President-elect Peter Salovey will fly to Singapore next month for meetings with Yale-NUS administrators as he continues to prepare for the University presidency. But when the former provost arrives at the Singaporean campus, the buildings under construction will be a familiar sight.
Salovey was one of the initial professors and administrators to first visit the campus site in 2009, when Yale and the National University of Singapore were still negotiating the terms of the new college. Yale-NUS administrators said Salovey has been active in planning the project since its inception, and Pericles Lewis, president of the new college, said he regularly informs Salovey of its progress. Because Yale’s next president has been involved throughout its development, administrators interviewed said they do not expect any major changes to the direction of the Singaporean venture after Salovey takes office on June 30.
Yale-NUS Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn said he does not anticipate changes in Yale’s institutional commitment or approach to Yale-NUS under Salovey.
“It is possible that President Salovey will take a less hands-on approach given [University President Richard] Levin’s continuing involvement, but I do not foresee any changes in institutional commitment or approach,” Bailyn added.
After he leaves his position at the helm of Yale’s administration, Levin will remain on Yale-NUS’s governing board — an administrative body equivalent to the Yale Corporation.
Though Salovey said he has not yet taken on any new roles in Yale-NUS, he will join the board in June when he assumes the presidency. Lewis said he consults the governing board on topics including the budget, faculty hiring and general administrative issues. The board holds eight meetings annually, two of which take place in Singapore.
“The main difference is that as of June 30, [Salovey] will be the president of Yale,” Levin said. “Decisions about Yale’s involvement with the project and the degree of Yale’s involvement with the project will be in his hands instead of mine.”
Salovey said he does not currently have plans to change Yale’s involvement with the Singaporean college, noting that he was a proponent of a partnership with the National University of Singapore since the project’s early days. As he approaches the start of his term as Yale’s top administrator, Salovey is ramping up communications with leaders from both Yale and Yale-NUS, including Lewis and NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan.
Meetings between Lewis and Salovey are nothing new: The two met regularly in New Haven after Lewis was appointed president of Yale-NUS in May 2012. Salovey was on the search committee that appointed Lewis to the Yale-NUS presidency and said he approves of the policies Lewis has created to promote academic freedom at Yale-NUS.
Though some members of the Yale community have criticized Yale for establishing a college in a country that restricts civil liberties, Yale-NUS administrators have repeatedly told the News that academic freedom will be guaranteed on the Singaporean college’s campus. In fall 2012, the new college announced that Yale-NUS students will be unable to form branches of existing Singaporean political parties on campus or groups that “promote racial or religious strife.”
“I very much support President Lewis’ approach in which free expression on campus — the ability to teach, discuss and write about essentially anything at Yale-NUS — is a bedrock principle,” Salovey said.