Graduation 2017

Speech by Professor Tan Tai Yong, President-Designate, Yale-NUS College

at the Yale-NUS College Inaugural Graduation Ceremony

29 May 2017 at University Cultural Centre


Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, NUS Chancellor and President of the Republic of Singapore;

Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher Education & Skills) and Second Minister for Defence,

NUS Pro-Chancellor Mr Po’ad Mattar;

Chairpersons and Members of the NUS Board of Trustees, Yale Corporation and Yale-NUS Governing Board;

Graduands, Parents and Friends


Today, we mark a significant milestone in the history of our young College. We have nurtured a community of learners who are now ready to pursue their dreams beyond our College campus. My heartiest congratulations to the Class of 2017! To your family and loved ones, I am delighted to celebrate with you the achievements of our graduating students, and I thank you for supporting them throughout their journey here.

As I watched each of you receiving your diplomas today, I could not help but feel like a proud parent too. I am confident that your time in the College has not only equipped you with the academic wherewhithal to forge ahead in your chosen careers, but that the many activities you participated in during your four years here have prepared you well for an active role in your community after you leave our College campus.

When I was named President-Designate of Yale-NUS College in March this year, I shared my vision of leading this remarkable college in its next phase of development and growth. Since the launch of our College in 2011, and the start of classes for our first cohort of students in 2013, the College has made significant progress in the curriculum, co-curricular programmes and residential life activities that we offer to our students. One of our key advantages is the strong partnership between our founding institutions and the rich knowledge and expertise that Yale University and the National University of Singapore (NUS) bring to our educational enterprise. To make the College distinctive and strong, the continued involvement and support from Yale and NUS is critical. Hence, continually building bridges to create more learning opportunities with our parent institutions remains a key priority.

Today, I am pleased to share two generous gifts that will enable us to build upon that foundation and strengthen our academic programmes. It gives me great pleasure to announce the establishment of the Yale Faculty Visiting Professorship, which will be instrumental in bringing eminent scholars from Yale to teach at Yale-NUS as Visiting Professors for a semester or more. This professorship will enable us to continue working with Yale faculty to shape and deliver our distinctive curriculum. We are extremely grateful that Mr Wong Ngit Liong, former Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees, and Mdm Kay Kuok, Chairperson of the Yale-NUS Governing Board, have jointly presented a gift to the College to establish this endowed visiting professorship.

In addition, we will be establishing the Wong Ngit Liong Professorship in honour of Mr Wong, who is the Chairman and CEO of Venture Corporation. During his tenure as the Chairman of NUS, Mr Wong raised the University’s reputation and played a key role in charting its strategies and goals in the areas of education, research, entrepreneurship and service. He has led NUS with wisdom and vision through his long dedicated service as Chairman of the Board. The Wong Ngit Liong Professorship, which is supported by endowed gifts from members of the NUS Board of Trustees and friends of Mr Wong, aims to bring distinguished professors from all over the world to teach in our College.

We are glad that Mr Wong is here with us today and grateful that he has agreed to have the Professorship established at the College. We assure you, Mr Wong, that we will be good stewards of this Professorship named in your honour. Please join me in thanking Mr Wong Ngit Liong and Madam Kay Kuok for their generosity.

To our Class of 2017, your journey after College will be exciting. You will enter into the workplace with its rapidly changing demands and requirements. You will work with people not just from different backgrounds, but across different ages, and face rapidly changing circumstances. But, you have already started learning to deal with this in College. The empathy and understanding you have gained from living and learning with those from different backgrounds, and the problem-solving skills you have honed from study and play in a diverse community will put you in good stead.

But, I know you will not just accept change passively. I see in many of you the qualities that will make you future change-makers. I look forward to the impact you will be making within your communities, here and across the globe. Please continue to stay in close touch with the College and be valued members of our alumni. I hope that each of you finds fulfilment and joy in all your future pursuits and I wish you the very best.

Once again, congratulations – Class of 2017!