Yale and National University of Singapore in Discussion to Set Up Liberal Arts College

Yale President Richard Levin and Provost Peter Salovey write to Yale faculty to sketch the proposal for Yale joining with the National University of Singapore to establish a new liberal arts college in Singapore that would introduce residential colleges and a new curriculum for Asia.

Yale President Richard Levin and Provost Peter Salovey write to Yale faculty to sketch the proposal for Yale joining with the National University of Singapore to establish a new liberal arts college in Singapore that would introduce residential colleges and a new curriculum for Asia.

Yale and National University of Singapore signed on September 10 a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to continue serious study about establishing a new liberal arts college that might become a model for all of Asia. The Minister of Education for Singapore Dr. Ng Eng Hen was present to witness the event.

Yale was invited more than a year ago by the National University of Singapore (NUS) to help design a new liberal arts college on its campus.  In the fall of 2009, three committees of Yale faculty worked to sketch the broad outlines of such an endeavor.  The goal was to conceive a new model of residentially-based liberal education to serve all of Asia and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Yale has now been asked to consider joining with NUS as a full partner to establish “Yale-NUS College” in Singapore, with an intended opening in the fall of 2013. The College would be a highly selective, small, autonomous school within NUS, with approximately 1000 undergraduate students in its early years.  The College would award its degrees through NUS, not Yale.  The College’s separate governing board, half of which would be comprised of Yale appointees, would have authority over curriculum, faculty appointments, and admissions policies. The cost of establishing and operating the College would be borne by NUS and the government of Singapore, at no financial cost to Yale. 

The President and Provost of Yale sent a nine-page “Prospectus” to the faculty on September 12 outlining the vision for the new Yale-NUS College as well as many important policy issues that would be incorporated in the new college in the event the University decides to proceed. The Prospectus invited views from the faculty who have not been involved to date.

President Richard C. Levin said, “It is very exciting to contemplate collaborating with the National University of Singapore to create a new educational model for the 21st century, contextualized especially for Asia. There has never been greater need for undergraduate education that cultivates critical inquiry.

“In a world that is increasingly interconnected, the qualities of mind developed through liberal education are perhaps more indispensable than ever in preparing students to understand and appreciate differences across cultures and national boundaries, and to address problems for which there are no easy solutions.”

Yale Provost Peter Salovey added, “The proposed Yale-NUS College seeks to be a ‘true partnership’ between the two universities. This offers an extraordinary opportunity for Yale to advance its mission in ways that will not detract from or diminish all that we are and can be in New Haven.”

NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan also expressed his enthusiasm for the venture, noting: “Our university’s strong and warm partnership with Yale has resulted in several innovative programs over the last few years. We look forward, with excitement, to further extending our collaborations to an area that is very important for the future, for Singapore and beyond. This MOU with Yale brings us a step closer to making the vision of a liberal arts college in Singapore and at NUS a reality.”

Singapore’s Minister for Education Dr. Ng said, “It is timely to consider introducing liberal arts education in Singapore. Yale is a world-class university and has a strong tradition in liberal arts education. The Government is supportive of NUS’s and Yale’s efforts to develop a liberal arts model that will attract top students, and that is contextualized to Singapore and Asia.”

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Comments About This Proposal

“The great universities of the 21st Century will be those that educate the best minds of both East and West and perhaps even build bridges between these two words. With this exciting and important initiative, Yale has committed itself wholeheartedly to the challenge.”

— Fareed Zakaria, YC ‘86, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” former Managing Editor of “Foreign Affairs,” and Member of Yale Corporation

“The idea of establishing a liberal arts college in Singapore is both timely and forward-thinking. As the longest-serving United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China [from 2001-2009] and a resident of Asia for more than 35 years, I have long seen the need for a new model for undergraduate education, one which provides the broad opportunities for intellectual exploration that are the hallmark of a liberal arts college. Two of my children as well as myself are the beneficiaries of this education model from a leader in the field, Yale College. I can think of no better partner to help introduce the liberal arts model to Asia.”

— Clark T. Randt, Jr., YC ’68, former U.S. Ambassador to China

“As a Yale graduate, I am delighted that Yale is taking this step. NYU Law School’s joint program at NUS has been very successful, and there is a great need for U.S.-style liberal education to transform undergraduate study around the world.”

— Richard Revesz, LAW ’83, Dean of NYU Law School, which has had a Master’s Program in Law with the National University of Singapore since 2007.

“I have been with the United Nations for more than a quarter of a century and now serve as the Dean of the Under-Secretary-Generals. I am confident that the proposed partnership between Yale and the National University of Singapore will be beneficial to both and the new entity will serve as a model for all of Asia. It is a welcome challenge!”

— Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, YC ’61, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations

Selective Joint and Double Degree Programs at NUS with U.S. universities

Joint Degree Programs:
• Duke – NUS Graduate Medical School (4 year program culminating in one degree issued by both Duke and NUS)

Double Degree Programs:
• NYU School of Law (Master of Laws culminating in two degrees, one issued by NYU and one issued by NUS)
• MIT (Master of Engineering and Master of Science in various fields culminating in two degrees)
• Columbia University (Master in Public Policy culminating in two degrees) [note: NUS School of Public Policy also has double degrees with London School of Economics and Sciences Po]

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Media Contact

Tom Conroy: tom.conroy@yale.edu, 203-432-1345