Academia Sinica member Wu Maw-kuen (吳茂昆) has been appointed minister of education, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) announced yesterday.
Hsu praised Wu, who is scheduled to take office on Thursday, for his distinguished contributions and experience in the areas of higher education and scientific research, saying he is “very suitable to serve as education minister.”
The physicist was named to take over the post left vacant by Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), who resigned last week over a controversy surrounding his alleged interference in the appointment of National Taiwan University (NTU) president-elect Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔).
Premier William Lai (賴清德) approved Pan’s resignation on Saturday.
Lai the next day said that the role of the education minister carries heavy responsibility, and that whoever takes over the position is tasked with far more duties than simply resolving the NTU predicament.
Wu, 68, has a doctorate in physics from the University of Houston and has served as head of the now-defunct National Science Council, at the Institute of Physics at the Academia Sinica and at National Dong Hwa University in Hualien County.
The National Science Council was in 2014 upgraded to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Pan drew public criticism over his refusal to approve the appointment of Kuan, who was on Jan. 5 elected to succeed Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池), whose tenure as NTU president ended in June last year.
However, Kuan has since been accused of plagiarism and a conflict of interest, which has cast doubt on the legitimacy of his election and prevented him from taking office on Feb. 1 as scheduled.
Last month, more allegations surfaced accusing Kuan of having illegally taught in China since 2005.
Although the accusations were later resolved, Pan continued to ask Kuan to answer the allegations.
Due to the delay in approving Kuan’s appointment, the education ministry was accused of interfering in NTU’s autonomy.
A group of NTU professors, students and alumni on Thursday last week jointly filed a complaint with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office accusing Pan of nonfeasance.
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