NUS provost Tan Eng Chye will take over as university's president next year

National University of Singapore (NUS) provost Tan Eng Chye was named as the university's new president.
National University of Singapore (NUS) provost Tan Eng Chye was named as the university's new president.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - National University of Singapore (NUS) provost Tan Eng Chye, who led the implementation of a number of groundbreaking initiatives including the University Town residential college programme, was on Friday (July 28) named the 23rd president of the university.

The mathematician, who is an NUS alumnus and who has been the provost for the past 10 years, will succeed the university's current president Tan Chorh Chuan on Jan 1 next year (2018).

NUS said Prof Tan, 55, who holds a PhD and Master of Science in Mathematics from Yale University, is widely acknowledged as being instrumental to the transformation of NUS into a world-class university, and the chief architect of the university's pioneering educational and academic programmes.

As deputy president (academic affairs) and provost since March 2007, he led the conceptualisation and implementation of groundbreaking initiatives that include the University Town Residential College Programme, the thrust towards technology-enhanced learning and a comprehensive programme to prepare NUS undergraduates to be career-ready.

Describing him as "a home-grown leader" who has been with NUS for 32 years, NUS said he is a powerful advocate for global education.

Under his leadership, the proportion of NUS undergraduates who have had overseas educational experiences increased to over 80 per cent. He also underscored the importance of a broad-based education that promotes exploration, curiosity and critical thinking through a comprehensive revamp of the NUS general education curriculum, and by leading the introduction of the grade-free scheme for freshmen.

Prof Tan said he was deeply honoured to be tapped for the top position, but praised the current president for having affirmed NUS' position as a leading global university that strives to contribute to Singapore, and the wider community.

He said to continue to be among the world's great universities, NUS' leaders must further accelerate the university's transformation by driving innovation across talent development, education that is future-focused, and research that impacts lives and society.

In a Facebook post congratulating Prof Tan on his appointment, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung praised him as a passionate educator and well-respected academic who was "one of the instrumental contributors to NUS' development as a world-class university". 

NUS chairman Hsieh Fu Hua, who chaired the search for the new president, said the incoming president was a "deeply respected academic, and a steadfast, open and decisive leader, who has a strong passion for NUS".

"Eng Chye has a wide following based on the trust he engenders, and his exceptional ability to inspire people to work together," he said.

Mr Hsieh also praised outgoing NUS president Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, noting that during his tenure as president, NUS transformed along an extraordinary trajectory of excellence.

Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, who has been president of NUS since 2008, will be seconded to Singapore's Ministry of Health at the end of 2017.

NUS also announced the appointment of Professor Ho Teck Hua, 56, as its new senior deputy president and provost from next year.

Prof Ho is among the world's scientific elite that Singapore had been trying for years to entice back to the country.

Two years ago, the behavioural scientist was persuaded to give up his chaired professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, to take up the position at NUS as deputy president of research and technology.

He currently heads two national research and development programmes in artificial intelligence and data science.

Current NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan said he has every confidence that his successor "will be a great, next president of NUS".

"Prof Tan Eng Chye is a highly motivated and inspiring leader. He has a deep passion for higher education, and is driven by the desire to excel and create distinctive impact, for NUS and the broader community, at the highest international levels," he said.