Yale-NUS seeks first president

Yale-NUS College is looking for a president.
Yale-NUS College is looking for a president. Photo by Tapley Stephenson.

Yale and National University of Singapore administrators say they expect to appoint Yale-NUS’ inaugural president by this summer.

Officials at both schools have formed a search committee for the president of their jointly run liberal arts college, and will nominate a candidate to the Yale-NUS Governing Board in the coming months for final approval. He or she will be tasked with building the college’s faculty, curriculum and administration in a nation unfamiliar with liberal arts education, administrators said. University Secretary Linda Lorimer said the search is “global” in scope and the president of Yale-NUS could come from an Eastern or Western institution, although all candidates under “serious consideration” have faculty backgrounds.

“There is widespread interest: we have talked with those born in East Asia and in the UK as well as the United States and those who are liberal arts colleges and also leading universities that emphasize undergraduate education,” Lorimer said in an email Monday. “He or she needs to be an articulate spokesperson for the benefits of a liberal arts education and creative enough to see how it can and should be adapted for an Asian setting.”

The presidential search committee is composed of University President Richard Levin, NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan, University Provost Peter Salovey and NUS Provost Tan Eng Chye.

The Yale-NUS president will have many similar responsibilities to those of Yale’s president, but will oversee a smaller institution, said Lorimer, who is assisting the committee along with Yale-NUS Governing Board chair Kay Kuok Oon Kwong.

“It will differ [from Yale] since it is a small college and doesn’t have the array of professional schools or collections [and] museums of Yale or NUS,” Lorimer said. “In many ways, it will be like being the President of one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the US, like Williams and Amherst but with active engagement with the leadership of NUS and Yale.”

Charles Bailyn, the inaugural dean of faculty at Yale-NUS, said the Yale-NUS president will likely interact more closely with faculty and undergraduates than the president of a larger research institution would. Levin said the position’s other responsibilities will include fundraising and shaping the college’s administrative structure.

Despite the similarities between Yale-NUS and a typical U.S. liberal arts college, NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan told the News in a Tuesday email that the Yale-NUS president’s job may differ slightly from those of his American counterparts.

“We are endeavouring to develop a new model of liberal arts education, so the President would need to work creatively with faculty and students in order to achieve this,” Tan said.

Tan added that the Yale-NUS president will not report directly to him or Levin, but both expect to advise and work closely with the new president.

Once the search committee selects a candidate, it will present that person to the Yale-NUS Governing Board, which is divided evenly between administrators from Yale and NUS. The search process for the Yale-NUS president is similar to the method used at Yale, in which a search committee recommends a candidate for final approval by the Yale Corporation.

The Yale-NUS president will report to the governing board once he or she takes office, just as Yale’s president reports to the Yale Corporation.

As administrators search for the college’s first president, Bailyn said they are also continuing to move ahead with faculty recruitment. Yale-NUS is expected to have 100 faculty members when it reaches full capacity in fall 2016, with 36 hired by the college’s fall 2013 opening.

“Obviously we are going forward now with faculty appointments, so there will be some faculty already in place when the president arrives,” Bailyn said in an email Tuesday. “The president will be a major part of faculty recruitment once he or she is in place.”

The Yale-NUS president will reside on the top floor of the building that houses the college’s library and student learning center, Bailyn said.

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