Yale-NUS College Names Its First President

Yale-NUS College Names Its First President


Last year, SayCampusLife noted that Yale University and the National University of Singapore were teaming up to launch a new college in this southeastern Asia country. That school, dubbed Yale-NUS College, will open in August 2013 on a 10.5-acre site in Singapore, welcoming 150 students as part of its initial cohort. Late last month the school announced its inaugural leadership, tapping current Yale and NUS administrators to run the school.

Yale Professor

Named as the inaugural president of the college is Yale University’s Professor Pericles Lewis who along with Professor Lai Choy Heng of the National University of Singapore will head up the school. Lai will serve as Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs. Both professors will begin work on July 1, 2012.

Professor Lewis joined Yale’s faculty in 1998. Lewis is a distinguished scholar of British and European literature and a leader in the field of modernism. Lewis currently has appointments in Yale’s English and Comparative Literature departments.

Madam Kay Kuok, chair of the Yale-NUS governing board, said, “Professor Lewis has demonstrated remarkable leadership in helping to launch the new college this past year. We were all very impressed by his enormous passion for the new college and his exceptional ability to identify the most important issues and to motivate and work with others to address them.”

NUS Professor

Professor Lai Choy Heng is currently a theoretical physicist and has been Vice Provost for Academic Personnel at NUS for the past nine years. Lai has been an NUS faculty member since 1980 and once served as the dean of the Faculty of Science. For the past five years he has served as Deputy Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies, a Research Center of Excellence. Educated in the United States, Professor Lai earned undergraduate and doctorate degrees at the University of Chicago.

“Yale-NUS is very fortunate to attract Professor Lai to this important academic position,” said NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan. “Apart from his distinguished record of research and administrative leadership accomplishments, Professor Lai is passionate about liberal arts education and deeply believes in the potential for Yale-NUS College to pioneer a new model for Asia for the future. With his strong personal interest and expertise in Western classical music and Chinese Classics, he brings highly complementary qualities to the Yale-NUS leadership team.”

Conception and Opposition

The school was conceived in September 2010 and is extensively subsidized by the government of Singapore. That arrangement allows foreign students to receive aid in exchange for working three years in Singapore or spending that time working for a Singaporean company overseas following graduation. Students can also take out loans to repay the government if they choose another arrangement.

Not all Yale faculty is onboard with the new school. In April 2012, Yale professors passed a resolution expressing their concern for Singapore’s “lack of respect for civil and political rights,” as reported by Yahoo News. The professors have taken issue with Singapore’s government that has often been seen as a restrictor of human rights, civil liberties and academic freedom, leading to passage of its resolution by a vote of 100 to 69.


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