New professorship in humanities and sciences established with $2 million donation to boost interdisciplinary education at NUS

The Peggy Wai Chee Leong-Hochstadt Professorship in Humanities and Sciences will further strengthen cross-disciplinary learning at the NUS College of Humanities and Sciences.

A new professorship commencing in August 2023 known as the NUS Peggy Wai Chee Leong-Hochstadt Professorship in Humanities and Sciences will further strengthen cross-disciplinary learning in the NUS College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS).

Established through a $2 million donation from Mr Herman Ronald Hochstadt, an NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) alumnus, it was launched in memory of his late wife, Mrs Peggy Wai Chee Leong-Hochstadt. Birthed from Mr and Mrs Hochstadt’s strong belief in the transformative power of education, it will support education and research in English Language, English Literature, Theatre Studies, History, Philosophy, or Mathematics.

Mr Hochstadt, a former top civil servant, had made the generous donation earlier this year to honour Mrs Hochstadt’s contributions to the NUS Libraries, the NUS community and the library profession in Singapore.  

Mrs Hochstadt joined the university library service in 1960 and served as NUS’ first Chief Librarian from 1980 until 1990. She was one of Singapore’s pioneer and outstanding librarians and had made substantial contributions to NUS Libraries and the profession as a whole. Her efforts included overseeing the transformation of NUS Libraries into an innovative hybrid library from a traditional card catalogue and print-based library.

Speaking at an appreciation event held to commemorate the establishment of the professorship on 14 Nov 2022, Guest-of-Honour, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean emphasised the importance of cross-disciplinary education and research.

“Many of the world's ongoing challenges, opportunities, and innovations – from sustainable living to digital finance – now occur at the nexus of different domains and industries… Addressing these issues often require experts from different domains to work together in multidisciplinary teams,” he said.

In expressing his appreciation for the establishment of this new professorship, Professor Lionel Wee, Dean of FASS, thanked Mr Hochstadt’s support for CHS’ efforts to equip students with relevant skills to thrive in the future economy.

Prof Wee said, “NUS recognises that graduates entering the workforce will increasingly require breadth of knowledge, depth, as well as the ability to integrate multiple disciplines to solve complex problems. This is increasingly important in light of an emerging era characterised by discontinuous change, uncertainty and growing complexity.”

Prof Chitra Sankaran, Acting Head of FASS’ Department of English, Linguistics and Theatre Studies (ELTS) where the professorship will reside, said that the new professorship will ensure ELTS stays at the fore of its field and continues to attract top talents to teach and research, providing a strong learning experience for its students.

A portrait of the late Mrs Hochstadt was also unveiled at the special occasion held at the NUS Bukit Timah Campus, attended by close family and friends of Mr and Mrs Hochstadt, NUS President Prof Tan Eng Chye and other senior faculty members.