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NUS College appoints Simon Chesterman as first dean, to take in inaugural batch of 400 students

SINGAPORE — The newly renamed National University of Singapore (NUS) College, formed from the merger of Yale-NUS College and NUS’ University Scholars Programme, will be headed by Professor Simon Chesterman as its dean-designate, the university said on Tuesday (Jan 4).

NUS College appoints Simon Chesterman as first dean, to take in inaugural batch of 400 students

Professor Simon Chesterman (pictured) will be the dean-designate of NUS College and vice-provost of educational innovation at the National University of Singapore.

SINGAPORE — The newly renamed National University of Singapore (NUS) College, formed from the merger of Yale-NUS College and NUS’ University Scholars Programme, will be headed by Professor Simon Chesterman as its dean-designate, the university said on Tuesday (Jan 4).

Prof Chesterman will continue to serve as the dean of NUS Law — an appointment he has held since 2012 — as the university “convenes a global search for his successor” at the law faculty, the university said in a statement.

He will become the first dean of NUS College from July 1 this year, which is when the college will take in its first batch of 400 students for the academic year of 2022 to 2023.

NUS president, Professor Tan Eng Chye, who last August announced plans to cease NUS’ collaboration with Yale University in the United States, said he is confident that the new college will have a good start under Prof Chesterman’s leadership.

“A strong advocate for interdisciplinary education, Simon is an inspirational and collaborative leader who has contributed much to the higher education landscape in Singapore and internationally. He is an accomplished scholar and passionate educator,” Prof Tan said.

Prof Chesterman, who will also be appointed vice-provost of educational innovation at NUS, said that he is excited at the chance to build NUS College as its inaugural dean: “It will be a new educational journey that transcends disciplinary and geographical boundaries — education without limits.”

The news of the closure of Yale-NUS College had generated controversy last year, with students, parents, faculty members and alumni of the college petitioning against the decision made by the NUS president.

In its statement, NUS said that the new merged college will become its first honours college and will bring together the best of the University Scholars Programme and Yale-NUS College.

Previously given a temporary moniker “New College”, the name for the college was selected after consultations with around 20 focus group sessions and in-depth interviews led by a global independent research agency in October last year, NUS said.

The college will be open to students applying for almost all undergraduate degree programmes at NUS, including pathways to 50 majors such as those from humanities and sciences, engineering, environmental studies, business, computer science and law.

Residential living and learning on campus will be “integral” as well, and students will also have full access to distinctive local and global programmes, NUS said.

In addition, financial aid and scholarship programmes such as bursaries, loans, scholarships and work-study opportunities will be made available to students with financial concerns.

“The university remains committed to its ‘needs-blind’ admission policy — no deserving student will be denied the opportunity to study at NUS College because of financial difficulties,” it added.

Reiterating why it decided to merge the two programmes, NUS said it planned to have an honours college that offers a broad-based interdisciplinary education that is integrated with the rest of the university. 

Such a college “offers an academically challenging overlay to the undergraduate experience, where students from a variety of majors can come together for a holistic, rigorous curriculum which can complement their chosen majors”.

Features include small class sizes, interactive and seminar-style teaching, on-campus residential living and learning in a closely-knit community, smaller faculty-to-student ratios, vibrant student life and pastoral care, as well as curated opportunities for global exposure, peer networking and character development.

Its progenitor, Yale-NUS College, is widely considered as Singapore’s first liberal arts college. NUS did not describe the new college as a "liberal arts" one in its statement, though Prof Chesterman said in a Facebook post that NUS College will offer “a residential experience in the liberal arts tradition, but with all the resources of one of the world’s leading universities”.

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