Class of 1985 raises a record $3 million for NTU
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of their graduation this year, NTU’s Class of 1985 has raised more than $3 million for their Class of ‘85 Pioneer Fund – well above their initial target of $2.5 million. This is the first time that an alumni class has come together with their friends to raise money for NTU to create an endowment fund. In fact, it is the largest sum that a class has ever raised in conjunction with their class reunion. The record-breaking feat is particularly meaningful as it coincides with NTU’s 55th Anniversary celebrations this year. It also represents an exemplary effort for the other alumni classes of NTU.
Created in 2005 to celebrate their homecoming, the Class of ‘85 Pioneer Fund supports bursaries to aid financially disadvantaged students, as well as scholarships and cash awards to encourage academic excellence. The fund was the first class fund of its kind for NTU. At its steady state, this inaugural NTU class endowment fund supports up to 23 NTU students each financial year. To date, a total of 27 awards, comprising 8 bursaries, 7 scholarships, and 12 cash prizes have already been disbursed and another 10 awards are slated to be given out this financial year.
The fund is the brainchild of a group of alumni that includes two Members of Parliament – Mr. Inderjit Singh and Er. Lee Bee Wah. Being the pioneer batch of the then-Nanyang Technological Institute, the class felt that they needed to recreate an affiliation with the university, and this reunion and fundraising effort aims to rekindle that affiliation and their pioneering spirit. In addition to Mr Singh and Er. Lee, some of the other Class of ’85 donors are Mr Chang Long Jong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of MediaCorp and Ms Florence Tan Sok Bee, Director of CAD-IT Consultants.
Commenting on the Class of ’85’s goal of $2.5 million, Mr Singh said, “As pioneers, we wanted to set an example and create a new tradition of giving as a class, and we felt the amount to be contributed back should be significant enough. We chose $2.5 million because we planned in 2005 to close the fund during our 25th anniversary in 2010 and $2.5 million would be a nice match for the 25 years. $250,000 would not be significant enough and $25 million would have been too ambitious a goal to set. $2.5 million was significant, it was not so easy to raise, but was something with which we can do meaningful things by supporting a good number of students. It was also chosen as a realistic target for a 5-year effort, and one which I, as the person in charge of the fund raising, was willing to commit to.”
Fellow alumna, Er. Lee Bee Wah said, “I feel that it is through education that my family managed to get out of poverty. Hence, upon graduation, I have been raising funds for bursaries to help needy students in the NTU School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The purpose of establishing this Pioneer Fund is also to set a good example for our subsequent batches of NTU graduates. We hope they will carry on the torch and give back to the university in the future.”
Entrepreneur Sonny Bensily, a Class of ’85 donor and fundraiser added, “I consider myself a ‘filial son’ of NTU, so I think giving back to my alma mater is the dutiful thing to do. Giving is only considered giving if it hurts. $55,000 is a lot of money to me, but I think it worth the while to help deserving undergraduates who need financial help. I have never given out so much money before and it’s definitely a good feeling to be able to help.”
Thanking the alumni class for their historic fund-raising efforts, NTU President Dr Su Guaning said, “The Class of 85’s generosity has helped to ensure that deserving students receive a quality education, regardless of their financial status. We hope this will inspire more graduate classes to follow suit, sparking off a meaningful tradition that forms the cornerstone of NTU’s culture of giving.
“This year, our graduating Class of 2010 did just that, by setting a record-breaking 71% participation for its graduating class gift, up from the 46% contribution the previous year. These instances of our students and alumni putting their community needs before their self interests are truly inspiring. Their unwavering commitment to the University is a strong affirmation of the belief in what NTU has achieved and what it aspires to accomplish.”
One undergraduate who has benefited from the Pioneer Fund is Ms Ang Hui Ying, a third-year student from the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. Ms Ang, who was awarded the NTU Class of 1985 Bursary said, "Getting the bursary was a huge relief and encouragement for me. It took care of my tuition fees and hostel fees, and allowed me to concentrate more on my studies. I am inspired that the Class of 85 is giving back so generously to NTU, even though they have already graduated. When I graduate, I hope to work as a researcher, make the best of all that I've learnt at NTU, and be able to give back to my alma mater."
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Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Publicity, Media & Account Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687
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