When Anshuman Mohan, Yale-NUS Class of 2017 speaker, took the stand on 29 May at the inaugural Yale-NUS graduation ceremony, he urged his peers to look back at the four years in which the college community transformed an experiment into a reality and think about how they got here. “What is far more important is how we put this school together; how we stitched it through with our own colour, and what colours we chose,” he said.
In his opening address, Professor Pericles Lewis, the Founding President of Yale-NUS too reflected on the four years and various accomplishments that led up to the day. “I am most proud of what you have done collectively. You have shaped a community,” he told the graduating cohort. He went on to assure the graduands that the community they have formed will continue to be a “source of strength” for all of them.
Prof Lewis also reminded the students of the “ethos of service” that the College has continuously sought to build in them. “You have long and eventful lives ahead of you; I do not know what causes and communities you will serve, but I hope you will associate your days at Yale-NUS with the responsibility to be of service and that you will bring the distinctive ethos of our community along with you as you join new communities and take on new responsibilities in your future life,” he said.
A total of 119 students in the graduating cohort were presented to Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of Singapore and NUS Chancellor — 103 graduands received a Bachelor of Arts with Honours degree and 16 received a Bachelor of Science with Honours degree.
Dr Tan called the occasion a significant development in Singapore’s tertiary education. “With broad‐based and multidisciplinary learning at the core of its four-year programme, the Yale-NUS curriculum offers a unique educational experience for its students. I am confident that these Yale‐NUS graduands will bring rich skills in critical thinking and adaptability into the workforce,” he said.
Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung also graced the occasion. Calling liberal arts the “purest form of multidisciplinary education”, Mr Ong encouraged the students not to forget their unique education. “For certain students, such an education is a window to the world. It opens up their curiosity and drives their motivation to learn a lifetime,” he said.
Reminding the students that, as the inaugural cohort, the College would bear their imprint, he left them with a call to action. “Keep your sense of adventure, fearlessness, and perhaps even some of that youthful foolishness. Live life passionately, and be ready to make a difference. Leave that distinct Yale-NUS mark wherever you might venture,” he said.
Yale-NUS President-Designate Professor Tan Tai Yong emphasised the importance of building bridges in his speech, using the example of the partnership between NUS and Yale University — the founding universities — which makes the College distinctive and strong. Despite the complex and ever-changing working world, Prof Tan expressed confidence that the graduating cohort will be able to succeed. “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,” he told them.
Prof Tan also announced the establishment of two new Professorships — the Yale Faculty Visiting Professorship, jointly presented by Former NUS Chairman Mr Wong Ngit Liong and Chairperson of the Yale-NUS Governing Board Madam Kay Kuok; as well as the Wong Ngit Liong Professorship in honour of Mr Wong, which is supported by endowed gifts from members of the NUS Board of Trustees and friends of Mr Wong. Both professorships will help the College to strengthen their academic programmes. The Yale Faculty Visiting Professorship aims to bring in eminent scholars from Yale to teach at Yale-NUS while the Wong Ngit Liong Professorship will aim to bring in distinguished professors from all around the world to teach at the College.