News Details | 06-Dec-2011

NTU confers honorary doctorate on S.R. Nathan

Former Singapore President recognised for his lifetime of outstanding leadership

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is conferring an honorary doctorate to former Singapore President and NTU Chancellor, Mr S.R. Nathan at a special ceremony this morning, in recognition of his distinguished achievements and contributions to the university and to Singapore. A seminar themed, “Security in the 21st Century: Opportunities and Challenges” is held in his honour this afternoon, with Mr Nathan delivering the keynote address.

Mr Nathan is the first former Singapore President to receive an honorary doctorate from NTU.  The conferment ceremony today was presided by Singapore President and NTU Chancellor Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, joined by Minister for Education Mr Heng Swee Keat and about 1,200 NTU faculty, staff, students, alumni and guests.  

Throughout his outstanding public career, Mr Nathan has served Singapore with dedication and distinction. Mr Nathan has also given considerable support for the university, enabling it to enhance its standing at the local, regional and global levels.  Mr Nathan will continue his close association with the University as Distinguished Senior Fellow of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

“Few individuals define the term 'visionary leader and statesman' as perfectly as Mr S.R. Nathan,” said Professor Bertil Andersson, President of NTU.  “Mr Nathan has made countless contributions and achievements spanning five and a half decades of public service. He also shares an intimate history with NTU, dating back to his time as founding Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies , the predecessor of our globally renowned think-tank, the RSIS.  Throughout his time at the institute and as NTU Chancellor over the last 12 years, Mr Nathan has demonstrated an unyielding devotion to NTU and to Singapore. His vision and continued legacy inspires us all to do more, and we are honoured to have the opportunity to formally recognise his contributions.” 

Mr Nathan was appointed founding Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) when it was established on 30 July 1996 as an autonomous institute in NTU.  As its director, Mr Nathan laid strong foundations for establishing the institute as a professional graduate school of international affairs.  It was later renamed the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) on 1 January 2007 in honour of former Singapore leader, Mr S. Rajaratnam. 

At the IDSS, Mr Nathan had also insisted on research being policy-relevant.  He exhorted faculty and research staff to “ponder the improbable” – a timely encouragement in view of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which was closely followed by the SARS pandemic and its impact on global economies in 2003.  His international outlook and his foreign policy background led to an emphasis on networking, which has contributed to knowledge sharing between RSIS and think tanks from all over the world, and to RSIS’ standing as a critical node in the international network of think tanks and academic institutions dealing with strategic and security studies.

As President of Singapore from September 1999 to August 2011, Mr Nathan served as Chancellor of NTU and he was closely associated with the growth and development of the university.

As Chancellor, Mr Nathan held an intense interest in NTU and he played a key role in the recruitment of key personnel, establishment of major research institutes such as the Earth Observatory of Singapore and the Institute of Catastrophe Risk Management.  Mr Nathan also contributed to the development of links between NTU and key international institutions and personalities such as the former President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam.
Mr Nathan also extended his strong support to the university’s initiatives and student activities. “He has always been very generous with his time for NTU and made it a point to get to know the students and faculty well. As a most approachable and people-friendly president, he served as a wonderful role model for our graduates and inspired many with his dedication and integrity,” Professor Andersson added.

Mr Nathan was the patron of various University fundraising efforts. He played an instrumental role in raising $150 million for the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and was involved in fundraising campaigns that raised (including Government matching) $200 million for the NTU 21st Century Fund, $30 million for the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information’s Wee Kim Wee Legacy Fund, and $40 million for RSIS’ Endowment Fund. 

The NTU honorary doctorate being conferred on Mr S.R. Nathan is one of higher education’s most significant accolades. The Doctor of Letters degree honoris causa (‘for the sake of honour’) acknowledges the pre-eminence of Mr Nathan and his distinguished achievements spanning five and a half decades of public service, as well as to his selfless commitment and contributions to Singapore, NTU and to the cause of higher learning.

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Media contact:

Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences.  In 2013, NTU will enrol the first batch of students at its new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, which is set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to four world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on 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).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and is setting up a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
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