Happy 90th, Arts and Social Sciences

Mrs Teo, an NUS alumna, catching up with guests at the gala dinner

NUS Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) celebrated its 90th anniversary with a gala dinner at Carlton Hotel on 15 November that brought together close to 300 alumni, faculty, staff and students.

One of the Faculty’s eminent alumni, Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo, was the event’s Guest-of-Honour. In her speech, she shared that as an Economics and Statistics major, she researched the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Approved Investment Scheme — now known as the CPF Investment Scheme — in her Honours year under the tutelage of Professor Saw Swee Hock. This topic now forms an important part of her work. 

With people living to 100 or beyond, patterns of working life and retirement will change… The CPF will need to evolve to keep pace with these changes.

She explained that the issue of retirement adequacy is an important area of social science research for ageing societies like Singapore’s, and applauded academics such as Professor Lim Pin, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan and Associate Professor Chia Ngee Choon who have made important contributions to CPF policy.

“With people living to 100 or beyond, patterns of working life and retirement will change… The CPF will need to evolve to keep pace with these changes,” she said, adding that it must remain a “live system, always evolving and ever-responsive to emerging needs.”

As an example, she noted that the CPF Basic Retirement Sum needs to be regularly adjusted to account for inflation and rising living standards. Mrs Teo called upon FASS to continue to contribute to research that can make an impact in this facet of Singapore society.


Prof Goh delivering his welcome address to the attendees, in which he chronicled FASS' growth over the last 90 years and paid tribute to its patrons, faculty and alumni

FASS has indeed come a long way. Dean Professor Robbie Goh reminisced about the Faculty’s history, which began in 1929 with just 43 students reading English, Economics, History and Geography at Raffles College. At the time, these pioneer students had concerns about the validity and worth of the diploma they were working towards.

“Fast forward 90 years later, and FASS takes in about 1600 undergraduate students each year. It has 16 departments offering 20 majors. Among its alumni have been a President and a Prime Minister of Singapore, several Ministers and ambassadors, top civil servants, CEOs, entrepreneurs, educators, well-known actors and musicians, and others who have contributed much to the world. The majority of its departments are regularly ranked among the top 25 globally or higher. And today, nobody has concerns about the validity and worth of its degrees,” said Prof Goh.


Prof Goh performing "You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor


NUS Ilsa Tari performing a traditional Malay dance 

The event also featured a performance by Prof Goh, who wowed the crowd with his musical talent, while NUS Ilsa Tari showcased its Malay dance repertoire.


From left: Prof Goh, Prof Ho and Zoey filling a time capsule with FASS mementos 

To commemorate the anniversary, NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua, Prof Goh and NUS Students’ Arts and Social Sciences Club (FASS Club) President Zoey Lim filled a time capsule with mementos like a soft toy of FASS mascot Arthur, a photo of the Deanery, a FASS Club hoodie, FASS collaterals, items from each Department, as well as the 15 November 2019 issue of The Straits Times. The capsule will be opened on the occasion of FASS’ 150th anniversary in 2079.

Aside from Mrs Teo, other distinguished alumni in attendance included FASS Alumni Award winners Mr Ho Kwon Ping, Dr Lee Soo Ann and Mrs Ann Wee.