Published: 2024-03-20

Dean Zhong Bu wants the world to know that Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication produces good research with a social mission. And that, even after aggressively hiring new faculty in recent years, the School is still searching for more talent.

Zhong Bu became the sixth dean of the School, one of the region’s most established and largest, in February 2024. Interviewed about his research goals for the School a month into his appointment, he noted that it is already home to many excellent researchers.

“I also want our school to be known for not just doing very innovative, creative communication studies, but also producing social impact, on a lot of areas, like in healthcare, like the environment, and even the quality of life,” he said. “While we’re still working on this, we also want to rebrand our research to make the whole world know the good research we’re conducting, and that our research is really trying to help the society.”

QS, a ratings agency that does subject rankings, has consistently placed HKBU among the top 100 in the field of Communication and Media Studies. In the Research Assessment Exercise 2020, the University Grants Committee’s rigorous audit of Hong Kong’s public funded universities, the School emerged with the highest proportion of communication and media studies research rated internationally excellent or world leading. “With further support of staff, students and systems this department can build on its strong gains to progress further towards world-class status,” the RAE Report said.

Since then, several new research faculty have been recruited at all levels. For example, Wei Ran arrived from the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a Chair Professor and Meina Liu from George Washington University as a Professor. Others hires include Mateja Kovacic from Oxford University and Vivien Shuo Zhou from the University of Colorado, as well as new PhDs Jiemin Looi (University of Texas at Austin), Keonyoung Park (Syracuse University), Elina Tachkova (Texas A&M), and Sheng Zou (Stanford).

Professor Zhong Bu, Dean of School of Communication

Professor Zhong Bu, Dean of School of Communication

Zhong Bu himself is a recent arrival. He joined in 2022 from Pennsylvania State University to start the School’s new Interactive Media Department.

Asked if the School was still recruiting, he replied, “Yes, in the coming years, we are still thinking of top talent in communication studies, in the field, and we like someone who can not only actively engage in innovative research, but also can teach practical courses at the same time. So we want our new faculty members to join us to create an inclusive research and learning environment in our school.”

He also touched on the delicate subject of Hong Kong’s academic freedom. While the city is home to a disproportionate share of top universities, its academic freedom ranking has suffered following the authorities’ response to the social unrest of 2019.

While agreeing that this was a concern for many academics, Zhong Bu responded that Hong Kong remained “a vibrant and unique platform for conducting communication research”.

He added, “I’d like to say our school upholds the highest standard for academic integrity, academic freedom. We welcome and respect diverse inquiry and academic exploration. So, we welcome researchers from different backgrounds to join us, and so we can jointly build an inclusive environment to explore more in communication studies.”