NUS Commencement 2017 will see a total of 10,654 graduates receive their degrees — 6,622 receiving bachelor degrees and 4,032 graduate degrees — over 24 ceremonies from 6 to 13 July at the University Cultural Centre. It will also see the pioneer graduating class of Yale-NUS College, as well as students from the Bachelor of Science (Business Analytics) programme and the Master of Laws (International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution) programme.
Kicking off the celebrations were about 230 graduates from NUS Business, NUS Computing and Yale-NUS College, who received their scrolls at the main ceremony on 6 July. This year’s proceedings also saw honorary degrees — the University’s highest accolade — being bestowed by NUS Chancellor and Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam on two extraordinary individuals: Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (the Forum); and Mr Gerard Ee, Chairman of Charity Council, Chairman of Eastern Health Alliance and President of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, who both received the Honorary Doctor of Letters.
“It is vital that our students graduate with the skills, knowledge and abilities to do well in their chosen careers. Beyond these, however, there are two critical areas which I hope NUS graduates will continually cultivate. First, to grow a mindset which looks with optimism to the possibilities of the future and is not deterred by obstacles along the way; second, to contribute in service and have a positive impact on society,” said NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan in his customary Commencement speech.
Prof Tan added that he hoped they would take inspiration from Prof Schwab and Mr Ee, and venture forth with the same spirit of optimism and contribution, with resolve, resourcefulness and resilience, and make their own distinctive mark.
Delivering the citation for Prof Schwab was Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School) at NUS, who commended Prof Schwab’s international leadership contributions, high international standing and significant contributions to NUS.
Prof Schwab founded the Forum in 1971 as an independent, impartial, not-for-profit Foundation committed to improving the state of the world. Under his exceptional leadership, the Forum has become the world’s preeminent platform for public and private cooperation, consequently enhancing global peace and prosperity, generating new ideas and visions, and improving the lives of billions.
“It is no secret that the outstanding success of the Forum is a result of the dynamic and imaginative leadership that Prof Klaus has provided to the Forum over 60 years…In our rapidly changing world, Prof Klaus is able to reinvent Davos each year. This is why all the leaders of various dimensions of human society converge at Davos each year. They will leave Davos with sparkling new insights into the human condition,” said Prof Mahbubani.
In 1998, Prof Schwab created the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship to identify, recognise and disseminate successful social entrepreneurship initiatives with the potential to be replicated on a global scale, and which currently supports over 350 social entrepreneurs. He also established the Forum of Young Global Leaders in 2004 and the Global Shapers Community in 2011, to encourage the engagement of young people in global decision-making processes and social projects.
He has also been strongly supportive of NUS’ active participation in the Forum’s activities, which has aided NUS’ rapid rise as a global university.
Prof Schwab holds 15 honorary doctorates and national medals of honour and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. His latest bestselling book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, has been translated in over 20 languages.
On 5 July, Prof Schwab gave an exclusive talk on “Leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” at LKY School, speaking on the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly digitised and robotised world.
“I am deeply honoured by this honorary degree which was bestowed on me by such a prestigious university," said Prof Schwab in his acceptance speech. He added, “It is us who can shape the Revolution for the good of mankind…my message to you the graduates is, make this new world, very much characterised by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, make it more human-centered”.
Professor Robbie Goh, Dean of NUS Arts and Social Sciences, delivered the citation for Mr Ee, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in community service and charity work, which have had a deep and uplifting impact on Singapore society.
“Over the course of his career to date, Mr Gerard Ee has personified a selfless and tireless devotion to the people of Singapore, and has carried out his many high-level contributions to society with courage, faith and integrity. He has lived out his principle ‘to mean what you say, and say what you mean, and have a clear conscience over it’, regardless of the difficult situations he has often faced. He has embodied the ethos of giving back rather than taking, of the successful helping the disadvantaged, of caring for others rather than for oneself,” said Prof Goh.
A practising auditor, Mr Ee retired as Partner of Ernst and Young in 2005. He was a Board Member of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and Council Member of the Accounting Standards Council. He was also a Nominated Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2002, President of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) from 2002 to 2006, and restored public faith in the National Kidney Foundation as its President after a corruption scandal in 2005. He served as Chairman of the Assisi Home and Hospice until 2002 and chaired Bizlink Centre, an employment programme for the disabled, until 1992.
While at NCSS, he launched the Code of Governance and Management for voluntary welfare organisations and the Social Service Training Institute, which strengthened the sector and led to greater accountability and transparency.
At NUS, Mr Ee was part of the fundraising committee for the S R Nathan Professorship in Social Work, which aims to promote social work education and research in Singapore and Asia on social development, poverty and asset building. In addition, Mr Ee was advisor to the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund established in 2002 and on the Resource Committee for the NUS Centre for Social Development Asia.
A person of great integrity, he was also asked to take on challenging public roles including the Chairmanship of the Public Transport Council and the Ministerial Salary Review Committee.
In receiving the Honorary Doctorate, Mr Ee continues the legacy of his father, Dr Ee Peng Liang, who was conferred the same degree by NUS in 1976.
“The certificate and commemorative photos will be framed and displayed in my home with pride. However, it serves as a reminder that much more is expected of me henceforth. Like any other certificate, its true value comes from the achievements which follow, otherwise it is just a piece of paper,” said Mr Ee. He encouraged the graduates to develop and pursue their passion, which will be their competitive advantage in all that they do.
In a witty but meaningful speech as Valedictorian, Kevin Low Eng Meng from Yale-NUS College, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) with Honours, congratulated his peers and encouraged them to embrace failure as a necessary part of being human and treasure the often overlooked moments in life.
Following the ceremony, a lunch reception was held in honour of the honorary graduates who both, as put by Prof Tan, “exemplify the personal qualities that can serve as a beacon for our community”.
NUS Commencement 2017 will conclude with Commencement Dinner on 14 July.
Read speech by NUS President.
Read citation for Prof Klaus Schwab by Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Read citation for Mr Gerard Ee by Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Click here for more on Commencement 2017, including a live webcast of each ceremony.