Yale-NUS College (Yale-NUS), Singapore's first liberal arts residential college, inaugurated its new campus today in a celebration attended by notable guests, local and global. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the Guest-of-Honour at the ceremony, while other attendees included Mr Ong Ye Kung, Singapore's Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), and leaders from educational institutions in Singapore and overseas.
In his opening remarks, Professor Pericles Lewis, Yale-NUS Founding President, shared the College's philosophy, "We have dedicated ourselves to the principles that underpin advanced learning: free inquiry, open discussion, respect for a diversity of views, and the constant search for knowledge. He said that Yale-NUS aims to educate students "in a spirit of service to society and to the broader international community that is our best hope in an age of great possibilities and grave dangers.
Following this, Yale University President Professor Peter Salovey presented Yale-NUS with a bronze statue of American patriot Nathan Hale, who graduated from the university in 1773. Prof Salovey underscored Mr Hale's courage and single-minded determination, values that "exemplified the spirit in which Yale-NUS has been founded.
NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan presented a specially commissioned Chinese ink painting to the College. Titled Spirit of the Explorer, the work of art depicted a landscape with a myriad of walking paths. He explained that the art "encompasses imagination, boldness, resourcefulness, courage and resilience. Prof Tan added, "This spirit underpinned the partnership between NUS and Yale to establish the Yale-NUS College, a unique and groundbreaking initiative. It continues to drive NUS' and Yale's enduring commitment to the success of the partnership and the Yale-NUS College.
In his speech, Prime Minister Lee spoke of the value which Yale-NUS brought to the country's educational ecosystem, highlighting its broad-based liberal arts programme, innovative pedagogy and relevance to students from Asia and beyond. Drawing a comparison between Asia and the US, Mr Lee said that Yale-NUS needed a curriculum and a college ethos which could respond to the regional context to benefit its students. "Its graduates have to understand these countries, have a feel of how they work, what they need, how they can move forward…Then they can be effective working in these countries, and helping them to change and to adapt to a rapidly changing world, said Mr Lee. He ended his address by encouraging the College to go forth and change the world.
Following the inauguration ceremony, PM Lee toured the campus, stopping at the Multi-Purpose Hall where he was greeted by Yale-NUS students and faculty. He reminded the jubilant crowd of their lineage, Yale and NUS, and urged them to make the most of their time on the new campus, and to enjoy the experience.
Mr Lee later interacted with faculty, students and staff at a private reception.
Founded in 2011, Yale-NUS' residential programme integrates campus living and learning. The College emphasises a broad-based multidisciplinary approach that leverages the strengths of liberal arts traditions while introducing the students to the diverse intellectual traditions and cultures worldwide. Yale-NUS' pioneer batch of 150 students, now in their third year, is set to graduate in 2017. At steady state, the student population will number 1,000.
The 64,000 sq m college campus, set amid lush greenery, features a diverse selection of more than 200 species of plants. Adopting a "learning landscape model that fuses the designs of East and West, the sustainable approach took into account the conservation of existing trees, one of which is an extremely rare Margaritaria indica. For its efforts at creating ecologically friendly landscapes, Yale-NUS was awarded the Landscape Excellence Assessment Framework certification by Singapore's National Parks Board in 2014, the first educational institution to receive the honour.
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