NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye conferred Honorary Doctor of Management by Universiti Malaya

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye has been conferred the Honorary Doctor of Management by Universiti Malaya (UM) in recognition of his instrumental role and dedicated efforts in supporting the Malaysian university’s Transformation Plan – a 10-year blueprint to chart UM’s journey towards academic and intellectual excellence.

The honorary doctorate was presented to Prof Tan at the opening session of UM’s 63rd Convocation Ceremony on 25 November 2023, which was presided by UM Chancellor, His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, the Sultan of the State of Perak.    

Prof Tan was lauded for establishing a partnership between the two institutions, spearheading initiatives such as expertise-sharing sessions, a researcher exchange programme, opportunities for global collaboration, and building networks with UM at the highest levels to drive the quality of higher education.

In addition, he implemented various targeted initiatives such as the PhD Mobility and Scholarships programmes, which were extended to top UM candidates to pursue their PhD studies at NUS. “This has created opportunities for accomplished individuals to advance their higher education journey while fostering cross-cultural academic exchange,” UM said in a statement. 

Taking to the stage to accept the honorary doctorate, Prof Tan said he was “deeply honoured and humbled” and expressed his commitment to deepening engagements between NUS and UM. “There is so much we can do and achieve together, to build stronger ties between our people, industry and institutions, and to tap on each other’s strengths and connections. This honorary degree, which I am privileged to accept, adds to the rich and deep kinship between the two institutions,” he said.  

Recalling that UM was the first university he visited following his appointment as NUS President in 2018, Prof Tan emphasised the special relationship between the two universities, “bound by a shared history, geographical proximity, and a familiar climate, culture and cuisine”. In particular, he highlighted the longstanding tradition of the annual UM-NUS Inter-University Tunku Chancellor Golf Tournament which has spanned over five decades.

Pointing to their roles as flagship public universities, Prof Tan said both NUS and UM contribute to shaping the future of their respective countries and can work together to develop their graduates to navigate future growth opportunities, such as the booming ASEAN region whose combined GDP makes it the world’s 5th largest economy. “UM and NUS can serve as bridges to strengthen networks between people, industry and institutions within the region, to open opportunities for the flow of ideas, innovation, collaboration, market access and more,” he affirmed.

Adding that many bilateral initiatives are ongoing, including in medical education and research on infectious diseases, he also cited the opportunity to strengthen ties and networks with UM in the areas of innovation and student entrepreneurship.

The honorary doctorate is the latest accolade for Prof Tan, coming a year after he was awarded the Knight of the French Order of the Legion of Honour for his distinguished contributions to education and research. In 2018, he was awarded the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal in honour of exceptional alumni by Yale University and the Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Southampton for his achievements in teaching and academia.

He joins the list of past UM honorary degree recipients recognised for making significant contributions in their respective fields. They include NUS University Professor and renowned historian Wang Gungwu, who was awarded a Doctor of Letters in 2022; former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad; former South African President Nelson Mandela and Egyptian-American Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Ahmed Zewail.