Yale-NUS looks to expand faculty

Yale-NUS plans to double the size of its student body next year — but first, it will need more faculty members.

Yale-NUS, a liberal arts college in Singapore jointly founded by Yale and the National University of Singapore, opened this fall with an inaugural class of 157 students, all of whom are freshmen. Three months into the academic year, Pericles Lewis, president of Yale-NUS, said the college is looking to hire new professors for next year, but only for two majors — arts and humanities and global affairs. Lewis travelled to New Haven three weeks ago to hold a workshop for prospective applicants for the teaching positions. Select candidates will be invited to Singapore in December for a series of round-table discussions with both faculty and students.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement to start something new,” Lewis said. “[The candidates] are excited about teaching and designing the curriculum.”

Lewis said Yale-NUS is not looking for “radically different” professors from those at Yale or other liberal arts colleges — but he added that the new faculty members will have to work as a team, developing both the core curriculum that all Yale-NUS freshmen have to take as well as the curriculum for each major.

As the Yale-NUS student population grows, the hiring process for faculty will look different from what currently goes on at American liberal arts colleges because hiring will be done in bulk, said Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn. Instead of doing individual visits, the candidates will go to the Yale-NUS campus in groups of 20 to 25 candidates and be involved in discussions about both curricular and extracurricular matters.

“We’re not just looking for research ability and classroom teaching, but also people who are interested in developing the institution,” Bailyn said.

Lewis and Bailyn said that although not all the faculty candidates are from the U.S., most of them have experience working in liberal arts colleges. Bailyn said that this will be particularly important while Yale-NUS is still in the process of establishing a “campus culture” and defining itself as a liberal arts institution in Asia.

Bailyn said that the global affairs major, which will be designed by both current and new faculty, will differ somewhat from the Yale version of the major. Global affairs at Yale-NUS will focus more on geography and environmental issues, he said, adding that NUS already has a large geography department.

Lewis said global affairs will also emphasize international relations between Asia and the West, delving beyond interactions involving states and governments in order to examine people and societies.

Michael Maniates, head of the Environmental Studies Department at Yale-NUS, said the fact that this round of faculty hiring is focused on Global Affairs does not mean that this major will be more central to the mission of Yale-NUS mission than any other. He added that he does not think there is a particular reason why the college started with arts and humanities and global affairs when expanding its faculty.

Lewis said developing a strong arts and humanities major is important at this point because those faculty members will also be able to help students develop their extracurricular activities. For example, Yale-NUS is looking for a music teacher who would be able to advise budding singing groups.

The arts and humanities major will also reflect the interdisciplinary nature of studies at Yale-NUS, as well as the school’s emphasis on international exchanges, he said.

Faculty and administrators interviewed said they are not hiring in response to current student demand for particular majors. Though students have expressed interest in different areas of study, they have yet to declare their majors and may change their minds, Maniates said.

Still, it is clear that the social sciences in general will be in high demand at the college, Bailyn said.

“It would not be surprising if half the students majored in the social sciences,” he said. “We have a strong emphasis on the meeting of cultures, internationalism and globalism generally.”

The collaboration between Yale and the National University of Singapore began in 2009.

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