New Law and Computing deans appointed at NUS

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has announced the appointment of Professor Andrew Simester as its new Dean for the NUS Faculty of Law (NUS Law), and Professor Tan Kian Lee as the new Dean for the NUS School of Computing (NUS Computing). Both leadership appointments will take effect from 1 January 2023.

NUS President, Professor Tan Eng Chye, said, “NUS is pleased to appoint Prof Andrew Simester and Prof Tan Kian Lee to lead our highly-regarded Law and Computing schools respectively, following a rigorous search within the University and globally. As distinguished scholars in their fields, Andrew and Kian Lee bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their roles as deans. I am confident that under their leadership, NUS Law and NUS Computing will grow even stronger, achieve higher levels of excellence, and contribute to the greater good of Singapore and the wider community.”

Global leader in criminal law

A world-leading researcher in criminal law, Prof Andrew Simester takes over as Dean of NUS Law in January 2023 from Professor Simon Chesterman, who has served as Dean since January 2012.

Prof Simester joined NUS in 2006 from the UK, where he taught at the University of Cambridge and the University of Nottingham. His main interests lie in the fields of legal philosophy, criminal law, and restitution, and he has published in these areas in every major common law jurisdiction. Prof Simester’s writings in criminal law and theory have been cited by senior appellate courts throughout the world.

“Andrew is without question one of the foremost scholars of criminal law and philosophy working in the world today. He has an outstanding reputation for highly original and rigorous scholarship, that has been hugely influential in the way that criminal lawyers think about their discipline,” said Professor of Criminal Law Jeremy Horder, FBA, at the London School of Economics, UK.

“As a global leader in legal scholarship, there are few to match him. Andrew is clear-sighted, tolerant and generous in his approach to scholars and scholarship, whilst setting the highest standards himself. He should prove to be an outstanding Dean.”

Emeritus Professor of Law G R Sullivan, at the University College London, UK, said, “I have known Andrew for many years. He is a man of impeccable character. For one who is so busy and productive, it is remarkable how much time he gives to others. Andrew’s academic expertise speaks for itself. He is a figure of world renown in the fields of Criminal Law, Criminal Law Theory and general legal theory. Andrew has the experience and skills to be an exceptionally competent Dean.”

In recognition of his research in criminal law and theory, Prof Simester was elected in 2007 to a fellowship at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge; he has also held an honorary professorship at the University of Oxford. In 2019, Prof Simester received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden. Since 2015, he has held the Edmund-Davies Chair in Criminal Law at King’s College London, where he has taught on a part-time basis.

Commenting on his appointment, Prof Simester said, “I am delighted to be the next Dean of NUS Law. Our Law Faculty is already renowned in Singapore, Asia, and globally as a centre of excellence for legal education and research. I look forward to collaborating with our students, colleagues, alumni, and the wider legal community in Singapore, to build on our success to date and to aim even higher in the years to come.”

Inspirational research leader in Big Data

Professor Tan Kian Lee, who is Tan Sri Runme Shaw Senior Professor of Computer Science and Executive Director of the Singapore Data Science Consortium, will be Dean of NUS Computing in January next year. He succeeds Professor Mohan Kankanhalli, who has been Dean since July 2016.

An outstanding home-grown researcher and data scientist, Prof Tan was Head of Department of Computer Science from 2014 to 2020. His research focuses on issues related to managing and analysing Big Data. He seeks to design advanced algorithms for processing analytic queries efficiently and securely, and to integrate them into large scale systems that are truly usable.

“Kian Lee is a distinguished academic leader who has made many significant and high impact research contributions to the international Data Management research community. He always leads with integrity, grace and thoughtfulness, be it as mentor to many early career scholars, Head of Department and colleague, and even as Director of the Singapore Data Science Consortium and industry partner to the broader Data Science ecosystem in Singapore. He is a true role model and inspirational research leader,” said Dr Shonali Krishnaswamy, Chief Technology Officer at AIDA Technologies Pte Ltd.

Mr Oliver Tian, Director of Oliver Tian Associates and Honorary Advisory Mentor of Asia Pacific Assistive Robotics Association, said, “Kian Lee is a distinguished academic whom I have known for more than three decades.  Deep-thinking and forward-looking, he carries himself well amongst his peers and students. Kian Lee is one person whom I can fully rely on with respect to applied research in resources optimisation, multiprocessors, and data analytics and performance - a truly global scholar!  I am very certain his appointment as Dean of NUS Computing will add tremendous value to grooming young talents at NUS who will carry his teachings into the industry.”

Prof Tan was a recipient of the NUS Outstanding University Researcher Award in 1998, and a co-recipient of Singapore's President Science Award in 2011. He received an IEEE Technical Achievement Award in 2013.

Prof Tan said, “I am deeply humbled and honoured to be the next Dean of NUS Computing. As a student and later, a faculty member, I’ve seen the School grow from a small department into one of the world’s top computing schools. Together with my talented colleagues, we will continue to build upon our strengths in education and research to nurture the next generation of socially responsible computing professionals and leaders, as well as to provide a stimulating environment for transformational research that will shape the way we live, work, play and interact with one another.”

Recording his thanks to the two outgoing deans, President Tan said, “I extend my deepest appreciation to Prof Simon Chesterman and Prof Mohan Kankanhalli for their outstanding contributions as Dean of Law and Dean of Computing respectively. Under their able leadership, NUS Law and NUS Computing have established themselves as world-leading schools for highly talented students, faculty and staff from around the world. I am pleased that Simon and Mohan will continue to contribute to NUS in other important roles.”

Prof Chesterman, who is NUS’ longest serving Law Dean for 11 years, will continue in his roles as Vice Provost (Educational Innovation), Dean of NUS College, David Marshall Professor of Law, and Senior Director (AI Governance) at AI Singapore.

During his tenure as Dean of NUS Law, Prof Chesterman and his team brought in resources to create six new research centres in areas ranging from Maritime Law and Legal Theory to Artificial Intelligence, as well as endow eight new named chairs. He also launched the Sheridan Fellows programme, cultivating the next generation of Singapore law scholars.

Prof Chesterman and the deanery steered NUS Law through the COVID-19 pandemic and worked towards revising the curriculum to ensure that law students are empowered to take advantage of the digital future.

Reflecting on his time as Dean of Law, Prof Chesterman said, “This is the best job I’ve ever had. The opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in legal academia – and to teach the best students in the world – has been a privilege I’ll never forget. In addition, given how important law is to Singapore’s development and success, I’m honoured to have been a small part of that larger story. Andrew has long been an outstanding mentor to junior colleagues and is one of the most influential scholars of criminal law and theory. I look forward to seeing where he and NUS Law go next, supporting both in any way that I can.”

Prof Kankanhalli will continue to serve as Director of NUS Centre for Research in Privacy Technologies (N-CRiPT), and Deputy Executive Chairman of AI Singapore.

Under his leadership, NUS Computing saw unprecedented growth in undergraduate enrolment and applications to its master’s degree programmes. Enrolment at NUS Computing is now highly competitive, with the school admitting the best students from Singapore and around the world.

The many initiatives launched by Prof Kankanhalli during his tenure as Dean of NUS Computing include Makers@SoC, the Computing Translational Research and Development Centre, Advanced Computing for Executives, and the Centre for Computing for Social Good and Philanthropy.

Commenting on the renewal of leadership at NUS Computing, Prof Kankanhalli said: “It has been my privilege to serve the School during one of its most exciting phase of growth. Along with both faculty and administrative colleagues, we have been able to start many new forward-looking initiatives for the School which will be quite impactful in the years to come. The School now has a very solid foundation in terms of talent, infrastructure, resources and reputation. Moreover, the pandemic experience has once again demonstrated the immense potential of technology to do good for society. I am therefore very confident that the School is poised to attain even greater heights under Kian Lee’s leadership!”

Prof Simester and Prof Tan will be Dean-designate of NUS Law and Dean-designate of NUS Computing respectively from 1 September 2022. They will assume the position of deans from January 2023.

Please click here for the brief biographies of Prof Andrew Simester and Prof Tan Kian Lee, or read our full press release here