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​NTU Singapore’s Class of 1985 starts endowment fund for needy students in memory of late Emeritus Professor Chen Charng Ning

Published on: 30-Dec-2020

Santarli Construction Pte Ltd donates S$1 million in seed funding

The Class of 1985 at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has set up an endowment fund with a target of S$2 million to support engineering students from underprivileged families. 

Named in honour of the late Emeritus Professor Chen Charng Ning, NTU’s former Deputy President and founding Dean of the School of Civil and Structural Engineering who passed away in 2019, the fund will support scholarships worth up to $15,000, and bursaries of up to $10,000 annually. The number of scholarships and bursaries awarded each year will depend on the funding raised and income from the endowment fund.

Led by former Members of Parliament, Er Dr Lee Bee Wah and Mr Inderjit Singh Dhaliwal, the Class of 1985 had decided to set up the new fund to commemorate its 35th year of graduation from NTU this year. 

Santarli Construction Pte Ltd is the first company to give S$1 million funding to seed the endowment. The late Prof Chen was Chairman of Santarli Holdings Pte Ltd from 2001 to 2019.

An event was held at NTU today to mark the endowment, attended by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat and Mrs Chen Charng Ning, the widow of Professor Chen. 

Professor Ling San, Deputy President and Provost of NTU Singapore, said, "This fundraising drive for the Prof Chen Charng Ning Endowment Fund initiated by the Class of 1985 is a moving tribute to commemorate Prof Chen’s life. Prof Chen is an exemplary figure who inspires the type of giving spirit the University hopes to instil in our students and alumni."

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah said, “Prof Chen was an inspiring educator and highly respected in the construction industry, not just in Singapore, but in the region and beyond. An excellent teacher, many of his students are doing very well in the industry, and we owe it to him for imparting his knowledge to us. Prof Chen's teachings and the memories he gave us have left a profound impact on our lives. We feel that the most meaningful way to honour him would be to set up the Prof Chen Charng Ning Endowment Fund, to award scholarships and bursaries to NTU undergraduates.”

The new endowment fund is the second fund set up by the Class of 1985. Its first was the NTU Class of ’85 Pioneer Fund, which was set up in 2010 in conjunction with their 25th anniversary class reunion. The Pioneer Fund raised more than $3 million – well above its initial target of $2.5 million – to support NTU's engineering students. 

New fund in honour of respected academic

A passionate educator and widely respected academic, the late Prof Chen was founding Dean of NTU’s School of Civil and Structural Engineering, one of then-Nanyang Technological Institute’s three pioneer engineering schools from 1981 to 1996. Prof Chen taught and conducted research on coastal engineering, water resources engineering, urban hydrology & floodplain analysis, Low Impact Development (LID), stream corridor restoration, and integrated flood risk simulation and management modelling. As Dean, Prof Chen oversaw the School’s academic and administrative matters, including the development of the School’s curriculum, and hiring of faculty and staff.

Between 1991 and 2000, he held the position of Deputy President at NTU, where he was responsible for coordinating the offices of Development and Planning, Estate Management, Professional Attachment, the Innovation Centre and Centre for Continuing Education.

Over the years, Prof Chen served on the boards of various academic institutions and statutory boards in Singapore, including as the founding chairman of the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore from 1999 to 2001. As BCA Chairman, he oversaw the agency’s work to transform the construction industry and streamline building regulations. He also made significant contributions in the area of coastal adaptation, as one of the early advisors to the government in coastal engineering. He received the Public Administration Medal (Silver) at the 1990 National Day Awards for his contributions to the nation. 

Prof Chen, who had more than 40 years’ experience in water resources, environmental engineering and project management, was also a global citizen who left his mark on various international projects. 

For example, he was appointed by the World Bank to work on significant projects, such as the construction of flood warning system for the Flood and Watershed Management Project in China, the assessment of the system and priority gaps for the Natural Disaster Resilience and Adaptation Programme (NDRAP) in Vietnam, and evaluating the feasibility of various flood protection and drainage, channel erosion protection, and irrigation projects for communities in Laos.   

In 2001, Prof Chen became the first faculty member of NTU Singapore to be conferred the title of Emeritus Professor, the University’s highest accolade, for his distinguished service in academia, education and public service. 

Today, Prof Chen is regarded as one of NTU’s pioneers who laid the foundation for the University's strengths and success. Its School of Civil and Environmental Engineering is ranked 12th internationally in this year's QS World University Rankings by Subject. 

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Media contact:

Feisal Abdul Rahman 
Senior Assistant Director 
Corporate Communications Office 
Nanyang Technological University
Email: feisalar(at)

About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and Graduate colleges. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, established jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).
Ranked amongst the world’s top universities by QS, NTU has also been named the world’s top young university for the past seven years. The University’s main campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world and has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) buildings, of which 95% are certified Green Mark Platinum. Apart from its main campus, NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s healthcare district.
Under the NTU Smart Campus vision, the University harnesses the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources.
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