The University of Hong Kong has officially announced Chinese-American scholar Zhang Xiang as its recommendation for the next president and vice-chancellor of the school.

In an email sent to alumni from the registrar on Wednesday morning, the school said that the selection committee – set up by the school’s governing council – has recommended Zhang’s appointment. Students at the school also received a similar email.

zhang xiang
Zhang Xiang. Photo: Stand News.

“The recommendation of the Selection Committee will be considered by the Council at a meeting to be held on the afternoon of December 15, 2017,” it read.

Zhang will be meeting students and answering questions this Friday from 11am to 12pm at the school’s Rayson Huang Theatre. A similar session for alumni will be held from 12:30pm to 1:30pm.

The email added that Zhang “is a renowned scholar with outstanding academic accomplishments” and currently a professor at University of California, Berkeley.

Local media reported weeks ago that Zhang received the recommendation from the selection committee following a seven-to-four secret ballot at a meeting on November 30. The other three candidates are two scholars from the US and UK, and a senior teaching staff member at the university.

File Photo: HKFP.

Ming Pao also reported that in Zhang’s candidacy proposal, he said the university should actively approach mainland Chinese universities and the central government’s education ministry to receive more national funding. His candidacy has received the backing of University of Hong Kong governing council chair Arthur Li.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen previously said that he did not vote for Zhang.

Zhang will succeed incumbent vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson, who resigned in February ahead of his contract’s scheduled date of completion in 2019. He is due to leave his post at the end of next month to take the helm at Edinburgh University in Scotland.

Mathieson’s term was dogged by controversy after he compared the actions of student activists to the UK’s Hillsborough disaster, and after he signed an anti-Hong Kong independence statement.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.