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Continuity and transformation: Leaping into the global league

NUS is well-poised to make the leap to become a leading global university. To do this, said President-designate Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, the University would need to break new ground while continuing to enhance its best parts.

Delivering his first State of the University Address (10 Oct) at the University Cultural Centre Theatre, Prof Tan began by paying tribute to the achievements of outgoing NUS President Prof Shih Choon Fong and those of University Professor Lim Pin, who was Vice Chancellor of NUS from June 1981 to May 2000. Prof Lim, he said, built strong foundations and many peaks during his tenure while Prof Shih made NUS a widely-respected global university with his singular focus on global standards of excellence, his vision of globalised education, research and university partnerships - and through his many innovative initiatives.

STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY ADDRESS: President-designate Prof Tan Chorh Chuan delivering his first SOU address to a packed theatre at the University Cultural Centre.

Using the analogy of Chinese-landscape painting to illustrate NUS' transformation process, Prof Tan, an amateur Chinese-landscape painter, said boldness and resolve are needed to complete the "unfinished painting" of NUS and to make the leap to the league of leading universities in the world.

TRIBUTES: University Professor Lim Pin (right) abd Prof Shih Choon Fong were former Presidents who helped made NUS a widely-respected global university.
Prof Tan said that for NUS to make the quantum leap into the distinguished league of the world's great universities, there is a need for the University to create its own distinctiveness by distinguishing itself as a leading global university centred in Asia. The key to achieving this vision? People.

"We must be single-minded about developing, retaining and recruiting top-quality people. Create a culture of excellence that brings out the best in our people. Encourage the whole university community to be self-surpassing," he said.

Magnificent seven

INSPIRING SEVEN: From left: Profs S S Ratnam, Ariff Bongso, Ten Chin Lew, student Veerappan Swaminathan, alumni Ms Stella Tan, Mr Yeo Keng Joo, and Prof Saw Swee Hock.

THE 45-minute State of the University Address by President-designate Prof Tan Chorh Chuan was brush-stroked with stories of inspiring mentors, faculty, students and alumni such as the late Prof S S Ratnam, Prof Ariff Bongso, Prof Ten Chin Liew, student Veerappan Swaminathan, alumni Ms Stella Tan, Mr Yeo Keng Joo and Prof Saw Swee Hock.

The late Prof Ratnam was the first in Asia to successfully use frozen embryos in assisted reproduction treatment. Prof Bongso won international accolades for his seminal research on human embryonic stem cells. Prof Ten, a Philosophy Professor and previous Head of Department, is well-known as a mentor who gives generously of his time and ideas. These three men shared the same passion to develop, retain and recruit top quality people, said Prof Tan.

Veerappan is a 3rd-year Mechanical Engineering student who won the Mondialogo Engineering Award 2007. His experience exemplifies the transformative educational experience which NUS is providing its students.

The three other stories cited are of inspiring and remarkable alumni. Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan graduated with three degrees from NUS and is also now an adjunct lecturer at NUS while Mr Yeo Keng Joo has advised and supported the students organising the Startup@Singapore Business Plan competition for the past 10 years. Prof Saw Swee Hock, who is a member of the NUS Board of Trustees, established the Saw Centre for Financial Studies, the Saw Swee Hock Centennial Professorship, as well as numerous scholarships and bursaries.

NUS moves up in world university rankings

NUS is ranked among the top universities once again. Based on the latest results of The Times Higher Education - Quacquarelli Symonds (THE-QS) World University Rankings, NUS was placed 30th among the world's top 200 universities - and 4th in Asia. The University has consistently held its place among the top -rising three places in the current ranking.

NUS' highly international faculty and students had moved it forward in the rankings, said Mr Nunzio Quacquarelli, managing director of QS, the Londonbased careers and education group which compiles the rankings. The University was also viewed favourably by employers in Asia, as well as its academic peers.

NUS President-designate, Prof Tan Chorh Chuan said: "We are pleased to be consistently ranked amongst the best universities in Asia and the world since The Times Higher Education's world university rankings first began in 2004. The results reaffirm the recognition of the world-class quality of NUS' education and research. Our outstanding faculty, students and staff, the University's global outlook and culture of excellence, and the support given by the Government have all contributed to NUS' success."

He added that NUS will continue to build on its global programmes and leverage on its insights and expertise in Asia. "This will enable NUS to develop innovative programmes that will nurture future leaders able to excel in diverse environments, and to thrive in the everchanging global landscape," he said.

NUS MBA programmes in top world rankings

THE NUS Business School is ranked among the top 100 leading business schools for its Master of Business Administration (MBA) programmes by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Ranked 89th, the NUS Business School has improved from last year's ranking. The School was one of only two business schools in Asia to have improved on their rankings.

NUS Business School's positioning as a premier school was further asserted by the Financial Times (FT) EMBA 2008 Rankings. The NUS Business School earned the 20th spot for its Asia-Pacific Executive Master of Business Administration (APEX) programme. It is the first business school in Singapore, and one of the very few in Asia, to have made it to the prestigious list. It is the third time that the APEX programme has been ranked in the top 20 by the Financial Times.