Professor Tony F Chan became the 3rd President of HKUST on 1 September 2009. Under his leadership, HKUST’s global visibility and recognition has significantly increased, with wide international media coverage, strategic partnerships established with world-renowned institutions, and invitations to global platforms such as the World Economic Forum in Davos. The University’s global ranking has improved consistently throughout his leadership — currently 36th in the world (QS), 4th in Asia (QS), top 3 among young universities globally (QS & THE), and 13th in the Global Employability University Ranking (THE). During his term, the University has transitioned smoothly from a three year to a four year undergraduate curriculum, with major changes such as adopting a university-wide core curriculum and School-based admission. In the most recent UGC-led HK-wide Research Assessment Exercise 2014, HKUST has attained an outstanding result, with world-leading and internationally excellent levels for 70% of its research submissions, the highest among all other local institutions. He also championed the use of new technology in education and HKUST was the first university in Asia to offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on both Coursera and edX. Several new major infrastructure projects have been either built or developed — with major donations raised — for the university to achieve its academic and research mission — including three major academic buildings, as well as a Conference Lodge, a graduate residence hall, and a 1000-seat multi-purpose auditorium. The number of Named Professorships increased from 9 seats from its establishment in 2012 to over 30 seats now.
Before joining HKUST, President Chan was Assistant Director of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate at the US National Science Foundation from 2006 to 2009, the largest directorate at NSF, and guided and managed research funding in astronomy, physics, chemistry, mathematical science, and material science. He received his BS and MS degrees in Engineering from Caltech and his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University. He pursued postdoctoral research at Caltech as Research Fellow, and taught Computer Science at Yale University before joining UCLA as Professor of Mathematics in 1986. He was appointed Chair of the Department of Mathematics in 1997 and served as Dean of Physical Sciences from 2001 to 2006. He was one of the principal investigators who made the successful proposal to the NSF to form the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, and served as its Director from 2000-2001.
President Chan is an elected member of the US National Academy of Engineering, an IEEE Fellow, a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served on the editorial boards of many journals in mathematics and computing, including SIAM Review, SIAM Journal of Scientific Computing, the Asian Journal of Mathematics, and is one of the three Editors-in-Chief of Numerische Mathematik. He co-wrote the proposal to start a new SIAM Journal of Imaging Sciences and serves on its inaugural editorial board till 2012.
President Chan is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, President’s Advisory Council of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Scientific Advisory Board of the University of Vienna, International Advisory Board of Academic Ranking of World Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Board of Trustees of Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia, RIKEN Advisory Council of Japan, and the United States Committee of 100. He is also a Founding Member of The Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, the President of the Hong Kong Institution of Science, and a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences and a member of the Advisory Committee on Innovation and Technology of the Hong Kong Government. President Chan was a member of the Selection Committee for the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences in 2012 and 2013. He is the Chair of Nevanlinna Prize Committee for the International Congress of Mathematicians 2018 (ICM 2018) (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Strathclyde.
President Chan’s professional field is computational mathematics, with interests including image processing and computer vision, physical circuit design and computational brain mapping. He has published over 200 refereed papers and was one of the most cited mathematicians in the world. He has mentored over 35 PhD students and 25 postdoctoral fellows.