Speech by Professor Pericles Lewis, President, Yale-NUS College
at the Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony with Banco Santander and Yale-NUS College
18 August 2013 at Multipurpose Hall, Yale-NUS College
Mr Emilio Botin-Sanz, Executive Chairman of Banco Santander
Mr Juan Rodriguez Inciarte, Board Director, GM Strategy and Asia Pacific Division
Mr Juan M. San Roman, CEO, Asia Pacific Division
Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, President of the National University of Singapore
Representatives from Santander and Santander Universities
Colleagues and students of Yale-NUS College
I would like to start by expressing our appreciation to everyone here for joining us as Yale-NUS College marks our new partnership with Banco Santander. With this generous gift, Santander becomes the first bank to support our College as a founding benefactor. We are very grateful for the forthcoming support from the community since the founding of Yale-NUS College. These generous gifts, from individuals, foundations and corporations, have enabled the College to admit the best and brightest students from all over the world, without regard to their financial means and to build our academic programs.
Santander has had a long-standing commitment to be a guardian of knowledge and to support higher education around the world. Santander’s US$800,000 gift to Yale-NUS is a significant contribution towards our mission to reinvent liberal arts for an increasingly complex and interconnected world. At Yale-NUS, we are offering a broad liberal arts education, which provides an alternative to the more specialised and technical education common in much of Asia. Our curriculum and pedagogy, built from scratch by the inaugural faculty, seeks to draw on the strengths of established liberal arts traditions, while introducing our students to the diverse intellectual traditions and cultures of Asia and the world. Our inaugural student body includes students from 26 countries on six continents. Over a quarter of them spent a year or more outside of their birth country in places like Myanmar, France, Spain, Belgium, Turkey, Japan, and Swaziland. Some have lived outside of their birth country for five years or more. The diversity of experiences and backgrounds has created a pulsing and vibrant Yale-NUS community, one where conversations and exchanges of views continue beyond the classrooms, and where students have gamely participated in new activities from dragon-boating to K-pop performances.
At Yale-NUS College’s recent inauguration ceremony, I spoke about how we have embarked on our own odyssey – our journey of discovery to build a new community of learning here in Singapore. As an integral part of the experiences and life skills we hope to impart to our students on this journey of discovery, we actively provide opportunities for our students to study abroad or take on overseas internships. We aim to continually expand our students’ sense of global citizenship through the study abroad exchange programmes and milestone learning sessions such as “Learning Across Boundaries” which will take place during the mid-semester break. At the end of this month, all our students will be learning outside the classrooms, choosing from an array of local and regional options designed to reinforce the importance and relevance of each Common Curriculum module by exploring intersecting themes in their broader contexts. Some will get to cross geographical boundaries as they travel to Banda Aceh, Central Java, and Greece as part of this “Learning Across Boundaries” programme. We strongly believe that knowledge and understanding of an increasingly interconnected world will help our students become responsible and successful leaders in their future careers, regardless of the fields they may choose. We will be able to offer more of such international opportunities to our students as a result of the generosity of benefactors such as Santander.
Santander’s gift will contribute towards two programmes – the Santander Scholarship and the Santander International Experience Scholarship. The Santander Scholarship is a merit-based award, given to five students and the Santander International Experience Program will support international programmes, particularly in Latin America and Spain, for approximately 100 Yale-NUS students over the next five years. Both Latin America and Asia share a growing presence on the world stage, and it is important that Yale-NUS continues to forge links between our students and the region. Santander’s generous gift will open doors for our students to study Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro, learn astrophysics in Santiago, among many other wonderful opportunities. We hope to build upon these foundations as more and more of our students benefit from Santander’s strong network in Latin America and Spain. Indeed, Santander’s gift is a boost to our mission to reinvent existing models of liberal arts and science education.
We, at Yale-NUS College, are deeply grateful to Santander’s generous gift and we look forward to our continued partnership in educating leaders of tomorrow for the world.