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This finds me reeling from the beginning of yet another academic year but with the satisfaction of knowing that DEB produced another group of well-qualified environmental life science graduates by the end of last semester. I hope they will be able to find jobs in these economically depressed times. As I mentioned in my previous missive, June was to be the time that The University of Hong Kong was subject to a Teaching and Learning Quality Process Review undertaken by a panel of overseas experts appointed by the University Grants Committee. The focus of the review was quality assurance mechanisms and processes, with results that would "inform funding decisions" in the long term. DEB was one of the handfull of departments chosen to represent the University. The review was certainly an interesting experience, albeit time consuming for those involved. I am certainly grateful to the staff and students who took part. The review is one task that I am glad that we are now able to put behind us but, frustratingly, we have yet to receive any feedback on our performance.

Looking forward, and on a more positive note, I can tell you that one of our former graduate students, Dr Andy Cornish, rejoined the department in August for a one-year post as a teaching consultant. (You may remember him from such books as The Reef Fishes of Hong Kong. Anyway Ö..) Andyís post is funded by a grant from the Packard Foundation to Dr Yvonne Sadovy (see p. 10). Andy will take up Yvonneís teaching duties, which will free her to devote more time to her work on fishy matters, specifically the management and conservation of spawning aggregations. So, Iíll take this opportunity to say congratulations to Yvonne, and welcome back to Andy.

Readers with longish memories may remember that our last three appointments in DEB were Billy, Kenny, Benny and (now) Andy. There is a pattern here. No, it isnít the names ending in Ėy. Each of these appointees was born and bred in Hong Kong, and are thus the natural custodians of the SARís rich biodiversity. This does not mean that DEB has or will introduce a policy of recruiting only people born in Hong Kong. However, it does begin to rectify the peculiar imbalance that formerly characterised our department whereby the responsibility for teaching, research and conservation of local biodiversity fell upon the shoulders of people who did not regard the SAR as their permanent home. That said, in staff complement - as in natural ecosystems - variety is a good thing.

David Dudgeon




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