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18 January 2012

NUS Honours Professor J Y Pillay

Gifts from donors, totalling $12.9 million, to fund new initiatives at Yale-NUS College and NUS Global Asia Institute; Renowned evolutionary biologist Professor Sir Peter Crane named as first visiting J Y Pillay Distinguished Professor at Yale-NUS

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The National University of Singapore (NUS) today honoured renowned policy maker and corporate leader, Professor 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 are made possible through generous gifts, amounting to S$12.9 million, from a group of donors comprising corporations and private individuals, and led by Singapore Airlines and Singapore Exchange. A total of S$11.9 million will go towards supporting new initiatives at Yale-NUS and S$1 million will support the new research centre at NUS-GAI. With the government's matching grant, these initiatives will be supported with a total funding of up to S$49.6 million.

Said NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, "NUS is very grateful for the generous donations that have enabled the University to honour Professor J Y Pillay, a remarkable Singapore pioneer who will serve as a role model for our students now and those to come. 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, who has recently been appointed as Rector of the third and latest residential college at NUS University Town (UTown), is perhaps best known for his role in transforming national carrier Singapore Airlines from a company with a modest fleet of 12 aircraft into a world-class enterprise.

Prof Pillay's distinguished career includes appointments as Permanent Secretary of various key ministries, including finance, defence and national development. His leadership role also extended to Singapore Exchange, where he became its founding chairman in 1999.

Prof Pillay, who is also an Adjunct Professor with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS, said, "I am humbled by this honour and deeply appreciative of the generous gifts from the many donors. I am confident that the NUS community will benefit from the initiatives at the Yale-NUS College and the NUS Global Asia Institute that are made possible by this gesture."

The donors are: 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. Some donors chose to remain anonymous.

J Y Pillay Global-Asia Programme at Yale-NUS College

At Yale-NUS, a landmark collaboration between Yale University and NUS, the gift will support the establishment 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.

Professor Sir Peter Crane, a renowned evolutionary biologist and Dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, has been named as the first visiting J Y Pillay Distinguished Professor.

Said Professor Lily Kong, Acting Executive Vice-President (Academic Affairs) at the Yale-NUS College, "It is very fitting to honour Professor Pillay through a gift to the Yale-NUS College as he represents, above all, an outstanding leader with tremendous breadth of understanding across a wide range of disciplines and sectors. This gift to the Yale-NUS will help students with high leadership potential cultivate similar abilities, while inspiring them through his example, qualities and values.

"We are also delighted to have Professor Sir Peter Crane as the first visiting J Y Pillay Distinguished Professor at Yale-NUS. Sir Peter, with his impressive record of research and experience in conservation, will make significant contributions not only to the Yale-NUS, but to Singapore and Asia as well."

At a lecture held at NUS today, Sir Peter delivered a speech titled "The Future of Plants: Conservation and Use in the Twenty First Century", in which he discussed the current status of plant diversity and explored the challenges of conserving and managing plants in sustainable ways for human benefit.

Comparative Asia Research Centre at NUS-GAI

At NUS-GAI, which aims to take the lead in research and scholarship directed at topics pivotal to Asia's future, the gift will support the setting up of the J Y Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre.

The Centre, housed within NUS-GAI, will provide a stimulating and cross-disciplinary environment for researchers to pursue research on issues that are pertinent to China, India and Indonesia. A J Y Pillay Fellowship at NUS-GAI will also be established to drive the Centre's work.

Professor Gavin Jones, an internationally recognised demographer whose interests also cover development economics, sociology and human geography, has been appointed as Director of the J Y Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre. Prof Jones has held appointments at the Asia Research Institute at NUS and the Department of Sociology at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Said Prof Jones, "This gift will help propel research at the NUS-GAI to new levels. It will allow us to pursue important and strategic areas of research such as education and labour markets, poverty and inequality in China, India and Indonesia at the new Centre."

For more details on the J Y Pillay Global-Asia Programme at Yale-NUS and the J Y Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre at NUS-GAI, please see Annex 1. For brief biographies of Prof J Y Pillay, Sir Peter Crane and Professor Gavin Jones, please see Annex 2.