A Fireside Chat with NUS President - Can the Future be Shaped?

About 80 NUS Society (NUSS) members and guests had an enlightening evening at the Fireside Chat with NUS President titled “Can the Future Be Shaped?”, held at NUSS’ Della & Seng Gee Guild Hall on 20 May 2022. NUSS President Mr Edward Tay (Law ‘92) gave an Opening Address to welcome NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye (Science ‘85), highlighting NUSS’ passion about the interests and development of NUS, including its fundraising efforts towards the Alumni Bursary Fund. Mr Tay also thanked Prof Tan for agreeing to engage the audience on the future of Higher Education, a topic that resonated with those in attendance for the fireside chat, which ranged from students from NUS High School of Math and Science and Hwa Chong Institution, to NUSS management committee members such as Mr Soh Yi Da (Arts and Social Sciences ’14), who was also the moderator for the evening.

In a frank and open discourse, Prof Tan explained the importance of promoting multiple competencies among students through the option of pursuing two majors. Interdisciplinarity or the integration of two disciplines would give students opportunities to leverage on different approaches to solve complex real-life problems. The set-up of the two new colleges – College of Humanities and Science, a collaboration between the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Faculty of Science; and College of Design and Engineering, a merger of the School of Design and Environment with the Faculty of Engineering, were two initiatives which the University has embarked on to promote interdisciplinarity. Prof Tan also highlighted that with a lot of skills and knowledge becoming obsolete, being equipped with a degree is not sufficient for graduates who may need to change jobs many times in the course of their work life spanning between 40 and 50 years. Hence, there is a need for graduates to continuously acquire new knowledge and skill sets in order to stay relevant in the face of rapid changes. The challenge for the University is to imbue the importance of continuing education and to offer opportunities for graduates to upgrade themselves.

Submitted by Ms Teo Kuan Yee (Arts and Social Sciences ’94).
NUS Alumni Melbourne Chapter – Dinner at Yarra Botanica
In line with the lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, NUS Alumni Melbourne Chapter organised a cosy meet-up with Mr Bernard Toh (Architecture ’84), Director of the Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) at the Yarra Botanica, which is located in the heart of Southbank. Chapter Chairperson Dr Edna Yeo (Science ’93) introduced Mr Toh, welcoming him to the city after more than two years of restricted international travel.

18 alumni attended the meet-up, each sharing personal stories after what could be considered the hardest lockdown in Melbourne. Mr Toh engaged in interesting and thought-provoking conversations with both new and longstanding members of the Chapter. He highlighted the importance of engagement, recounting his experience in the Singapore Air Force where he first met Mr Richard Seet (Engineering ‘86} and Dr Edna Yeo (Science ‘93). He also emphasised the importance of education and literacy to engage people in active debates. Alumni like Mr Philip Chan (Computing ’94) and Ms Leanne Lim (Arts and Social Sciences ‘13), who are also part of the Singapore Global Network, chimed in with their wishes to see positive changes in future generations. Attendees also shared the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace and its impact on families juggling with working from home, while home schooling their children. Ms Pit Li Chew (Design and Engineering ‘89) highlighted her struggle at being unable to commute back regularly to Singapore for work due to border closures. With travel restrictions eased, many looked forward to visiting their loved ones, especially since they were previously limited to video chat calls only.

As the evening progressed amid the beautiful setting of the Yarra River, the lovely conversations transited into feasting on cheese platters, wood-fired pizzas, buffalo wings and hot chips with beverages from the bar. The long-awaited gathering drew many smiles, cheers and laughter from attendees. On behalf of the Chapter, Dr Yeo presented tokens of appreciation to Mr Toh and OAR for the continual support given in sponsoring this event. Lastly, Dr Yeo distributed thoughtful AlumNUS face masks from OAR to members, before the day concluded.

Here are some comments made about the event by alumni who attended: “Lovely to meet everyone!” – Ms Pit LI Chew (Design and Engineering ’89)

“Such a wonderful night and lovely fellowship” – Ms Violet Fan (Business ’89)

“Thanks Edna! Great to meet Bernard and so many alumni for the first time today!” – Mr Kwong Li-Lin (Arts and Social Sciences ‘96)

“Thanks for having me too! Despite only being on vacation. Hope to see you guys more often once I move back to Melbourne permanently!” – Ms Micki Goh (Nursing ’11)

“Thanks Edna for organizing this lovely informal session. Great to meet Bernard and new friends.” – Mr Philip Chan (Computing ’94)

Submitted by Dr Cecilia Xiao (Science ‘10).
NUS Society’s Honorary Membership Conferment cum Sub-Committee Appreciation Dinner

On 11 April 2022, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye (Science ’85) was conferred the NUS Society (NUSS) Honorary Membership, in recognition of his years of distinguished service to the University and the nation. The event was held at Della & Seng Gee Guild Hall in Kent Ridge Guild House. The NUSS Honorary Membership is the highest accolade that the graduate club confers on individuals distinguished in public life, or by service to NUS or NUSS. Prof Tan joins the ranks of his predecessors, Professor Lim Pin (Affiliate Alumnus ‘19), Professor Shih Choon Fong and Professor Tan Chorh Chuan (Medicine ‘83). Other Honorary Members include Singapore’s late Minister Mentor, Mr Lee Kuan Yew (‘41), former President Dr Tony Tan (Science ’62), Singapore’s former President, the late Mr SR Nathan (Arts ’54), former Prime Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong (Arts ’64), and current Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong.

Prof Tan was appointed as NUS President since January 2018. He is the University’s fifth president, and the 23rd leader to head Singapore’s oldest institute of higher education. He holds a first class Honours degree in Mathematics from NUS, and a PhD from Yale University. A pioneering architect of the current academic system in NUS, Prof Tan is a passionate and award-winning educator who has seeded many initiatives such as the Special Programme in Science, the University Scholars Programme, University Town Residential College Programme, Grade-free Year, and Technology-enhanced Education.

“Prof Tan is a good friend of NUSS, recognising the club as a significant entity within the NUSS alumni family. He has always been supportive of the Society’s events and collaboration such as the annual NUSS Mentorship programmes which is into its eighth run, where we pair NUS undergraduates with NUSS mentors,” said NUSS Vice-President Mr Tong Hsien-Hui (Engineering ’98). “NUSS is proud and privileged to present Prof Tan with the NUSS Honorary Membership, a symbol of our warm friendship, appreciation for his support for NUSS, and in recognition for his inspiring leadership and contributions to the University community and Singapore,” he added.

NUSS also held its Sub-Committee Appreciation Dinner on the same evening, after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19. In his opening address, NUSS President Mr Edward Tay (Law ’92) highlighted NUSS’ intention to organise a series of fund-raising events, beginning with a Charity Golf Tournament by the NUSS Golf Section to raise funds towards the NUSS Bursary, a new endowed bursary. Mr Tay also thanked the Sub-Committee members for their continued dedication and contribution to NUSS. The night ended with Long Service Awards presented to members who served in Sub-Committees for five years or more, in recognition of their dedication and time spent with NUSS.

Submitted by Ms Teo Kuan Yee (Arts and Social Sciences ’94). 
Masterclass by LKYSPP Alumni Singapore Chapter

Negotiation happens in every aspect of our lives – from the workplace, between businesses and even amongst friends and family. Often, the outcome of a negotiation can affect the relationships between people. Identifying this need from alumni to upgrade their negotiation skills, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) Alumni Singapore Chapter organised a Masterclass titled Negotiating towards Success, held in the Bukit Timah Campus on 9 April 2022. Associate Professor Francesco Mancini, the School’s Vice Dean (Executive Education) and Associate Professor in Practice conducted the class, which saw participation from 18 alumni. Attendees comprised eight cohorts and five nationalities – learning in a diverse environment that LKYSPP was known for; alumni relished their time back on campus.

Submitted by Ms Sun Peiyi (Public Policy ’22).

College of Design and Engineering - Alumni Chat with the Dean

NUS College of Design and Engineering (CDE) held its first Alumni Chat with the Dean on 8 April 2022. About 60 alumni took time off from their busy schedules to join the panel discussion via Zoom, discussing how CDE, as a new college, could better engage with alumni. The Dean shared the aspirations of CDE: to build a new community, to unite diverse minds and talents, to foster interdisciplinary spirit, and to innovate design and engineering – which resonated with attendees gathered that evening. Beyond generic one-time engagement, alumni also raised that more opportunities should be created and made known for them to connect with their alma mater in more meaningful ways. They urged the College to consider more structured forms of engagement which can bring value to alumni, via collaborations or channels to support alumni businesses, or assist in their professional development. This could be done through student-alumni joint projects where alumni tap on CDE’s research talents, or even in unique ways such as sharing "passion projects". CDE hopes to continue working closely with key alumni partners, as the alumni base is an integral part of the extended CDE community.  

Submitted by Ms Ellen Poh.

Kent Ridge Hall Class Ambassadors Investiture 2022
On 24 March, Kent Ridge Hall held the Class Ambassadors Investiture 2022. The ceremony reflects the values of engagement and connection that the Hall recognised in the award recipients. Kent Ridge Hall is pleased to appoint Mr Sing Hui, a Year 4 Civil Engineering student and Mr Alvianto Pang, a Year 4 Economics student as this year’s Class Ambassadors. Donning the mantle of leadership and responsibility as Kent Ridgeans, the newly-appointed Class Ambassadors pledged their utmost dedication to function as a bridge between alumni and current Kent Ridgeans.

The event was also graced by Mr Jaffer Sidek, who was a former Kent Ridge KRockers in the 1980s. His presence rekindled the students’ identity with Kent Ridge Hall. The ceremony ended with an inspiring speech by Hall Master, Associate Professor Kua Harn Wei (Science ‘96), which further stirred the hearts of Kent Ridgeans.

Submitted by Dr Rosalind Siah (Medicine ’16).
College of Design and Engineering Class Ambassador Investiture 2022

NUS College of Design and Engineering (CDE) held its first physical Class Investiture to welcome the batch of newly-appointed Class Ambassadors! Class Ambassadors are a cadre of outstanding and charismatic individuals nominated to facilitate the continual engagement of their classes with the university upon graduation. They work hard in building a strong alumni network through organising networking events with fellow graduates, as well as providing updates to their respective classes on NUS events and happenings. The event was graced by Associate Professor Kua Harn Wei (Science ‘96), who conferred the certificates to this new batch of Class Ambassadors.

Submitted by Ms Ellen Poh.

NUS Alumni Toronto Chapter's Spring Equinox Dinner

On 19 March 2022, over 30 alumni and their spouses met at the Lion City Restaurant in Mississauga, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. With pandemic-related restrictions slowly easing, the Toronto Chapter made a decision to gather on the weekend which coincided with the Spring Equinox. Lion City Restaurant is a unique place in the Greater Toronto Area as it serves amazing Singaporean food. The restaurant also held wonderful memories for the Chapter pre-pandemic, as they held their last major event – the Chinese New Year lunch in early 2020 – in the same location.

Attendees of the dinner were treated to mouth-watering delights such as ngoh hiang, fish tofu cabbage soup, deep fried Fish with chinchalok, nonya chicken curry, okra and eggplant belachan, sambal prawns petai, steamed jasmine rice, and bubur cha cha. As the scrumptious dishes filled the tables, attendees engaged in hearty conversations. Some amusingly wondered if it was possible to finish all the food before the restaurant closed – needless to say, the challenge was dealt with decisively.

Alumni who attended the dinner were ecstatic to meet again after the Chapter’s last gathering in November 2021. As the situation turned for the better, the Chapter hoped to bring back at least three events per year, with a potluck picnic in the pipeline for 2022. The Chapter would also try to organise a networking event, echoing the goodwill of alumni who expressed interest in mentoring and networking. All in all, the dinner was a wonderful evening filled with good food and good company.

Submitted by Mr Tejas Aivalli (Public Policy ’11).

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