28 July 2020: Elm Residential College welcomes Assoc Prof Lynette Chua as its third Rector

By Ethel Pang

Image provided by Associate Professor of Social Sciences (Socio-legal Studies; Law & Society) Lynette Chua.

As the College readies itself to begin the next Academic Year (AY) 2020/2021, one of its faculty members will also assume the role of Rector of Elm Residential College.

On 1 July 2020, Associate Professor of Social Sciences (Socio-legal Studies; Law & Society) Lynette Chua was appointed Rector of Elm College. She takes over the mantle from Associate Professor of Humanities (Philosophy) Amber Carpenter, who served the Elm community as Rector for two years.

Residential living is a cornerstone of the Yale-NUS experience. During all four years of their undergraduate studies, students live on campus in one of the three residential colleges (RCs). The role of the Rector is to grow the social, cultural, and intellectual life and character of the RC, and plan activities and events to support this.

Assoc Prof Chua is a law and society scholar with research interests in legal mobilisation, legal consciousness, rights, and social movements. She is also the Head of Studies for the Double Degree Programme in Law & Liberal Arts (DDP) and holds a joint appointment at the National University of Singapore’s Law faculty.

Since joining the College in 2019, most of her interactions with the student community have been with her DDP students.

She said, “Other than attending to administrative duties, I provide a listening ear when they come to me to share their personal or academic struggles. In many ways, I really enjoyed being able to relate to these experiences and advising them on their studies, as someone who also graduated from the same school (NUS Faculty of Law) years ago.”

Admittedly, she shared that she had not been as involved in the College as she would have liked. “Since I hold a joint appointment at the Law faculty, I found myself having to divide my time between two campuses,” she said.

However, this was precisely why Assoc Prof Chua decided to apply for the role of Rector. She very much enjoys teaching modules on research methods at Yale-NUS; being an interdisciplinary scholar, she found that her interests were a good fit for the College. Realising that she wanted to involve herself more deeply on campus, she decided to apply for the position of Elm Rector.

When asked what she was most looking forward to in her new role, she said she eagerly anticipates having more opportunities for interactions with students and meeting the incoming batch of Elm first-year students.

Although life on campus will look a little different in the upcoming semester due to the COVID-19 safe distancing measures being put in place, she is still determined to give a proper welcome to new as well as returning students.

With her Rector’s Teas – talks by visiting speakers which are hosted by Rectors – Assoc Prof Chua intends to bring in speakers who can give a unique perspective on the socio-legal context of Singapore. She hopes to stimulate discussions on topics like: “How does the legal legacy of colonialism have an impact on social issues like ethnicity and race in Singapore?” and “What are some different perspectives on issues like the death penalty?”

She added, “I really want to convey to the Elm community the importance of understanding the environment around us. The Elm Residential College and Yale-NUS communities are not isolated ones; we are all embedded within the larger Singaporean society.”

On Assoc Prof Chua’s plans to engage the residents of Elm Residential College, her predecessor Assoc Prof Carpenter expressed her confidence that the Elm community will “meet [Assoc Prof Chua] more than halfway in this”.

Assoc Prof Carpenter added, “Elm Residential College has developed an extraordinary college spirit, and I am very pleased to be able to hand the torch on to someone who will bring so much intelligence, energy, and wise leadership to Elm Residential College.”