Inaugural Dean of new NUS College appointed

The National University of Singapore (NUS) announced today that it has appointed Professor Simon Chesterman as Dean-designate of its new NUS College with effect from 1 January 2022. He will continue to serve as Dean of the Faculty of Law (NUS Law) while the University convenes a global search for his successor.

From 1 July 2022, Prof Chesterman will assume the role of inaugural Dean of NUS College and will also be concurrently appointed Vice Provost (Educational Innovation) at NUS, where he will focus on extending best practices in education — in particular, those piloted in NUS College — across the whole of NUS.

A recognised authority on international law, Prof Chesterman has been a faculty member at NUS Law since 2007, and has served as Law Dean since 2012. He has been instrumental in transforming legal education in Singapore, including increasing Asian and civil law content, as well as enhancing experiential learning opportunities through a Centre for Pro Bono & Clinical Legal Education. In 2021, he led the implementation of a pilot initiative to broaden student diversity at NUS Law. More technology and business-related modules were also recently introduced at the law school to ensure that its students stay relevant in the legal profession.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “A strong advocate for interdisciplinary education, Simon is an inspirational and collaborative leader who has contributed much to the higher education landscape in Singapore and internationally. He is an accomplished scholar and passionate educator. Under his stewardship, NUS Law is today the leading law school in Asia and is consistently ranked among the best in the world. I am confident that under Simon’s leadership, our new NUS College will have a strong beginning.”

A Rhodes scholar, Prof Chesterman obtained his PhD in International Law from the University of Oxford in 2000 and has taught at the Universities of Melbourne, Oxford, Southampton, Columbia and Sciences Po. From 2006 to 2011, he served as Global Professor and Director of the New York University School of Law Singapore Programme. In 2021, he was appointed Senior Director of AI Governance at AI Singapore and also took on the role of Co-President of the Law Schools Global League.

“I am humbled and deeply honoured to serve as the inaugural Dean of NUS College,” said Prof Chesterman. “Attending university is about more than just studies and preparing for a career. It should do that, of course, but it is also a time of self-exploration and growth, pursuing one’s passion while working alongside those from different backgrounds. I’m excited at the chance to work with my colleagues and our students to build NUS College into Singapore’s first true honours college. It will be a new educational journey that transcends disciplinary and geographical boundaries — education without limits.”

NUS College: Singapore’s first honours college

In August 2021, NUS unveiled plans to form a new undergraduate honours college that will offer a broad-based, interdisciplinary education through deeper integration with the rest of NUS. An honours college (set usually within a larger university) offers an academically challenging overlay to the undergraduate experience, where students from a variety of majors can come together for a holistic, rigorous curriculum which can complement their chosen majors. Its unique features include small class sizes, interactive, seminar-style teaching, on-campus residential living and learning in a closely-knit community, smaller faculty-to-student ratios, vibrant student life and pastoral care, as well as curated opportunities for global exposure, peer networking and character development.

Bringing together the best elements of the University Scholars Programme (USP) and Yale-NUS College, NUS College will feature a unique educational experience built upon an innovative curriculum, global exposure, residential learning, and a supportive, inclusive community. The name, NUS College, was selected after consultation with multiple stakeholders, including industry leaders and employers, board members, counsellors, parents, faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The name encapsulates the essence of a broad-based interdisciplinary programme set within a larger comprehensive university with access to the diverse academic pathways as well as deep resources and expertise of NUS.

Consultation on the naming of the college was carried out through close to 20 focus group sessions and in-depth interviews, led by a global independent research agency, throughout October 2021. Individuals who participated in these sessions and interviews included students, faculty, staff and alumni from USP and Yale-NUS, prospective local and international students, parents, industry partners and employers, and counsellors from junior colleges and polytechnics in Singapore. Further consultations took place with the leadership of USP and Yale-NUS (including members of its Governing Board), as well as town hall presentations to USP and Yale-NUS students, and the NUS Board of Trustees.

NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua, Chair of the NUS College Planning Committee said, “We are pleased that the development of NUS College is on track and progressing well. The Planning Committee and its many working groups benefitted from the intense and rigorous discussions and debates. I would like to thank everyone who has given their time and creative energies to this important work.”

NUS College will admit its first intake of up to 400 students in Academic Year 2022/23 and be open to students applying for almost all undergraduate degree programmes at NUS (for the present time, this includes pathways to 50 majors – from Humanities and Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Business, Computer Science to Law). Residential living and learning on campus will be integral to the NUS College experience, and students will also have full access to distinctive local and global programmes offered at the University.

The University remains committed to its ‘needs-blind’ admission policy – no deserving student will be denied the opportunity to study at NUS College because of financial difficulties. A suite of financial aid and scholarship programmes will be made available to students with financial concerns. These schemes, such as bursaries, loans, scholarships and work-study opportunities, can help meet a portion of their educational and residential living expenses, as well as offer access to global education programmes.

Please refer to Annex A for a brief biography of Professor Simon Chesterman, and Annex B for more information about NUS College.