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State of the University Address 2010:
Reading the water well

11 October 2010



STATE OF UNIVERSITY ADDRESS 2010: NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan delivering his speech at the University Cultural Centre


DISTINGUISHED GUESTS: (From left) Member of Parliament East Coast Group Representative Constituency and Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore Ms Jessica Tan Soon Neo; Director of Temasek Holdings Madam Ho Ching; NUS Board of Trustees member Mr Edward D'Silva; and NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye

If NUS is to continue its steep upward trajectory, how can we make our University be more relevant to our stakeholders, to Singapore and society? What new and distinctive value should we create?

These were some of the questions posed by NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan at his annual State of the University Address (SoUA) on 11 October 2010 at the University Cultural Centre. Sharing his thoughts on how the University can address future challenges and what can be done to keep NUS education at the leading edge, Prof Tan spoke on the compelling need for new educational models with a primary focus to nurture graduates who can think deeply about issues. They should also have a broad intellectual base which allows them to see connections and solutions across different disciplines in more original ways. He also expressed how the University can create even greater value through research.

Using the analogy of the boatmen of Kamarata in Venezuela, Prof Tan spoke of how NUS needs to constantly look forward, "to read the water well", to discern the main currents from the eddies, and to chart the best course for a swift and safe journey ahead. Thus, in response to the educational challenges and to stay well ahead of the curve, Prof Tan said that the proposed establishment of a liberal arts college in partnership with Yale University would be of great strategic value. "For NUS, setting up a new Liberal Arts College would enable us to take a leadership position in a key form of education for the future, and to attract even more of the brightest students. By working together, we hope to introduce fundamental innovations in education that could serve as a model for others in Asia, and that may help reshape approaches to liberal arts education in existing institutions including Yale itself," noted Prof Tan.

He added that the proposed Yale-NUS College would serve NUS students and Singapore well as it offers a valuable option of the highest quality to the best students and will nurture leaders well-equipped to address the complex challenges of the globalised world.

As part of the University's strategy to seize opportunities in a rapidly rising Asia, there have been advanced discussions to set up an NUS Research Institute in Suzhou Industrial Park. This proposed Institute will pursue research in key areas linked to the NUS Integrative Research Clusters, and which are of interest to the Industrial Park. Some potential areas include finance, water and environmental sustainability. It will also house an incubator which would support NUS start-ups and help them scale up their businesses in the Chinese market, in collaboration with Chinese partners. While this initiative will help strengthen research in NUS, it will also deepen the University's expertise and connections in China.

Prof Tan also highlighted the need to continue with the pursuit of high quality basic research - in science, technology, humanities and social sciences. As an institution, he said that NUS should be alert to potentially useful applications of such research, and make every effort to facilitate this translation. Besides basic research, integrative research is also important to address the complex and multi-faceted challenges facing Asia and the world today. Well-executed, this will have an even greater and wider societal impact.

At the SoUA, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye also presented an overview of the progress made at University Town (UTown), an educational concept unlike any other in Singapore's current higher education landscape.

Emphasising that UTown was built for "all NUS", and not just for its residents, he said classes will be scheduled to allow non-resident students to enjoy the Educational Resource Centre and Edusports Complex as well as its F&B and retails outlets.

In terms of programmes, the Residential Colleges curriculum will complement the regular curriculum in the students' Faculties and Schools, and will be rolled out over a two-year residency period. UTown is expected to attract at least 10,000 students from Kent Ridge to read their modules each week. To-date, UTown's first two Colleges have started pilot programmes at the Prince George's Park Residences.

More information available on the SOUA webpage.



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