University System of Taiwan (UST) head Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗) has come under criticism from a number of UST professors, who say he has monopolized influential posts within the experimental system and hoarded certain benefits.
The UST is an experimental system composed of the National Yang Ming University (NYMU), the National Central University, the National Tsing Hua University and the National Chiao Tung University (NCTU). The member universities jointly hire staff, recognize students transferring within the system and share other resources.
According to insiders, the system — currently kept afloat by funds provided by each of the four institutions — was designed so that its main administrator would not receive a salary, but would be provided with a car and personal driver.
Sources pointed to previous discontent shared by some faculty members within the system about Tzeng, Liu Chao-han (劉兆漢) and Wu Yan-hwa (吳妍華), who appeared to be taking turns at being UST head.
Sources said that after the UST’s founding in 2003, Liu was the first head and “swapped” with Tzeng after stepping down, with Liu then becoming the vice president of the Academia Sinica and Tzeng becoming UST head. When Tzeng was asked to be the Executive Yuan’s minister without portfolio, Wu took over as head until 2012. Later, Tzeng returned to academia and became the system’s leader again.
The sources said Tzeng recently asked NYMU to allocate him a dorm room in the building housing the university’s innovation incubator in Taipei, and was hired by NCTU as a lecturer in the college of biological science and technology.
The sources called on the Control Yuan to look into the issue and investigate whether the system was abusing the resources pooled by the four universities, adding that control of university resources should not be monopolized by any single group.
As the system lacks legal basis, the sources said, why should it be maintained by the universities’ funding. They added that if it were not for the system, professors not teaching at one of the universities would be unable to secure dorm space.
The sources said that Tzeng helped Wu become NCTU president, laying the foundation for a move to “force” the university into giving him employment and dorm space.
“I would like to see Tzeng approach the National Taiwan University and ask for a dorm room or apply with National Cheng Kung University to be hired as a lecturer,” one of the sources said.
In response to the allegations, Tzeng confirmed that he was set to become an NCTU lecturer, hired on special funds. However, he said that the university itself was not footing the bill, but rather the funds would be coming from the university’s alumni association.
In regards to the dorm space, Tzeng said the UST is headquartered at NYMU and that he had asked for a dorm room on campus, for which he is paying the rent, he added.
“While the system provided me with a car and driver, I have dismissed the driver and drive to work myself,” Tzeng said.
“Serving as UST head is not a paid job. Taiwanese society should be thankful that there are still people like me,” Tzeng said, adding that he was in essence a “volunteer” for the UST.
Wu said the NCTU is planning on researching how the brain operates and decided to lean on Tzeng’s expertise in the area, adding that the university was not paying him from administrative funds or the school’s foundation.
All expenses are paid by the university’s alumni association, Wu said.
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