Yale-NUS College Announces Inaugural President and Leadership Team

The Governing Board of Yale-NUS College announced today the appointment of Yale University’s Professor Pericles Lewis as the inaugural President of Yale-NUS College and the National University of Singapore’s Professor Lai Choy Heng as Executive Vice President (Academic Affairs), with effect from 1 July 2012.

A distinguished scholar of British and European literature and a leader in the field of modernism, Professor Lewis joined the Yale faculty in 1998 and has appointments in the English and Comparative Literature departments. He has played an instrumental role in developing the new college’s academic programs and planning its curriculum, and chaired the committee responsible for recruiting humanities faculty, the governing board said.

At Yale, Professor Lewis has served as director of graduate studies for comparative literature, director of undergraduate studies for the literature major, and chair of the committees on library policy and Yale College majors. He has served on the University’s budget committee and the executive committee of the Whitney Humanities Center. He led searches for the University Librarian and the Librarian of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Madam Kay Kuok, chair of the Yale-NUS governing board, said, “Professor Lewis has demonstrated remarkable leadership in helping to launch the new college this past year.  We were all very impressed by his enormous passion for the new college and his exceptional ability to identify the most important issues and to motivate and work with others to address them.”

“One of the key roles of the inaugural president is to create a dynamic community and energizing environment that will enable the college to pioneer a truly innovative educational program and help realize the promise of this exciting initiative,” said NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan. “Professor Lewis is well-suited for this role. He also brings with him a deep knowledge and understanding of Yale.”

Yale President Richard C. Levin added, “Professor Lewis is a naturally talented academic leader who has demonstrated his capacity for leadership in many important roles at Yale. Most significantly, he has displayed an impressive mastery of the needs of the new college and an infectious enthusiasm that will motivate others to work for its success. ”

Professor Charles Bailyn, the inaugural dean of the Faculty at Yale-NUS College and A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Yale, said, “I am thrilled with this appointment. Professor Lewis is a long-time colleague and I look forward to working with him in his new role in the years to come.”

Professor Lewis earned his undergraduate degree from McGill University and his doctorate from Stanford University in 1997. He is the author of Modernism, Nationalism and Novel (2000), The Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (2007) and Religious Experience and the Modernist Novel (2010). He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to European Modernism (2011) and The Norton Anthology of World Literature, which was published this spring. Professor Lewis has received a variety of academic honors, and awards for his contribution to extra-curricular and intellectual life.

Professor Lewis will be splitting his time during the next academic year between New Haven and Singapore while the planning for the new college advances. He and his family will move to Singapore full-time before the College opens in August 2013.

Joining the Yale-NUS leadership team as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs is Professor Lai Choy Heng. A theoretical physicist, Professor Lai has been Vice Provost for Academic Personnel at NUS since 2003. A member of the NUS faculty since 1980, he was Dean of the Faculty of Science from 2000 to 2003. Since 2007, he has held the concurrent appointment of Deputy Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies, a Research Center of Excellence at NUS Professor Lai received his undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the University of Chicago. He has published over 130 papers in internationally refereed journals. Professor Lai received the Public Administration Medal (Silver) from the Singapore Government (2003), and the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques from the French Government (2002) for his contributions to relations between the two countries within academia.

“Yale-NUS is very fortunate to attract Professor Lai to this important academic position,” said NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan. “Apart from his distinguished record of research and administrative leadership accomplishments, Professor Lai is passionate about liberal arts education and deeply believes in the potential for Yale-NUS College to pioneer a new model for Asia for the future. With his strong personal interest and expertise in Western classical music and Chinese Classics, he brings highly complementary qualities to the Yale-NUS leadership team.”

Earlier this year, Mrs Doris Sohmen-Pao was appointed Executive Vice President for Administration at Yale-NUS. She has held senior positions in both academic and business institutions. Most recently, she was the Director of Human Capital for Bain & Company, Southeast Asia. She has served on the board of trustees of Princeton University, where she received her undergraduate degree. She earned her MBA from Harvard Business School.

NUS’ President Tan said, “Doris brings with her a rare combination of extensive administrative leadership experience and a deep understanding of academia and higher education. It has been a great pleasure working closely with her over the past few months. In particular, her passion for the College, focus, and administrative abilities are most impressive.”

Yale’s President Levin said,”This is an outstanding leadership team which we confidently believe will guide Yale-NUS to success in the years ahead,”

Yale-NUS College, a highly selective liberal arts college developed by Yale and the National University of Singapore, will open in August 2013 in Singapore. The college will welcome an inaugural cohort of 150 students to explore the depth and breadth of both Western and Asian traditions, histories, values and cultures. Prevailing models of residential liberal arts and science education will also be re-imagined for the 21st century with Asia as the context. The campus will eventually be home to 1,000 students and approximately 100 faculty.

One comment

  1. Hi! I’m a Yale undergrad and current intern for the Yale Alumni Magazine. The July/August 2012 issue features a profile on Pericles Lewis that I think would be great to include on your blog! http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2012_07/lv_singapore.html
    and check out the rest of the issue online here:
    http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2012_07/index.html

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