November 21st, 2011 | University

Yale-NUS board appointed

Yale and the National University of Singapore announced the members of the founding governing board for their jointly-run liberal arts college in a Monday afternoon press release.

University President Richard Levin and NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan, pictured here at the signing of the school's founding agreement in September 2010, each appointed half of the Yale-NUS College Governing Board that was announced Monday afternoon.
National University of Singapore
University President Richard Levin and NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan, pictured here at the signing of the school's founding agreement in September 2010, each appointed half of the Yale-NUS College Governing Board that was announced Monday afternoon.

As the new college’s highest governing body, the board will function similarly to the Yale Corporation, Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said. With half of the board’s 10 members nominated by University President Richard Levin and the other half nominated by NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan, the group will “provide strategic direction and oversight” for the new college, according to the release. The Singaporean Ministry of Education made the final appointments.

In the past, Yale administrators have described the board as a means to ensure the school’s educational quality. All five of Levin’s nominees to the board — including Levin, Lorimer and former Yale Corporation Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68 — hold Yale degrees, which Lorimer said was a conscious decision on Levin’s part.

“I think we decided this is a major initiative for Yale, and we wanted those who would make the most serious effort and also those who had experience at the University,” Lorimer said, adding that all 16 members of the Yale Corporation hold Yale degrees.

Members of the new governing board will serve three-year terms, starting immediately, during which the board will help appoint the college’s president and faculty and also oversee the construction of the new colleges, Lorimer said.

Levin’s nominees vary in background, but all have connections to higher education administration or experience working in Asia. The other Yale affiliates on the board include Catherine Hill GRD ’85, current president of Vassar College, and Clark Randt ’68, ambassador to China under President George W. Bush ’68.

Kay Kuok Oon Kwong, the executive chairperson of Shangri-La Hotel Limited and a current member of the NUS board of trustees, will be the board’s inaugural chairperson.

“I see the opportunity to develop a novel, world-class educational experience as a rare privilege,” Kuok said in the release. “The board and I are deeply committed to working with the leadership of Yale-NUS on an education that will draw from both Yale and NUS, a truly distinctive experience that will develop the brightest students into future leaders for Asia, and the world.”

While the cost of the college is being entirely paid by the Singaporean government, only half of the board is affiliated with either the Singaporean government or NUS. These members include NUS President Tan and Ng Cher Pong, Singapore’s Deputy Minister of Education for Policy.

Since it was announced in September 2010, Yale-NUS College has drawn criticism from those who allege that the Singaporean government may restrict academic freedom at the school. But Lorimer said she did not believe this would happen and that Ng’s participation would be a major benefit for the new college.

“It’s extremely valuable to have a member of the Ministry of Education on the board because it adds a link to the Ministry and shows the Ministry how the college is progressing,” Lorimer said.

The Yale Corporation also includes two government officials — the governor and lieutenant governor of Connecticut — but the roles are largely ceremonial and neither can vote on Corporation decisions. For Yale-NUS, Lorimer said the board will look to “active representation from the Ministry of Education.”

The two remaining members of the board are Gautam Banerjee, executive chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Chong Siak Ching, president and CEO of Singaporean company Ascendas.

CORRECTION: Nov. 22

A previous version of this article stated that Presidents Levin and Tan officially appointed the board members. In fact. each president nominated half the members, but Singapore’s Ministry of Education makes the official appointments.