Information Sciences (now Annals of GIS). He has been appointed as one of the 13 advisers to Future Earth, one of the 19 members of the Earth Commission, and one of the 3 co-chairs of the Lancet Climate Change and Health Commission and Countdown 2030.

Professor Hualing Fu is currently Professor and Warren Chan Professor in Human Rights and Responsibilities in the Department of Law and currently Interim Dean of the Faculty of Law since July 1, 2019. Professor Fu received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1993 from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Canada. He joined HKU in 1997 and became full Professor in 2008. He was Head of the Department of Law from 2008 to 2010 and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Law from 2014 to 2019.

HKU President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Xiang Zhang welcomed the new appointees to the important positions, saying: “As VP (Research), Professor Shen will help to expand the research enterprise of HKU and to strategically grasp opportunities brought about by the entrepreneurial globe. As VP Academic Development, Professor Gong will be in charge of the University’s strategies in recruiting and retaining a world-class and diverse faculty, facilitating a culture of academic excellence, and enabling faculty success at every stage of their career. Professor Fu is no stranger to the University. I am pleased to have him at the helm of the Faculty of Law to bring it to new heights.”

Professor Terry Au, Vice President (Academic Staffing and Resources) will retire when her current term expires by the end of December 2020.

Professor Zhang thanked Professor Au for her contributions to the University. He said: “I wish to take this opportunity to convey my deep gratitude to Professor Au for her strong dedication in the past years in bolstering the University’s academic profiles.”

Professor Zhang also thanked Professor Alfonso Ngan for acting as VP Research since February 2020. He said: “I wish to give my heartfelt thanks to Professor Ngan who has provided the able leadership in steering the University’s research development during the gap and guided us through the transition smoothly.”

About the selection process and selection committee
The recommendations for appointment are results of thorough global search and elaborate review and consultation processes, with the sole purpose of attracting the best talents to fill the leadership positions, irrespective of race, nationality, gender, place of origin, political orientation or religious belief. Chaired by the President and Vice-Chancellor, the respective Search Committees comprised another member of the Senior Management Team, senior professoriate staff members from a spectrum of Faculties and disciplines, a student representative (for the Research position) and a member of the Council (for the Academic Development position). The positions were widely and internationally advertised. Close to 200 candidates for each search were identified and approached by an international search firm as a result. The final candidates had a campus visit in Hong Kong where they further met in person with the Search Committee as well as wider stakeholder groups of the University community. The recommendations of appointment were made having taken into account the advice of the Search Committee and the inputs of stakeholders who had met with the candidates.