Mon, Jun 17, 2019 - Page 3 News List

NTU denies political considerations played part in Stanton uncertainty

By Wu Po-hsuan and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

People walk past the National Taiwan University entrance in Taipei on Sept. 5, 2011.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

National Taiwan University (NTU) yesterday denied that political considerations played a part in uncertainty over whether to extend visiting professor William Stanton’s contract.

Stanton, a former American Institute in Taiwan director, was hired by the university last year and helped establish its International College.

However, the university has not yet renewed Stanton’s contract, saying it is still evaluating his teaching and would reach a decision by the end of this month.

Stanton, 72, started working at NTU after teaching at National Tsinghua University for six years.

He was “deeply startled” by the news that his contract might not be renewed, of which the university informed him by e-mail, a faculty member said on condition of anonymity.

Stanton often criticizes China and some influential people at NTU who are “pro-China” are concerned that his continued employment would upset Beijing, the source said.

The issue was of particular concern amid the trade dispute between the US and China, they said.

NTU secretary-general Sun Hsiao-chih (孫效智) denied the claims, saying that Stanton’s continued employment at the university was being decided through a “normal evaluation process.”

NTU dean of academic affairs Ting Shih-tung (丁詩同) said that Stanton was hired on a one-year contract.

While the university initially hoped that having him at the International College would attract students due to his political and foreign affairs experience, the college later shifted focus, Ting said.

The college is now focused more on agricultural technology, genetic research, disaster prevention and smart technology, he said.

NTU Center for General Education director Liu Hsu-tsung (劉緒宗) said that feedback from students who took the course “The Big Picture: How Geography, Trade and Politics Shape Our World,” which Stanton taught with Tung Han-pu (童涵浦), was very good.

He was not aware that the university was unsure about renewing Stanton’s contract, Liu said.

A faculty member who requested anonymity said that Stanton should be kept because of his unique experience and the symbolic nature of employing someone with his background.

As Stanton is actually employed at the Center for General Education and not the International College, he could remain at the center if the college is changing direction, they said.

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