To mark NUS’ 110th anniversary as well as Singapore’s 50th year of independence, the University held a special community event at Taman Jurong Community Club on 1 February to launch its yearlong celebrations along the theme of “Because We Care”.
The NUS110 opening event on Sunday was graced by Guest-of-Honour Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam and special guest Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of the Central Singapore District and member of the NUS Alumni Advisory Board. More than 1,000 NUS staff, students and alumni, neighbourhood residents, grassroots leaders and members of the public attended the event.
“NUS is honoured to celebrate our 110th year of founding together with Singapore’s Golden Jubilee. Over the past century, NUS remained steadfast in our commitment to educate and nurture generations of talented individuals. Our alumni have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to Singapore and the world beyond,” said NUS Chairman Mr Wong Ngit Liong in an earlier statement.
The University traces its roots to a modest medical school founded in 1905 through the strong support of the local community. NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan noted that the launch in Taman Jurong was symbolic as medical students, through the NUS Medical Society (MedSoc), have been working with the Taman Jurong Citizens' Consultative Committee since 2008 to provide regular free health screening to residents in rental flats and following up with those with chronic diseases. This initiative has since grown to become the largest, student-run community service programme in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, involving some 300 medical students as well as nursing and social work students, said Prof Tan.
And while NUS has changed dramatically into the leading global university it is today, the University had stayed true to the founding spirit of service to the community. For a university founded by the community for the community, holding the start of the NUS110 celebrations in the heart of the community was therefore significant.
“NUS110 is a very timely opportunity for us to reflect, share and celebrate service to the community and we felt that it would be most meaningful for us to do this in the community, rather than on the NUS campus," he noted.
To mark the milestone celebration, Prof Tan announced a new initiative: the “NUS Community Advancement with Research and Education Synergies” (NUS CARES).
A community advancement programme, NUS CARES will pair partner organisations with NUS faculty, researchers and students to leverage on the University’s research and academic expertise to identify and find solutions to persistent problems for the betterment of the community at large.
"[NUS CARES] is meant to be a 'solutioning platform'," said Prof Tan. "We ... will pilot practical solutions, and if successful, disseminate the key learning points that would allow scaling up of effective practices."
NUS CARES will start with three projects: the Wheelchair Project with the Central Singapore Community Development Council; the National University Hospital Frequent Admitters Project with the National University Health System; and Social Impact Measurement of MedSoc’s Neighbourhood Health Service (NHS).
DPM Tharman, who recalled discussing the start of NHS with Dr Tan Chong Keat (a Year 2 medical student at the time), commended NUS on its efforts in applying its scholarship to benefit the community. He said that he hoped it would inspire others to do the same.
“We haven’t become what we are today by building individual futures for ourselves. It’s always been about building a future for ourselves and our community. That’s the Singapore story. I’m very happy that that spirit is so strong in NUS. That it’s not just about nurturing graduates to have good careers for themselves, although that’s important. It’s about strengthening our community and Singapore for the future,” said DPM Tharman.
After the launch ceremony, DPM Tharman, who is also Advisor to the Jurong GRC Grassroots Organisations, joined NHS medical students on their follow-up visits with two residents at nearby blocks of flats.
DPM Tharman, Mr Wong and Prof Tan also took part in Taman Jurong Community Club's SG50 eye-dotting ceremony for 50 new lions for the area's lion and dragon dance troupes.
Guests attending the opening event toured the “Because We Care” student showcase featuring community initiatives, and attended talks on diabetes and health screening. Children participated in “Little Scientists” and “Little Architects” workshops by NUS start-up Explorer Junior, and had their faces painted.
Students from the NUS Community Service Club also packed and delivered door-to-door household provisions donated by Lam Soon Pte Ltd, and items contributed by NUS, to 500 households in Taman Jurong.
The opening event begins a series of signature NUS110 events and initiatives to be launched for the year. Some of these events will be open to the public, such as the NUS Science & Technology Exhibition showcasing NUS’ cutting-edge contributions to Singapore’s science and technology landscape; others include an international conference on “future-proofing” Singapore for the next 50 years; and the official opening of the country’s first natural history museum.
Please visit nus110.sg for more information.
Read Prof Tan’s speech.
Read media coverage of the NUS110 opening event.