Professor Simon Chesterman stays on as Dean of Law

Professor Simon Chesterman will be continuing on as Dean of the Faculty of Law (NUS Law) for a fourth term. The extension of Prof Chesterman’s appointment as NUS Law’s 14th Dean follows a recent decision by Professor Hans Tjio to relinquish his upcoming appointment as Dean for medical reasons.

The University will convene a global search for Professor Chesterman’s successor within the first year of his new term.

Prof Tjio, who is CJ Koh Professor of Law and Director of the EW Barker Centre for Law and Business, was announced as the Faculty’s next Dean on 12 March 2021. He informed the University leadership of his difficult decision to relinquish the appointment on 26 March 2021. The University has accepted his decision.

“It is with deep regret that I step away from the Law Dean appointment. I am grateful for the confidence and support the University, the Law Dean Search Committee and colleagues have shown me during the search and appointment process.

"My thanks to NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye and Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua for accepting my decision. It was a difficult outcome but one that I felt was necessary for medical reasons. I congratulate Prof Simon Chesterman on his fourth term as Law Dean, and look forward to working alongside Simon and my NUS Law colleagues and making my contribution in a different way,” said Prof Tjio.

Prof Tjio will continue to focus on his responsibilities in teaching, research and engagement with the industry and legal profession. He remains a senior faculty member of NUS Law and will contribute through his various appointments within and outside the University.

NUS President Prof Tan Eng Chye said, “Hans is a highly respected colleague and an outstanding legal scholar with strong ties with the industry and regulators – someone whom we believed could take NUS Law to the next level. It is therefore with deep regret that we accept his decision to relinquish the Law Dean appointment. We fully respect Hans’ reasons for doing so, and look forward to his continued contributions to NUS Law and NUS as an esteemed senior faculty member.

“My thanks to Simon for graciously agreeing to continue as Dean for another term. My congratulations to Simon also, on his new role as Senior Director for AI Governance at AI Singapore. I have full confidence that Simon will continue to build on the strong foundation he has established for NUS Law and take Asia’s Global Law School towards greater success.”

Prof Chesterman, who was first appointed Dean of NUS Law on 1 January 2012, will now serve until 30 June 2023.

Said Prof Chesterman, “Leadership renewal is important in any organisation, but I respect Hans’ decision. My only condition for staying on was that this fourth term should not be as a mere placeholder. I am therefore taking this opportunity to refresh my team and together we will focus on two key challenges confronting our community.

“The first is bringing NUS Law through the COVID-19 pandemic. We have already moved back into the classroom and the moot court, but with last year’s graduation ceremony cancelled and this year’s taking place under severe restrictions we are far from ‘normal’. That said, our experiments with tech-enhanced education and research have opened doors that will help us build back better.

“That’s related to my second major goal, which is revising our curriculum to ensure that our students are empowered to take advantage of the digital future. We recently created pathways for students from more diverse backgrounds to enter Law and for Law students to have a baseline of knowledge and pursue minors in computer science. Moving forward, we want to broaden and deepen these opportunities for all students. Such initiatives complement the new role that I will also be taking on as Senior Director of AI Governance at AI Singapore, a national programme on artificial intelligence supported by the National Research Foundation and hosted at NUS.

“I’m still committed to leadership renewal — and that elusive sabbatical! — but I’m also excited to be playing a part in this next chapter of NUS Law.”