NUS welcomes President Tharman Shanmugaratnam as 11th Chancellor

NUS welcomed its 11th Chancellor, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, President of the Republic of Singapore, on 4 January 2024 with a lunch reception held in his honour.

President Tharman was elected as Singapore's ninth President on 14 September 2023. He served in politics for 22 years before resigning to contest in the Presidential Election. President Tharman was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister for several years, and Education Minister earlier. He last served in government as Senior Minister. President Tharman also served as Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator, from 2011 to 2023.

He has been committed through his years to building economic resilience and a more inclusive social compact. On the latter, he has been especially engaged in educational reforms, sustaining social mobility, and to improving jobs for lower-income workers and making life-long learning a reality for all. He has also sought to deepen and advance Singapore’s model of multiculturalism.

President Tharman has led several international councils focused especially on global financial reforms, preparedness for future pandemics, education, and global water sustainability. He currently chairs the board of the Group of Thirty, an independent global council of economic and financial leaders from the public and private sectors. He also co-chairs the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, as well as the Advisory Board for the UN’s Human Development Report.

In his welcome speech, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said: “Our new Chancellor, often described as an urbane and well-spoken intellectual, has led a remarkable career as an economist, a political leader and a respected policy maker on the global stage.”

“Mr President’s interests in uplifting lives and building a strong, inclusive, cohesive Singapore, resonate deeply with the NUS education mission,” he told the audience. “In the coming years, we look forward to drawing upon the wisdom, experience and support of our new Chancellor as we rethink education and take the NUS’ journey forward as a leading global university, shaping the future,” Prof Tan added.  

The NUS Constitution designates the President of the Republic of Singapore as the NUS Chancellor. The Chancellor holds the authority to confer degrees and presides at the annual NUS Commencement ceremony, amongst other significant duties.

To mark the occasion, Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees, on behalf of the University, presented President Tharman with Elements of the NUS Crest, a memento comprising the lion, the book and three interlocking rings as core elements of the crest of NUS. The lion embodies the leadership qualities of courage and integrity. The book establishes the University as a gateway to the world of knowledge, while the three interlocking rings represent creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship – the hallmarks of a global knowledge enterprise.

President Tharman said: “Since its founding in 1905, NUS has grown alongside our nation, contributing to country and society. Its commitment towards scholarship, enterprise and serving the needs of the community are central to our vision of a thriving and socially cohesive future. As its 11th Chancellor, I look forward to engaging students and staff, and supporting NUS’s ceaseless efforts in shaping the minds who will create that future."