In these days of rapid global change, spurred on by history-setting technological changes, economic upheavals, and unsettled geopolitical uncertainties, universities as an institution has to adapt in order to preserve its role in society, and meet multiple and new expectations. The challenges are increasingly daunting. Leaders of universities have to navigate and balance between multiple conflicting concerns: institutional autonomy vs stakeholder accountability, local vs global agendas, academic ideals vs political/societal realities, and short vs long term horizons. I’ll speak about the above from my own perspective and experience as an academic leader in the US, East Asia and now Middle East.
President Chan assumed his role as the third president of KAUST in September 2018 after nearly a decade as president of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). HKUST's global visibility and recognition significantly increased during his leadership.
Before joining HKUST, President Chan was Assistant Director of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate at the US National Science Foundation from 2006 to 2009.
He taught Computer Science at Yale University before joining UCLA as Professor of Mathematics in 1986 and was Chair of the Department of Mathematics in 1997 and later Dean of Physical Sciences.
He has served on the editorial boards of many journals.
Amongst his numerous advisory board roles are: member of the Board of Trustees of KAUST, member of the National Academy of Sciences, member of Yidan Prize Foundation Board, President's Advisory Council of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Scientific Advisory Board of the University of Vienna, International Advisory Board of Academic Ranking of World Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Board of Trustees of Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia, RIKEN Advisory Council of Japan, and the United States Committee of 100.
He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Strathclyde.
He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering from Caltech and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University, and he pursued postdoctoral research at Caltech as Research Fellow.