Yale-NUS fundraising underway

Though the University is not contributing to Yale-NUS fundraising efforts, the Singaporean college has raised roughly $16 million in donations, National University of Singapore President Tan Chorh Chuan said Friday.

Tan and the NUS Office of Estate and Development are currently handling fundraising for the jointly run liberal college — efforts Yale decided to forgo as a logical extension of the Yale-NUS founding agreement, which states that Yale will not pay for any of the college’s costs, University President Richard Levin said. Though no formal campaign is in place and philanthropy toward universities is a less common tradition in Singapore than in the United States, Tan said many NUS alumni and benefactors have shown interest in contributing to the new college.

“While the culture of giving to universities here is not as well established as in the United States, it is gaining traction in recent years,” Tan said in a Friday email. “There is growing excitement and buzz around Yale-NUS, and we are encouraging donors to help contribute to the establishment and growth of this important [program].”

Tan said the fundraising strategy has mainly targeted Singaporean donors so far, and prioritizes unrestricted gifts and donations earmarked for financial aid and professorships. American donors can donate to the Singaporean college through Yale’s Office of Development, but University Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said Monday that her office is not seeking donations and no donors have approached her about giving to Yale-NUS.

At this point, the roughly $16 million donated has only included one major gift, Levin said. Several Singaporean companies donated $9.3 million in honor of Singaporean businessman J.Y. Pillay in January, Levin said, which will fund two professorships, a fellowship and financial aid at the new college.

Though Tan is currently overseeing fundraising, those efforts will pass to Yale-NUS administrators this summer once the school’s president and vice president for development are appointed. Yale-NUS’s vice president for development will have a role analogous to that of Reichenbach, Levin said, who coordinates fundraising across Yale. Levin added that the Singaporean college’s office of development is expected to be much smaller than Yale’s office.

Levin said he has helped Tan by speaking with several Yale-NUS donors, but added that the new college is not a fundraising priority for Yale.

“We’re not making a special effort to raise money here in the United States,” Levin said. “Yale has lots of priorities on our own campus that we’re focused on for our domestic sources of funding, so [Yale-NUS] fundraising efforts are going to be focused in Asia.”

But Ronald Ehrenberg, director of Cornell’s Higher Education Research Institute, said Yale could benefit from the donor base the overseas college is building. Though benefactors to Yale-NUS are not people that Yale would typically approach for donations, Ehrenberg said the donors that become connected with Yale-NUS could potentially become fundraising sources for Yale as well.

The Singaporean government offers a 250 percent tax deduction for any donations to Yale-NUS, Tan said.

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