Journalism professor Cherian George rebuts NTU's comments

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

SINGAPORE - 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.

Dr George, 49, left for a post at the Hong Kong Baptist University last year and has described his move as a "forced exit". In a blog post last month, he wrote that he could not let Professor Andersson's comment stand uncorrected as it suggested that he "had to leave NTU because of academic shortcomings".

Prof Andersson has since issued a clarification to Times Higher Education, saying he had "no intention to lower the reputation or standing of Dr George in his field of work".

But Dr George, who had originally asked for a retraction of the comment, wrote that the clarification failed to "reduce the sting of his published remarks". "The fair and gentlemanly thing to do would have been to retract his remarks and ensure that no NTU official repeat such words," he wrote.

He added he was assessed to have met the criteria for promotion and tenure in 2009 but was denied that, and given political reasons for the university's decisions.

Dr George in his blog invited NTU to disclose his tenure documents so that the matter could be put to rest. Speaking to The Straits Times from Hong Kong on Tuesday night, he said: "I have moved on, but unfortunately the NTU president's out-of-the-blue remarks could not be left uncorrected."

NTU in a statement on Tuesday night said it has already stated its position on several previous occasions and will not be making any further comments.

dansonc@sph.com.sg