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NTU head says he will not serve another term

2017/03/18 18:09:59

Taipei, March 18 (CNA) National Taiwan University President Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池), who is embroiled in a controversy over academic fraud, announced Saturday that he will not serve another term as the head of the prestigious university after his current term expires in June.

Yang, 63, a professor at NTU College of Medicine and an academician at Academia Sinica, the country's highest research institute, read his statement at a school meeting.

Yang, who assumed the presidency of NTU in June 2013, said that a lot of reports and comments about the scandal are not true, and are not reasonable either to the university or to himself.

"I'll continue to explain to the public to uphold the reputation of the university," he said.

He expressed regret that a "simple incident" of academic integrity has evolved into what he described as "random accusations," saying that he could not agree to the phenomenon of "the media being manipulated by a few people."

He said that he couldn't "bear to see the school continuing to be attacked over the incident."

Nevertheless, he said that "it is time for me to shoulder responsibility" at the first school meeting after an investigation committee completed a review late last month.

Yang said he requested to not to continue to serve as the school's president after his term expires in June this year.

Yang's second term was passed by a school meeting on May 28, 2016, so his request to not to serve will also require the consent of a school meeting.

The school meeting therefore decided to hold a provisional meeting to discuss his request.

Meanwhile, on suggestions by some scholars that Yang "take leave immediately," he responded that there are still a lot of school duties that he needs to handle, including the establishment of a mechanism for academic ethics, and said he will serve out his term before passing the baton to his successor.

Juan Li-jung (阮麗蓉), a researcher at Academia Sinica who, along with four other scholars, recently initiated a drive to redress academic ethics, thanked Yang for deciding not to continue to serve, but still suggested that he "take leave immediately" to facilitate an investigation into academic fraud.

Juan said that Yang decided not serve another term for the harmony of the academic sector rather than to take responsibility for administrative and academic negligence, a decision she termed "disappointing."

Liu Yuan-tsun (劉源俊), president of Soochow University, said he suggested that Yang not continue to serve three months ago, but Yang only announced his decision on Saturday, which Liu described as "too slow, too late, and lacking wisdom."

Liu said that if Yang left his administrative duties before an investigation began at the school, a lot of controversies would not have arisen.

An NTU investigation committee on Feb. 24 meted out disciplinary measures to several professors, including the dismissal of professors Kuo Ming-liang (郭明良) and Chang Cheng-chi (張正琪) for violations of research ethics, while clearing Yang, who was named as co-author in questionable dissertations.

The committee said that Yang being named as co-author in the questionable dissertations was appropriate, and the sections in which Yang was involved had no academic ethics violations.

The committee said it investigated a total 17 dissertations, including two withdrawn ones on cancer research submitted by Kuo's research team to the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2008 and Nature Cell Biology last year.

The committee said that Kuo "purposely" added problematic images to the papers and should assume the greatest responsibility.

Kuo, who led both studies, failed in his duty to provide guidance and supervision to his teams and "clearly" breached academic ethics, it said.

(By Chen Chih-chung and Lilian Wu)