The seeds of the EW Barker Centre for Law and Business' new name were sown six years ago, National University of Singapore law dean Simon Chesterman said yesterday.
Formerly known as the Centre for Law and Business, the NUS legal think-tank was renamed for Singapore's first and longest-serving law minister, Mr E.W. Barker.
Professor Chesterman said that six years ago, he was involved in early discussions about a biography of Mr Barker.
The law faculty helped with some research for the book, which was written by former Straits Times journalist Susan Sim and launched last year.
But Prof Chesterman wanted to do more "to ensure that not only would Mr Barker's story be told and his name remembered, but that his legacy would carry on into the future".
The dean approached the late minister's wife, Mrs Gloria Barker, for permission to use his name.
While she was pleased that NUS wanted to honour her husband, she was adamant that it should not be a token move.
"The centre... had to be something that would really make a difference to Singapore and the region," recounted Prof Chesterman.
"As that was our aim also, we agreed and the campaign began."
Eleven donors and a matching grant from the Government raised a total of $21 million to set up an endowment fund to support the centre.
The centre will focus on areas where law and business intersect, such as company law, competition law, intellectual property protection and taxation.
In recent years, several other academic institutions have been named after Singapore's pioneer leaders and former presidents.
These institutions include:
• The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, a postgraduate school under NUS that focuses on public policy and was named for Singapore's first prime minister.
• The Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, a think-tank at the Singapore University of Technology and Design which looks at urban planning.
• The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, a graduate school in Nanyang Technological University named for Singapore's first foreign minister.
• The Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College, a training institute of the Singapore Armed Forces named for the former deputy prime minister and defence minister.
• The Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, formerly known as the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and renamed for Singapore's first president.
• The Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability, the continuing education centre named after Singapore's third president.
• The Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute, an NTUC labour education and training centre named after Singapore's fifth president.