Singapore

SMU president to step down, local varsities renew leadership

Yet another university, Singapore Management University (SMU), is searching globally for a new president.

Earlier this month, SMU board chairman Ho Kwon Ping sent an e-mail to the faculty and staff announcing that current president Arnoud De Meyer, who took charge seven years ago, has asked to step down by the end of next year.

Mr Ho said while the board of trustees would have wanted Professor De Meyer, 63, to continue, the board also fully respects his desire to step down.

At the board's request, Prof De Meyer has agreed to assume, on a part-time basis, a role in continuing to help shape SMU-X, an experiential learning programme where students tackle real-world problems by taking on projects from companies and community organisations.

Mr Ho said SMU-X - Prof De Meyer's brainchild - has gained much traction and become a buzzword for experiential learning and is well on its way to becoming an integral part of SMU's pedagogical DNA.

A search committee comprising several board members will work with a global executive search firm to drive the search for SMU's fifth president.

Earlier this year, The Straits Times reported that the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University and Singapore University of Technology and Design were searching worldwide for new heads to lead them in their next phase of growth.

The leadership renewal comes as Singapore's tertiary institutions, mindful of disruptions in the economy, are revamping curriculum and launching work-study programmes to better prepare their students for work.

A few SMU academics have suggested that Professor Lily Kong, who moved from NUS two years ago to take up the position as provost at SMU, is a strong contender for the post.

Prof Kong, the first woman to be appointed provost of a publicly funded university here, had served in several senior academic positions at NUS, including vice-provost of academic personnel.

Well-known internationally as a social-cultural and urban geographer, she has more than two decades of solid experience as an educator, researcher and senior academic leader.

Mr Ho praised Prof De Meyer's leadership in his e-mail, saying that he had "more than delivered as president, leading SMU through a new phase of growth and excellence in many important ways".

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EducationSingapore Management UniversityMINISTRY OF EDUCATION (MOE)