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NUS honours Prof J Y Pillay

17 January 2012

(From left) Prof Tan, Prof Pillay, Sir Peter and Prof Jones having a light moment
NUS today honoured eminent policy maker and corporate leader, Prof J Y Pillay, through the establishment of two distinguished professorships, a fellowship and bursary at the Yale-NUS College (Yale-NUS), as well as a research centre at the NUS Global Asia Institute (NUS-GAI).

The new initiatives have been set up through the S$12.9 million gifts from corporate and private donors led by Singapore Airlines and Singapore Exchange. A total of S$11.9 million will support new initiatives at Yale-NUS, while S$1 million will go to the new research centre at NUS-GAI. The government's matching grant will bring the total funding for these initiatives to S$49.6 million.

Said NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan: "Our goal is for the high-impact programmes established through these gifts to serve the needs of Singapore, as well as the Asian and global communities."

Prof Pillay, recently appointed Rector of the third residential college at NUS University Town, is credited for his role in transforming national carrier Singapore Airlines from a company with humble beginnings into a world-class enterprise and brand.

His illustrious career includes appointments as Permanent Secretary of various key ministries and the founding chairman of Singapore Exchange.

Prof Pillay, who is also an Adjunct Professor with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS, expressed deep appreciation of the generous gifts, which he believes will benefit the NUS community.

The donors include: Singapore Airlines; Singapore Exchange; Binjai Tree; Mr Low Check Kian; Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara; Mr Tan Kwang Kherng, John; ACR Capital Holdings; Allen & Gledhill; Deutsche Bank; Mr Nicholas Kong; and Schroder Investment Management (Singapore) Ltd.

At Yale-NUS, a landmark collaboration between Yale University and NUS, the gift will support the setting up of the J Y Pillay Global-Asia Programme, which comprises two J Y Pillay Distinguished Professorships, a J Y Pillay Fellowship and a J Y Pillay Bursary.

Prof Sir Peter Crane, a renowned evolutionary biologist and Dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, has been named the first visiting J Y Pillay Distinguished Professor. He sees the appointment as being ideal for him to contribute to the further development of Yale-NUS, as well as help students prepare for the challenges and opportunities of environmental management ahead.

Sir Peter delivered a lecture titled "The Future of Plants: Conservation and Use in the Twenty First Century", giving a current overview of plant diversity as well as the challenges of conserving and managing plants in sustainable ways for human benefit.

At NUS-GAI, whose research and scholarship focus on topics critical to Asia's future, the donors' gift will support the establishment of the J Y Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre and a J Y Pillay Fellowship. The Centre will conduct cross-disciplinary research on issues relevant to China, India and Indonesia.

Prof Gavin Jones, an internationally known demographer with a wealth of Asian expertise, has been appointed Director of the J Y Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre. He said that the gift will help NUS-GAI to pursue important and strategic areas of research such as education and labour markets, poverty and inequality.