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朱 经 武 仍 将 继 续 休 斯 敦 大 学 的 高 温 超 导 研 究

Chu to Head Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
While Continuing Superconductivity Research at UH

朱 经 武 教 授 出 任 香 港 科 技 大 学 校 长 后, 仍 将 以 非 受 薪 形 式 与 美 国 德 州 的 休 斯 敦 大 学 德 州 超 导 中 心 保 持 联 系, 继 续 从 事 高 温 超 导 的 研 究。

以 下 分 别 是 休 斯 顿 大 学 和 达 拉 斯 晨 报 11 月 20 日 的 新 闻 报 导:

休 斯 顿 大 学 新 闻 报 导:

UH's Chu to lead Hong Kong school
But physicist to continue research here

Nov. 20, 2000

Superconductivity physicist Paul Chu, the University of Houston's top faculty star, has been named the next president of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The appointment, announced in Hong Kong today and beginning in July 2001, calls for Chu to lead the institution for "a few years" and then return full time to UH. It also will allow him to direct his UH superconductivity team's research by e-mail and during periodic visits to Texas.

"I really had no desire to be a president, but this was such a unique situation it was too good to turn down," said Chu, 58, who will retain his endowed faculty chair at UH but not be paid for it. "It will put me in a position to help the Hong Kong school maintain its current direction and realize its promise, continue my own work in superconductivity and forge a collaboration between the two institutions."

Chu, who also speaks Cantonese and Putonghua, said he wouldn't have accepted the Hong Kong job had its governing board not allowed him to continue his UH research. He estimated he will spend two months a year at UH during the presidency.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is one of three tier-1 research institutions in Hong Kong. Only 9 years old, it has nevertheless attained a "very-good, world-class" reputation, said Philip Altbach, director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, thanks to an enormous influx of resources. It is attempting to become the MIT of the Far East.

Chu has been UH's most prominent professor since his 1987 discovery of a compound that allows electricity to flow without resistance at a temperature higher than the boiling point of nitrogen -- high-temperature superconductivity. Considered the Holy Grail of the field, it is expected to lead to better ways to store energy, propel trains and transmit electricity.

The discovery earned Chu a host of awards and honors, including the National Medal of Science in 1988 and U.S. News & World Report's Best Researcher in the United States distinction in 1990. The Texas Legislature set up the Texas Center for Superconductivity, or TCSUH, a multimillion-dollar research facility supported by a combination of federal and state funds and private endowments. Located in a $22.5 million building, it staffs 268 people and consistently operates with a budget of more than $6 million.

Although Chu will retain a role at UH, colleagues and observers called his departure a body blow to the Houston university. They noted that his departure for 10 months a year is bound to affect the academic perception of UH, faculty and student recruiting and donations and grants.

They also noted that other scientists who became presidents but pledged to continue their lab work -- former Rockefeller University president and current Caltech President David Baltimore and former University of California-Berkeley President Chang-Lin Tien, for instance -- were considered unable to.

"Would we prefer to have Paul Chu here 100 percent of the time?" asked UH President Art Smith. "Sure. Do I have any doubt TCSUH will sustain its momentum? No. The research is being conducted by scores of people, and Paul is going to Hong Kong as a president, not a faculty member; any advances by Paul's team are UH's intellectual property. You always have to deal with perceptions, but I don't see that as much of a problem."

Chu said he knows doing both jobs will be very demanding, but said he was encouraged by Chang-Lin Tien's advice that "you can do it if you do it right." Smith said that though he didn't discourage Chu, he told him the record indicates very few people are able to continue their research while being a president.

Noting that his superconductivity discovery occurred under a similar arrangement, Chu said he prays his team can achieve a similar breakthrough now. As director of the Solid State Physics Program at the National Science Foundation in Washington in 1987, he hit on the combination of elements that superconducts during one of many trips to UH to do research.

"Actually, departures like Paul's can strengthen a department," said Rick Smalley, Rice University's Nobel laureate chemist. "It shows that UH can spawn terrific science, that it bred and nurtured Paul. It's a lasting legacy and it may open opportunities for someone else to emerge. Such departures happen to all great universities."

Smalley said Chu can competently continue his superconductivity research for a couple of years while based in Hong Kong, but if the presidency continues for, say, five years, it could dwindle to irrelevancy his research contribution.

Chu announced in 1997 he would be stepping down as director of TCSUH to concentrate on his research as soon as a national successor was found, but three years later a national search has yet to yield that person. Chu said Sunday he hopes to have a successor named by the spring.

Chu, the 2000 winner of the Esther Farfel Award, UH's highest award, becomes the third consecutive winner of the award to leave UH. Political science professor and 1998 winner James Gibson joined Washington University in St. Louis in 1999, and health law professor and 1999 winner Mark Rothstein is leaving next month to head a bioethics center at the University of Louisville.

Chu, whose $300,000 salary makes him UH's highest-paid professor, will make roughly the same at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Hong Kong's universities are reputed to pay the world's highest academic salaries, one reason the young school so quickly has been able to forge a good reputation.

"A high-profile name like Chu can only enhance that," said Altbach, who has taught at the University of Hong Kong, the city's oldest university. "People in Hong Kong are especially impressed by that. The question is how much Chu can do in a few years -- it usually takes a president a while to become familiar with a university's academic and social environment."

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is styled on the American higher education model (unlike Hong Kong's other schools, which were created by the British) and boasts just over 7,000 students and 500 faculty. About 45 minutes from downtown Hong Kong, it has a scenic setting -- atop a mountain overlooking Clear Water Bay on the Kowloon peninsula.

Chu, who obtained his bachelor's degree from Ckheng-Kung University in Taiwan before coming to the United States to do his graduate work at Fordham and UC-San Diego, said he has turned down other such presidential offers in the past and had to be convinced to take this one.

He said there was "no chance" of him falling in love with the job and location and deciding to stay.

 

达 拉 斯 晨 报 新 闻 报 导:

Houston physicist takes foreign job
Top professor to lead Hong Kong program but keep Texas ties

11/20/2000

HOUSTON - The man who put the University of Houston on the map with breakthroughs in the high-technology field of superconductivity will become president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in July.

The official announcement is scheduled for Monday.

"This is really an unusual opportunity for me," said physicist Paul C.W. Chu, 58, whose discoveries could change the way electricity is generated, transmitted and used.

Hong Kong officials have agreed to let him maintain ties to Houston, keeping his endowed professorship and his tenure. They have also agreed that he can continue supervising his research team at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston, which he founded.

"I can do my research here. I can do the administration over there," Dr. Chu said. "They need someone to push the university to greater recognition, and I'll try to do that." He said he plans frequent visits to his lab and a permanent return to Houston after no more than five years.

Dr. Chu gained fame in 1987 when he demonstrated that electricity would flow through some materials without the usual resistance at low but attainable temperatures. The discovery has implications for such things as magnetic levitation to run frictionless trains.

The news of Dr. Chu's departure, even if not permanent, was unsettling in Houston.

"He's one of our treasures, and it's a hard thing for us to see this happen," said Jim Kollaer, president of the Greater Houston Partnership, a business promotion group. But because Dr. Chu is keeping Houston ties, it also could expand the city's horizons in the Far East, he said.

University of Houston president Arthur Smith said he expects questions from Houston civic leaders, the campus community, the Legislature and the private companies that have invested in Dr. Chu's research.

"I'd rather have 100 percent of Paul," Dr. Smith said, but "I believe we can satisfy all those questions. ... We see this is as a great opportunity for both Paul and the University of Houston."

Dr. Chu said the move is not driven by unhappiness or even restlessness. He likes his situation and his salary, he said. He is the highest-paid professor at the university at more than $200,000 a year. He has turned down previous offers and at first rejected Hong Kong.

But the school's recruiters kept after him and persuaded him of the benefits of seeking a new experience in a new place, he said. The Hong Kong school is matching his Houston salary, and he will keep his T.L.L. Temple Chair of Science at UH on an unpaid status.

The superconductivity center at Houston is 13 years old and well-established, with funding from the state and federal government and private companies, Dr. Chu said. "I think the center is mature enough now to go through some minor personnel changes," he said.

Dr. Chu announced two years ago his plans to give up the directorship of the center to focus on research. The search for a replacement director has been under way for more than a year, and Dr. Smith said Dr. Chu's move may open the door for another prominent figure.

After a meeting Friday, Dr. Chu appeared to have reassured the superconductivity center family. "I think they were supportive. Of course, we cannot say we were happy," said Kamel Salama, assistant center director. "As long as his research group is here in Houston, I expect his home base will be in Houston."

Dr. Chu made his big discovery in superconductivity - the transmission of electricity through a material without the resistance found in ordinary materials - in a Houston campus lab in January 1987. He and his team achieved stable superconductivity in a special metallic compound at 93 degrees Kelvin (-292 Fahrenheit), using liquid nitrogen as a coolant.

The discovery created a sensation and triggered a bidding war for Dr. Chu's services.

In 1988, Dr. Chu turned down an opportunity to join the University of California at Berkeley after officials in Texas and Houston went to great lengths to keep him.

Part of the package used to retain him in Houston was creation of TCSUH, the superconductivity center. The center moved into a new building in 1992 and has grown rapidly to 264 faculty, staff and students. It has contracts with companies such as DuPont to develop new technology.

Earlier this month, the University of Houston won a court battle with the University of Alabama at Huntsville over patent rights to the compound Dr. Chu used to achieve superconductivity - yttrium barium copper oxide. Dr. Chu applied for the patent after some of his researchers moved to Huntsville shortly after the discovery.

"That means that a cloud that has been hanging over the ownership of the intellectual property for some 11 or 12 years has now been completely dispelled," Dr. Smith said.

The Hong Kong school began organizing in 1988 and started accepting students in 1991. It occupies a new hillside campus overlooking the sea. Enrollment is 7,200.

Officials at the school - in the former British colony recently annexed to mainland China - are aiming for the top rank among world scientific and technological universities, Dr. Chu said.

Dr. Chu was born in China and educated in Taiwan and the United States. He speaks the two most important dialects of Chinese - Mandarin and Cantonese. He worked at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey and Cleveland State University in Ohio before coming to Houston in 1979.

Dr. Chu is married and has two children.

He said he plans to keep his home in Houston to ease travel to Hong Kong.

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