Thursday, 5 June 2014

The curious case of Cherian George

Update 7 Jan 2015: Former professor Cherian George challenges NTU to reveal why he was denied tenure — twice
Former journalist Cherian George has had enough

After almost a year skirting around the issue, the former Nanyang Technology Univesity professor has challenged his previous employer to lay bare the facts behind his denial of tenure in 2013 that forced him to seek employment abroad.

George, who has been working at Hong Kong's Baptist University as an Associate Professor since last August, wrote on his blog late on Tuesday that he had no choice but to speak up after NTU President Bertil Andersson's latest comments to influential education website Times Higher Education.

"I have moved on, but unfortunately the NTU president’s unprovoked smear left me no choice but to respond with the facts. I have done so and have nothing more to add," said George in an email to Yahoo Singapore on Wednesday.

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Tenure denied due to “reputational risk”: Cherian George
Former Nanyang Technological University (NTU) professor Cherian George revealed in a blog post that his denial of tenure at the university in 2013 could have been politically motivated, when he found it necessary to respond to remarks made recently by university president Bertil Andersson that could potentially hurt his academic standing.

In an interview with Times Higher Education, Prof Andersson said, “Dr George “was subjected to the same scrutiny as everyone else” in the institution’s tenure process. He added that “one can have different opinions if that academic decision [by] our tenure committee was right or not. That is an academic decision. But the decision was not political.”

Writing in his blog post, Prof George had asked Prof Andersson to retract his statement, to which he eventually issued a clarification that “there was no intention to lower the reputation or standing of Dr George in his field of work”.


Journalism professor Cherian George rebuts NTU's comments

Journalism professor Cherian George has rebutted comments made by his former employer, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), that imply he was forced to leave the university as he was unable to meet its academic standards.

NTU president Bertil Andersson, in an interview with Times Higher Education last month, had said the decision to deny Dr George tenure was an academic decision and not a political one.

Dr George, who lectured at NTU's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, was twice denied tenure - in 2009 and in 2013. NTU's decision led to speculation that it was politically motivated due to Dr George's past criticism of the Government.


The curious case of Cherian George

The Nanyang Technological University probably has its reasons for denying Cherian George tenure a second time, but in the public interest, it might want to make its reasons known. Those who have been tracking the matter online – not on MSM – may know by now that Dr George might have to leave the university within a year, according to NTU rules.

That’s what students who met Dr Benjamin Hill Detenber, chair of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, told yahoo news.

“Dr Detenber said tenure-track professors employed in NTU first get a three-year contract before they are put up for consideration for a tenure contract. If they fail to get a tenure contract at the first attempt, they would then be granted another three-year contract. If they fail at the second attempt, they would be then allowed to stay in the University for another year, before being asked to leave,” the students said in a statement.

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The sad case of Cherian George


I am so sorry to hear that journalism professor Cherian George’s appeal for tenure has been rejected by Nanyang Technological University (NTU). It is sad that one of Singapore’s finest journalists won’t be able to teach journalism any longer at a university in his own country.

Young Singaporeans could learn so much from him — a journalist who won in-house awards when he was with the Straits Times, the author of the noted book of commentary, Singapore: The Air-Conditioned Nation, an academic with impeccable credentials who graduated from Cambridge, obtained a Master’s in journalism from Columbia University, did his PhD in communication from Stanford. Cambridge, Columbia and Stanford — that must be the academic equivalent of a hat-trick.

And in between those academic exploits, he authored at least one notable book. What more could be required to teach even at NTU, ranked among the top 100 universities in the world? This man’s been through the top 10!

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Cherian speaks up about NTU’s tenure rejection

For the first time, academic Cherian George has given his side of the story on twice being denied tenureship by NTU.

In his blog, he calls his exit from the university a forced on, that it was the university that wanted him to apply for tenureship the second time round and said NTU’s stringent process does not stand to scrutiny in his case

On his move to HK Baptist University, George said he was impressed with the media departments in the universities there and they welcomed him more warmly than those in Singapore.



Ex-NTU prof Cherian George accepts Hong Kong position after tenure rejection
Yahoo Newsroom - Former journalist Cherian George, the academic whose tenure rejection by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) caused much backlash against the institution last year, has accepted a position in Hong Kong. (Yahoo! file photo)

Former journalist Cherian George, the academic whose tenure rejection by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) caused much backlash against the institution last year, has accepted a position in Hong Kong.

He announced on his blog recently, "This August, I’ll be starting work at Hong Kong Baptist University’s school of communication. It’s a move that will let me continue my journalism research, teaching and advocacy while remaining in Asia. That I can’t do so in my homeland is my loss, but I’m hopeful that this will be made up for by the stimulation of an invigorating new environment."

He also clarified what happened last year — “for the sake of closure” — in the post.



Cherian George's Denial of Tenure and the Implications for the Singapore Public

The issue of Associate Professor Cherian George’s denial of tenure in Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communications bears consequences for both the Singapore public, NTU administration and for significant political factions within the Singapore government. This is especially glaring, given NTU’s international standing and branding as a global institution of merit.

Ranked 47th globally by QS World University Rankings in 2012, a jump of 11 places from its 2011 ranking, NTU is ranked as the fastest-rising university in the QS Global Top 50, and 4th in the world among young elite universities, according to QS World University Rankings Top 50 Under 50. NTU’s College of Engineering is the largest in the world, with its research output considered amongst the top five globally.

In October 2012, NTU entered the Times Higher Education World University Rankings’ top 100 list, coming in at the 86th position after moving up 83 places from its 2011 ranking of 169. In July 2012, Microsoft Academic Search website ranked NTU’s overall engineering, according to the number publications and H-Index criteria, as the world’s 12th most significant within the last 10 years.

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Outspoken academic Cherian George takes up post at Hong Kong Baptist University

A Singaporean academic and former journalist who has had disagreements with the city-state's government is to take up a job at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Cherian George said he would start in August as an associate professor. The head of the university's journalism department, Steve Guo Zhongshi, confirmed George's appointment on an initial contract of three years. George's move to Hong Klong comes after he was twice denied tenure at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

"I'm impressed by how Hong Kong academics, students and the public have succeeded in vigorously defending academic freedom. [Hong Kong] universities have excellent media scholars who are deeply engaged in society's issues, and the idea of working alongside them is very attractive," George said.

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In defence of Cherian George

I am proud to consider Cherian George a friend. While he is not all that much older than me, I do remember reading his articles in the Straits Times as I grew up.

For a large part of his stint in ST, I was perhaps probably too young to truly understand everything he was trying to say back then, since in those days a lot more was said between the lines than in the lines themselves. But I always understood that he was usually criticizing the Government in some way or other.

Those of us with longer memories, who are older and remember life in Singapore before the internet and globalisation, know that Cherian has always been independent-minded and unafraid to speak truth to power, however unpalatable that may be to those in power.


Journalism professor Cherian George to join Hong Kong university in August

Dr George will take up the post of associate professor under an initial contract for three years, the South China Morning Post reported today. The move was confirmed by the university.
That I can't do so in my homeland is my loss, but I'm hopeful that this will be made up for by the stimulation of an invigorating new environment.


This August, I'll be starting work at Hong Kong Baptist University's school of communication.

It's a move that will let me continue my journalism research, teaching and advocacy while remaining in Asia.

related:
Petition over NTU's decision to deny professor tenure
NTU rejects appeal by professor against decision not to grant tenure

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Journalism professor Cherian George to join Hong Kong university in August

Dr George will take up the post of associate professor under an initial contract for three years, the South China Morning Post reported today. The move was confirmed by the university.

The 49-year-old was previously a journalism professor at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and a former Straits Times journalist.

He left his teaching position at NTU in February after his tenure application to the university was denied last year and his appeal turned down.

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People that the PAP fear?

“Outspoken academic Cherian George takes up post at Hong Kong Baptist University

He needs no introduction as the hubbie of ST’s editor, brudder-in-law to the Malay minister, and an academic and former journalist who has had disagreements with the PAP govt since the 1980s. Seeing no future in journalism, he became an academic. In 2009, he was made an NTU associate professor but denied tenure. In 2010, NTU denied the school’s attempt to renew his position as head of journalism. He was denied tenure again last year and had to “move on” and out of S’pore.

Is it not surprising that The Reporters Without Borders 2014 Press Freedom Index ranked Hong Kong at 61 and Singapore at 150 out of 180 nations?

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Freedom From the Press by Cherian George
An insider’s account of the taming of journalism in Singapore

IN the era of the New Normal, which started long before Singapore’s press corps and political leaders acknowledged, then proclaimed its existence last year after two almost freak election results, former Straits Times journalist Cherian George is better known for his project of advocating for a fairer and more balanced blogosphere where responsible citizen journalists empowered by an adoption of credible journalistic standards shift towards a full spectrum of views pro-PAP, anti-PAP, and everything in between. With this book, he may be justly remembered for fostering an alternative media practising calibrated, if contentious journalism to challenge a state practising calibrated control of the new media.

It is all too easy to forget that Dr Cherian George is an associate professor at the journalism division of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University.

Combining his different hats as social commentator, academic researcher, and home grown journalist, George’s work is equal parts journalistic narrative, popular commentary, and theoretically-informed analysis of how free Singapore’s press is, how it got that way, and how the SPH press corps operates today.

related: ABOUT THE BOOK