Monday, May 19, 2008

UM VC to be replaced after 6 months?

The writing is on the wall, I think. Although it was reported that the contract of the current UM VC, Rafiah Salim, will be extended by 6 months, it appears likely that she will be replaced after that as the new Minister for Higher Education, Khalid Nordin, has indicated that a search committee will be set up soon to look for a new VC.

I agree with Tony's earlier post on this issue. While Rafiah has been a better VC than her predecessor (Hashim "Billboard" Yaacob), she also has stumbled many times. Tony has listed some of her shortcomings. I have also been very critical of the appointment of Jeffrey Sachs as the first Professor of the Ungku Aziz Chair of Poverty Studies because I saw this as a high profile appointment which was wasteful and produced little returns from a reputational or research standpoint.

Of course, there are others who would disagree with us and I think that some of them have some good points including tempinis, a regular commentator on this blog.

Hopefully, the new search committee will take heed of Tony's advice on this matter which he has written extensively on in the past.

In case anyone is interested, please compare the academic CV of the first Harvard woman president, Drew Gilpin Faust, and that of Rafiah Salim. I know it's an unfair comparison but it's worthwhile to point out that Rafiah served as Dean and Deputy Dean of the law faculty at UM, one of the most prominent faculties in the university with just a Masters degree and that her own UM VC website does not give her CV.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the official UM website has accidentally forgotten to put her CV. Things like this happened in this great country. You might as well find out more about the CV of the TNC (HEP). It would be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Kian Ming,

My wife is an academic of UM. Let me share some points with you. I think even if the higher education minister replaces Rafiah with the President of Harvard, things will not improve.

Why? Very simple. UM and other government universities are parked under JPA. The VC has very limited power. The mojority of professors in UM are far from being world-class standard, and many are deadwood professors. These professors are now holding permanent positions with pension. These so-called "professors" occupy the posts just to earn a living as they are not competent enough to get even get a 'lecturer' post in good foreign universities or they can't stand the working pressure in the private sector.

The current system does not give the VC the authority to sack these deadwood professors and replace them with good ones. Further, many of these deadwood professors are themselves Deans or Heads of Department. The hiring of new academics needs to go through them. They seldom take in young, energetic, enthusiatic, excellent scholors as their new academics. These good CVs will go straight to the rubbish bin because these deadwood professors are afraid that the young good scholars will overtake them in research and later become a threat to their positions. Thus they will only take in more deadwood academics to let UM rot further. If you don't believe in what I just said, try send in your CVs to them. The worst thing is that they don't even acknowledge your CV. They just don't appreciate true scholars at all. Many of my friends with impressive CVs also told me the same story.

In conclusion, if no authority is given to the VC to sack these deadwood professors, nothing will improve from there. PEDIOD.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. Here is my reply to both of you - Why Rafiah Should Stay

Anonymous said...

Interesting who drives UM which drops out of the top 200 rankings never to awake again. The affirmative action by the previous PM to segregate communities and cause disension is very much a case for concern. Further, now that the organs that he has tampered are all in an utter mess much undoing must be done in order to unravel the monsters that he has built over 20 years. UM is one of those lumbering dinosaurs that is not moving with the times and has much emotional luggage from the past. The management are not really academics but politicians more concerned about their turf than to improve the lot of the many. It is sad that Dr M has destroyed much pride and joy of the nation during his office and now the nation has to pay with substandard institutions especially universities that compare incestuously internally rather than benchmarking with the best and emulating what could be the best.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous (whose wife is an academic of UM),

I totally agree your points...Few months ago, My CV couldn't make those 'deadwoods' in UM to accept me.

Fortunately, now with the same CV, I got the job offers from UK (London Museum) and the Netherlands (Leiden Museum).