香港大學校長較早時給我回信，只是強調大學高層一致支持理學院院長作出艱難決定的權力（以及他的責任），原文：The senior management team unanimously supports the Dean’s right (and indeed his obligation) to make difficult decisions …把事情簡化為「權力」單一帶着法律味道的議題，不談任何原則性問題，例如大學的哲學、價值觀、管治等。
Dear Professor Mathieson,
Deletion of the Majors of Astronomy and Mathematics/Physics
Thank you for your letter dated 13 April 2017.
It is noted that the complex subject was reduced to a single, legalistic issue, that of “the Dean’s right (and indeed his obligations)”. Silence prevailed over reason regarding key issues like university philosophy, values, principles and governance.
That “obligations” came in brackets after “right” is an apt description of the present case. The Dean is always emphatic about his power and authority and less than enthusiastic in fulfilling his obligations to the community and the academia. Such behaviour is ill omen for HKU’s future.
Science we now all know is THE future. The Government is pushing for STEM. The Dean and indeed all university colleagues are obliged to expand, strengthen and enrich learning opportunities in science, to prepare students to collectively serve society for its long-term sustainability. To cut study options at this point in time is, as the Dean likes to put it, “simply” wrong because it is against Hong Kong’s interest. If “obligation” had been given due consideration alongside “right”, the Dean should have strove to increase the number of Science Majors, not to reduce it.
On “right”, it would be appreciated if I and the university community could be shown the university statute which confers the Dean the “right” to “notify” the Physics Department early in January 2017 about the “decision” to delete the two Majors well before any deliberation by the Faculty Board or the Senate.
The introduction of even a course, not to mention Majors, requires Faculty Board approval. It follows that their cancellation requires at least Faculty Board approval. By the same token, important decisions relating to Majors fall within the realm of the Senate. The Dean cannot unilaterally delete the two Majors before Faculty Board and Senate approval.
While the senior management may support the Dean in making certain personal decisions, it has the obligation to ensure that those personal decisions are put through due process for transformation into institutional decisions. Otherwise it would become autocratic rule, at odds with true university spirit and contemporary values. I imagine that you are aware of the law case associated with Professor Evans during his time at Queen Mary University of London.
I reiterate that small enrolment number is not a sufficient reason to delete Majors. Imperial College for example runs a “Physics + Music” degree programme. The annual numbers of entrants since 2013 are 0, 2, 2, 0 and 2. But IC takes pride in retaining the programme because it is demanding and attracts bright students. The Astronomy and Mathematics/Physics Majors are in the same category. To delete them on the ground of small student numbers is untenable. It would tell the world that HKU has lost self confidence and academic courage.
I continue to hope that the University has the wisdom to appreciate its responsibility to Hong Kong in terms of science education especially at this juncture in the city’s development. It should not let myopic views like “saving a few dollars today” overshadow its fundamental, long-term education responsibility and obligation. Senior management may choose to support the Dean’s right to make decisions, but it must not agree with the substance of those decisions where it damages university and community interests. I still request that you review the substance of the “decision” to delete the two Majors.
I shall take up your suggestion of contacting the Provost and the Dean. But I shall also await the information on the university statute mentioned above.
Lam Chiu Ying