Yale dean named Pillay Visiting Professor at Yale-NUS College

Peter Crane, the Carl W. Knobloch Jr. Dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, has been named the first J.Y. Pillay Distinguished Visiting Professor at Yale-NUS College, the landmark collaboration between Yale University and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Peter Crane
Peter Crane

Crane’s new post is one of several initiatives at Yale-NUS honoring renowned policymaker and corporate leader, Professor J.Y. Pillay. These include the establishment of two distinguished professorships, a fellowship and bursary at the Yale-NUS College, and a research center at the NUS Global Asia Institute (NUS-GAI).

“I am very honored to have been named the first J.Y. Pillay Distinguished Visiting Professor at Yale-NUS College,” said Crane. “I see this as an ideal opportunity to contribute to the further development of Yale-NUS College, while also building on the already strong connections that exist between the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at Yale and the expanding environmental programs at NUS.

“I think that the most important thing that I can do,” he added, “is to further strengthen our already strong connections and collaborations, because ultimately greater collaboration between these two great universities will help ensure that our students are well prepared to respond to the challenges and opportunities of environmental management in the coming century.”

Crane is known internationally for his work on the diversity of plant life — its origins, fossil history, current status, conservation, and use. At a lecture held at NUS on Jan. 17, Crane delivered a speech titled “The Future of Plants: Conservation and Use in the Twenty First Century,” in which he discussed the current status of plant diversity and explored the challenges of conserving and managing plants in sustainable ways for human benefit.

The new initiatives honoring Pillay were made possible through gifts, amounting to S$12.9 million, from a group of donors comprising corporations and private individuals, and led by Singapore Airlines and Singapore Exchange. A total of S$11.9 million will go towards supporting new initiatives at Yale-NUS and S$1 million will support the new research center at NUS-GAI. With the government’s matching grant, these initiatives will be supported with a total funding of up to S$49.6 million.

NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan described Pillay as “a remarkable Singapore pioneer who will serve as a role model for our students now and those to come.” Pillay, who was recently appointed as rector of the third and latest residential college at NUS University Town, is perhaps best known for his role in transforming national carrier Singapore Airlines from a company with a modest fleet of 12 aircraft into a world-class enterprise. His career includes appointments as permanent secretary of various key ministries, including finance, defense, and national development. His leadership role also extended to Singapore Exchange, where he became its founding chair in 1999.

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