Yale-NUS hires rector

Yale-NUS science professor Brian McAdoo will serve as the new college’s inaugural rector — a position equivalent to that of a resident college master at Yale.

McAdoo, who joined the Singaporean college’s faculty in September 2012 after teaching at Vassar College for 14 years, will assume the position this July with an initial term of two years. During its inaugural 2013-’14 academic year, Yale-NUS will have one residential college before expanding to three colleges by 2015. McAdoo’s duties as rector will include overseeing residential college life and creating activities for students in collaboration with Yale-NUS Dean of Students Kyle Farley.

Yale-NUS administrators cited McAdoo’s experience working at a liberal arts college and his approachable personality as the key assets that qualified him for the position. McAdoo said he will draw on Singapore’s geographic location to organize student activities unique to the new liberal arts college.

“I see this as an opportunity to consider the whole student — not just the one who engages intellectual material in the classroom, but the one that has passions that exist in the outside world, including travel, sports, food, music, spirituality, you name it,” McAdoo said.

Yale-NUS administrators offered McAdoo the position of rector after he participated in last month’s Experience Yale-NUS Weekend — an opportunity for admitted students to hear sample lectures from professors and meet members of the college’s community. Students “loved” McAdoo’s lecture, Farley said, adding that he is “a very cool guy and students will find it easy to engage with him.” McAdoo said he and his family plan to eat most meals with students in the dining hall and that he plans to invite students for home-cooked meals in his home on a regular basis.

Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis said administrators considered a number of candidates both from within and outside the Yale-NUS community, but ultimately decided that a person who has been involved in planning the school’s co-curricular activities would be most appropriate for the rectorship. McAdoo helped craft the Learning Across Boundaries initiative, a week-long program during which all Yale-NUS students will undertake a research project outside of the traditional classroom setting as part of the school’s attempt to bolster experiential learning.

McAdoo said he wants to take advantage of the geography and history of the region in developing activities for future students. In addition to organizing events such as Rector’s Teas and campus-wide lectures — to which the college will invite prominent individuals from Singapore and abroad to address students — McAdoo said he plans to take weekend trips with students.

“Perhaps once a semester, we can take a weekend trip to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand or another nearby location,” McAdoo said. “The students will need breaks from the rigorous academics, and getting off-campus — possibly off-island — is a stimulating way to just regroup.”

Farley and Bailyn cited McAdoo’s fieldwork in the region as an additional asset to his involvement with student life at the Singaporean college. McAdoo, a tsunami scientist,  joined United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization post-tsunami survey teams in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia in 2004 and has been doing research in Southeast Asia ever since.

“His academic interests are directly tied to the region and he will be keen to bring students into the field,” Farley said. “His intellectual passions are inherently interdisciplinary and work very well within the curriculum.”

Each rector will have a co-rector equivalent to the position of a residential college dean. McAdoo’s co-rector has not been appointed yet.

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