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Yale-NUS College breaks new ground

06 July 2012

Prime Minister Lee giving a speech at the Yale-NUS College groundbreaking ceremony

(From left) Forum Architects Director Mr Tan Kok Hiang, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects founding partner Mr Fred Clarke, Yale-NUS Design and Construction Project Director Ms Diane Abbott, Mdm Kuok, Prof Tan, NUS Deputy President (Administration) Mr Joseph Mullinix, PM Lee, Prof Lewis and Mr Wong looking at a model of the new campus

Photo: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Yale-NUS College (Yale-NUS), Singapore's first residential liberal arts college, held its groundbreaking ceremony on 6 July at NUS University Town (UTown). The landmark occasion was graced by Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore.

More than 200 guests witnessed the ceremony, among them the US Ambassador to Singapore HE David Adelman, NUS Chairman Mr Wong Ngit Liong, Yale-NUS Chair Mdm Kay Kuok, NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, Yale University President Prof Richard Levin, faculty, students and donors.

Prime Minister Lee said that Yale-NUS will give high-calibre Singaporean students another option to pursue a degree at home instead of going overseas. It will also attract top students from the region who will form a valuable network of friends of Singapore in their home countries and around the world.

"And the rest of our university system will also benefit from Yale-NUS because of the innovative pedagogies that we learn, approaches that we'll spread, and many more students will benefit," he said.

At the event, Yale-NUS President Prof Pericles Lewis highlighted the significance of the College as an important undertaking that will catalyse the growth of liberal arts and science education in Asia.

"As the first liberal arts college in Singapore offering a proactive education through residential living and learning right here in the heart of Asia, we are breaking ground on multiple dimensions," the inaugural President of the College said. The ceremony also symbolically lays the foundation for an inspiring and innovative community of learning, he added.

To align with the School's educational mission, the Yale-NUS campus architecture will highlight the collaborative nature of the venture through the joint expertise of two world-class architects - Singapore's Forum Architects and US-based Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.

Distinctive features such as the syncopated skyline and special materials derived from Yale architecture are married with Asian courtyard landscapes to meld cultures, traditions and styles of Singapore, America and Southeast Asia. The East-meets-West setting will reflect the openness, energy and optimism of the College's curriculum.

This residential model builds "nested communities" in the Yale tradition of supporting lifelong learning in liberal arts and science by integrating academic, intellectual, social, athletic and artistic life. Three residential colleges, each conceived as a "social home", will house students and faculty.

The pioneer batch of Yale-NUS students will begin classes from August 2013 at UTown before the new campus officially opens in 2015. The location of the College on the same site is expected to provide opportunities for Yale-NUS undergraduates to interact with the NUS community in co-curricular, sports, the arts and other social settings.

Prof Lewis cited lines written by Mahatma Gandhi in response to the relevance of the study of English literature for Indians: "I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."

Said Prof Lewis: "May the cultures of Asia, the West and the entire world blow freely through the corridors and walkways of Yale-NUS College and into the minds of many generations of students. And may we send those students into the world standing proudly on their own feet."