New President for Yale-NUS College

Professor Joanne Roberts, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at Yale-NUS College, will be Yale-NUS President from 1 July 2022.

She will take over the reins from outgoing President Professor Tan Tai Yong, who has been helming the College since July 2017 and will be completing his full five-year term in June next year.

Prof Roberts, who will be the third President in the history of Yale-NUS College, joined Yale-NUS in 2017 as its inaugural Associate Dean of Faculty (Faculty Development) and was promoted to the Dean of Faculty role later that year. She strengthened the tenure review process as well as mentorship programmes to groom junior faculty, and contributed towards creating a holistic residential experience for Yale-NUS students.

As the current Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, she oversees academic and student programming, admissions, financial aid, curriculum, research, experiential learning and student support.

An esteemed economist who believes deeply in the liberal arts model of education, Prof Roberts shared that she is honoured to lead the “incredible community” at Yale-NUS in the years ahead.

“Our students and graduates have demonstrated their spirit of adventure and tenacity, securing amazing jobs and fellowships after graduation, and creating positive change within their communities.”

She further praised the College’s diverse faculty and staff, who have been instrumental in enabling the Yale-NUS community to be dynamic and forward-looking.

“I am excited to continue this good work, alongside our dedicated community members, to ensure the continued success of Yale-NUS and making sure its legacy continues beyond the end of my term. I thank President Tan Tai Yong for entrusting me with something so precious and his many years of guidance and leadership.”

Leadership transition

The leadership transition comes after the Yale-NUS Governing Board unanimously voted to appoint Prof Roberts as Prof Tan’s successor following his successful five-year term.

Prof Tan served as Yale-NUS’ Executive Vice President (Academic Affairs) from 2014 to 2017, and later that year took over the College’s leadership from founding President Professor Pericles Lewis.

Under Prof Tan, Yale-NUS grew into a highly respected liberal arts college both in Singapore and overseas, constantly punching above its weight in achievements. Yale-NUS’ Common Curriculum has garnered much attention for its interdisciplinary and immersive liberal arts and sciences model, especially pertinent to the ever-changing world and workplace. Students, faculty and staff have also created a tight-knit community of living and learning.

Prof Tan has led the College through many challenges and hurdles, including the COVID-19 pandemic. He also steered the College with a steady hand through the announcement of the merger of Yale-NUS with the University Scholars Programme (USP).

“My work with Yale-NUS College in the past decade has been extremely fulfilling – from recruiting inaugural Yale-NUS faculty and shaping the signature academic programme of the College, to working with remarkable colleagues and students who embody the Yale-NUS ethos and spirit,” said Prof Tan, an eminent historian and expert in South and Southeast Asian history.

He added that Yale-NUS College has greatly demonstrated the value of an interdisciplinary, immersive liberal arts and sciences model for Singapore, and has produced many cohorts of outstanding graduates.

“As I hand over stewardship of this remarkable college to Professor Roberts, I am confident that our students will continue to benefit from the extraordinary Yale-NUS experience in the coming years.”

Thanks to Prof Tan, confidence in Prof Roberts

Mdm Kay Kuok, Chairman of the Yale-NUS Governing Board, also expressed confidence in Prof Roberts’ leadership, saluting her “personal warmth and tireless engagement”.

“Joanne has established strong relationships for the College, bringing in a robust pipeline of visiting professors and establishing deep ties with Yale and NUS. This has resulted in many joint initiatives, the most recent being a partnership with the NUS Faculty of Engineering to offer the Yale-NUS minor in Innovation and Design to our students,” said Mdm Kuok.

“The entire Governing Board is delighted that Joanne has accepted this appointment. We are confident that she will capably lead the College during the next three years, ensuring that we provide the Yale-NUS experience to all our students and making sure that Yale-NUS is supported in the transitional years ahead.

“As Tai Yong ends his term, I am pleased to announce that we have found an extremely worthy candidate to succeed him.”

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye added, “Tai Yong’s contributions to Yale-NUS have been nothing short of impressive, and we will continue to benefit from his expertise and experience as he returns to scholarship and research in the University.”

He thanked Prof Tan Tai Yong for his tireless service as Yale-NUS President, and warmly welcomed Prof Roberts as the next Yale-NUS President.

Involvement in New College planning

Moving forward, both Prof Tan and Prof Roberts will play key roles in the formation and development of the New College, a merger between Yale-NUS and USP.

Prof Tan will continue to chair the Faculty Appointments Working Group to oversee the career growth and development of Yale-NUS faculty, including their future transition to NUS, while ensuring that that Yale-NUS maintains a strong core of faculty to deliver its academic programmes to current students.

On her part, Prof Roberts is chairing the Common Curriculum Working Group which looks into distilling the essence of the Yale-NUS and USP education models to form the foundation of the New College’s curriculum. Together, the team is set to take the New College to greater heights.