Yale-NUS College breaks new ground in Singapore and Asia

6 July 2012

Yale-NUS College, Singapore’s first residential liberal arts college, held its groundbreaking ceremony today at the National University of Singapore (NUS). This landmark event was graced by Guest-of-Honour, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore. 200 distinguished guests attended the event, including the Presidents of Yale University and NUS, President Richard Levin and President Tan Chorh Chuan, the Yale-NUS College Governing Board, faculty, students and donors.

Yale-NUS College President Pericles Lewis, who spoke at the groundbreaking, highlighted the significance of the College as an endeavour that will kick start the growth of liberal arts and science education in Asia. “A Yale-NUS education offers a global liberal arts and science curriculum taught through interactive classes and rigorous research projects,” said President Lewis. The President, who took office from 1 July, also remarked that the College will become the cradle of leadership, helping students achieve mental agility and strength of mind.

“As the first liberal arts college in Singapore offering a proactive education through residential living and learning right here in the heart of Asia, we are breaking ground on multiple dimensions.

We aim to offer a distinctive, global education in a community of learning that will encourage active learning and critical thought,” he said.

The Yale-NUS campus architecture will closely parallel the School’s educational mission. Epitomising the collaborative nature of the venture, two world class architects, Singapore’s Forum Architects and Pelli Clarke Pelli in the U.S., have been commissioned to design and build the future campus. Elements such as the syncopated skyline and richness of materials derived from Yale architecture are combined with Asian courtyard landscapes to meld cultures, traditions and styles of Singapore, America, and Southeast Asia, and support living-and-learning experiences between classroom and community.

This residential model creates ‘nested communities’ in the Yale tradition of supporting lifelong learning in liberal arts and science by combining academic, intellectual, social, athletic, and artistic life. There will be three residential colleges, each planned as a “social home” for students and faculty. “I look forward to living and breathing this new model of residential living and learning, and extending interactions beyond the classrooms to create a unified, cohesive Yale-NUS culture,” said President Lewis who will stay on campus with his family.

Delivering a great liberal arts and science education also requires open spaces that provide opportunities for students to explore their interests in the sciences, history, literature, and the arts. To create this environment, Yale-NUS’ campus design will include spaces that reflect the openness, energy and optimism of the College’s curriculum.

The central Campus Green with six heritage trees and an eco-pond will encourage student inquiry and exploration beyond the classroom and promote social interactions and outdoor activities. A total of 30 Sky Gardens will allow students to share a common space in a high-rise ‘neighbourhood’ with a view of the urban skyline, reminiscent of skyscrapers in Asia. With dining commons unique to each residential college, students and faculty will also be able to socialise and extend their conversation beyond the classroom during mealtimes. Each residential college will also feature a “buttery”, a casual lounge space offering light fare or informal food managed by fellow students.

The first batch of Yale-NUS students will commence classes from August 2013. The College will be at NUS’ University Town (UTown) before the new campus officially opens in 2015. Yale-NUS’ location on the same site as NUS UTown is expected to provide opportunities for students at Yale-NUS to interact with the wider NUS community in co-curricular, sports, the arts and other social settings.