Huang Kuan-tsae (黃光彩)


Huang Kuan-tsae (黃光彩) is the president of National Taiwan Normal University. Members of the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) have accused him of forgery in obtaining his appointment to this position. While the term ‘forgery’ brings to mind cheque fraud and other similar offenses, Dr. Huang is accused of nothing of the sort. In fact, his accusation is an example of the problematic nature of the concept of education in the ROC and Taiwan.

In the ROC, many professional groups are formally examined for their professional suitability. This is done either by a the Examination Yuan or by members of the professional organization that they hope to join. This examination system is at the heart of a number of education problems.

The China Post article that deals with this issue is interesting in that it leaves a clear picture that Dr. Huang is a criminal. A much more detailed explanation of the incident is contained in the Taipei Times.

[It is] also alleged that Huang lied about his work experience. He also said Huang claimed that he served as the “director” of the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore from 1989 to 1993.

However, according to the KMT legislator, a letter from the president of the University of the Singapore addressed to Tu last November indicated that Huang was the institutes’s “program manager” and that he was no longer with the institute as of 1992…While a book coauthored by Huang and used as a proof of his qualifications for his promotion application was published in 1998, Chou said that Huang lied about the publication date and claimed that it was published in 1999.

Many Western observers of this incident might ask “so what?”. For example, Timothy Fox, a foreign professor at the Chinese Cultural University had this to say about the incident,

Does a university president teach classes? Isn’t this a managerial position, rather than a teaching job? It’s nice to have a president who is sympathetic to the needs of teachers, but if he can’t bring in the money and keep the school in the black, then all the teaching credentials in the world are worthless.

The significance of the problems lies in the examination system that I referred to earlier. Dr. Huang may have lied about the date of his publication because there is often a five-year time period placed on publications you can submit for consideration for promotion in the ROC. He may have stated he had a position in Singapore that he did not have because this would be a prerequisite for the position university president in the ROC.

But the real reason that Dr. Huang could have lied about all his personal information is that universities in the ROC have much less control over their appointments than similar institutions in the West. In the USA and Canada, university presidents are appointed by the trustees of the school. While institution presidents are almost always PhD holders with extensive administrative experience, this is not always the case. I personally have knowledge of a junior college president with only a BA promoted to the position because of his handling of the vocational college attached to the school. While I was a little shocked at the time, his performance in the position was perfectly adequate.

But let’s just put it another way, here is an example of another controversy in Taiwan higher education that would be impossible in higher education in the West.

Check this post for more of my reflections on this matter. This post links to announcements that his application for the position was rejected.

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