Tan Tai Yong is President-Designate and Professor of Humanities (History) at Yale-NUS College. His presidential term will begin on 1 July 2017. Prior to becoming President-Designate, he served as the College’s Executive Vice President (Academic Affairs) from 2014 to 2017. As Executive Vice President (Academic Affairs), he oversaw the academic and co-curricular aspects of the liberal arts experience at Yale-NUS College, including all faculty matters and academic affairs.
A strong believer in the value of a liberal arts and science education, Professor Tan has been active in shaping the academic programme of the College from the very beginning. He served as the co-chair of the joint Yale and NUS committee that hired the inaugural faculty members in the humanities and helped shape the common curriculum in 2011. In October 2014, he took on the role of Executive Vice President (Academic Affairs) at Yale-NUS, where he worked closely with students, faculty, and staff to enrich the educational experience and enhance the academic programmes at the College. Under his leadership, the Yale-NUS faculty has nearly doubled in size, comprising outstanding teachers who are also respected researchers in their respective fields. Professor Tan also worked with the academic team to strengthen the curriculum, enhance research at the College and improve laboratory and library facilities, and with the student affairs team to further integrate the academic and residential life at the College.
Previously, Professor Tan was the Vice-Provost (Student Life) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) overseeing student matters, University Town and the Residential Colleges, the Centre for English Language and Communication as well as the Office of Student Affairs and the Halls of Residence. Professor Tan also served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences from 2004 – 2009. He was concurrently Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies, an autonomous university-level research institute in NUS.
Professor Tan is honorary chairman of the National Museum of Singapore and board member of the National Archives of Singapore. He is also a member of the governing board of the East Asia Institute, and the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
A graduate of NUS, Professor Tan completed his doctorate at Cambridge University. He has been a faculty member of the NUS Department of History since 1992 and served the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences as Sub-Dean (1994–1999), Head of the History Department (2000–2003), Vice-Dean (2001–2003) and Dean (2004–2009). Professor Tan is currently a member of the editorial boards of Modern Asian Studies, India Review and the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies.
As a recognition for his commitment to teaching, he received the Teaching Excellence Awards in 1992 and 2000. In 2001, Professor Tan was awarded the Moncado Prize for outstanding essay published in the Journal of Military History. He has received a number of fellowship awards, including the Overseas Commonwealth Fellowship, British Academy Visiting Fellowship, the Wolfson College (Cambridge) Fellowship as well as a Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine. He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) at the 2009 National Day Awards.
Professor Tan specialises in South and Southeast Asian History and he has published extensively on the Sikh Diaspora, social and political history of colonial Punjab, de-colonisation and the partition of South Asia, and Singapore history. He has authored and co-authored several books, including From Classical Emporium to World City: Singapore – a 700-Year History (2009); Creating Greater Malaysia: The Politics of Merger (2008); The Garrison State (2005) and The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia (2001).