NUS Law's dean-designate relinquishes position 2 weeks after appointment, citing medical reasons

Professor Simon Chesterman (left) and Professor Hans Tjio. PHOTOS: ST FILE, TSMP LAW CORPORATION

SINGAPORE - The dean-designate of the Law Faculty at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has relinquished his upcoming appointment for medical reasons, just over two weeks after his appointment was announced on March 12.

Professor Simon Chesterman, who was appointed Dean of NUS Law on Jan 1, 2012, will now serve for a fourth term, until June 30, 2023.

In a statement on Wednesday (March 31), NUS said Professor Hans Tjio, who was supposed to take over in July, had relinquished his position for personal reasons.

The University initially did not provide more information for the decision but later said it was medical reasons. Prof Tjio asked for privacy on the matter.

In the NUS statement, he expressed his "deep regret" for stepping away from the Law Dean appointment.

"I am grateful for the confidence and support the university, the Law Dean Search Committee and colleagues have shown me during the search and appointment process," he said.

The 55-year-old father of two added that he was grateful to NUS for accepting his decision and that he was looking forward to working with NUS Law and Prof Chesterman and making his contribution in a different way.

Prof Tjio, who is CJ Koh Professor of Law and Director of the Law school's EW Barker Centre for Law and Business, informed NUS of his decision to relinquish the appointment on March 26.

The university said it subsequently accepted his decision. It added that it will convene a global search for Prof Chesterman's successor within the first year of his new term.

NUS President Tan Eng Chye said: "Hans is a highly respected colleague and an outstanding legal scholar with strong ties with the industry and regulators - someone whom we believed could take NUS Law to the next level.

"It is therefore with deep regret that we accept his decision to relinquish the Law dean appointment."

"We fully respect Hans' reasons for doing so," he added.

Prof Chesterman said leadership renewal is important in any organisation and that he respects Prof Tjio's decision.

"My only condition for staying on was that this fourth term should not be as a mere placeholder," added the 48-year-old.

"I am therefore taking this opportunity to refresh my team and together we will focus on two key challenges confronting our community."

Prof Chesterman said his major goals are to bring NUS Law through the Covid-19 pandemic and to revise its curriculum to ensure that students are ready for the digital future, and to broaden and deepen opportunities for students from more diverse backgrounds.

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