Speech by President Halimah Yacob at the Welcome Lunch for NUS Chancellor

NUS Pro-Chancellors Mr Po’ad Mattar and Mr Chan Sek Keong

Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, NUS Chairman

Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon, and thank you for the warm welcome.

I am honoured to be the 10th NUS Chancellor. This is a role imbued with great history and meaning.

As an alumna of the NUS Faculty of Law, I relish the opportunity to return to my alma mater. The campus grounds have, of course, changed over the years. The University has also undergone dramatic transformation over the years to become a leading university widely respected in Singapore and around the world today. But the heart of it all, the University’s ethos of service, has remained unchanged.

In my several sojourns back to NUS – as a Trustee from 2006 to 2011, and most recently as an Honorary Graduate in 2016 – I have seen how the University’s strong tradition of giving back to the community remains central and integral to its education philosophy. This is a fitting link back to the institution’s roots as a university established by the community and for the community.

Apart from offering quality education, NUS has developed a core focus on developing its students so that they become active contributors to society. I am glad that so many of our students as well as faculty have initiated and sustained a variety of programmes and activities to serve society. Whether it is the “Public Health Service”, where students from various medical and health-related faculties apply their skills to help the elderly, or the pro bono work by Law students in helping disadvantaged groups in our society, many of these programmes give renewed sense of purpose to what these students have learnt in their training.

The University is also making huge strides in research. NUS is now highly regarded as a global research powerhouse. Many of the university’s research findings are also translated into new insights and inventions to help improve the world we live in.

Innovation and entrepreneurship remain important cornerstones to Singapore’s continued success in the future. I am therefore happy to learn that NUS has a vibrant start-up and entrepreneurial culture among its students and faculty members. Even more encouraging is the fact that many of these start-ups are in the social entrepreneurship space, deploying innovation to bring about positive change in communities. I commend the Social Venture Lab@NUS for promoting and incubating some of these innovation-based social ventures, and helping them generate sustainable and scalable impact.

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed an honour for me to serve as the Chancellor of my alma mater.  Education is a social leveller. Educational institutions such as NUS have a role to play in helping students reach their fullest potential in life, and I am happy to be able to be a part of this mission. What is even more meaningful for me is that the University also continues to have a strong tradition of service. This calling to serve resonates deeply with me. I am a firm believer that a life lived meaningfully is the most fulfilling. I am therefore heartened to see this core value growing and pulsating strongly within the NUS community.

As NUS Chancellor, I look forward to working together with you, to make our society an even better one for the future.

Thank you.