The National University of Singapore (NUS) has established the Lionel A. Sheridan Professorship at the NUS Faculty of Law to mark the 50th Anniversary of its first graduating class, and honour Professor Sheridan, the Founding Dean of the Faculty. This was announced at a Reunion Dinner held for the Class of ’61, which kickstarted the fundraising campaign for the Professorship.
The Honourable the Chief Justice of the Republic of Singapore, Mr Chan Sek Keong, said, “We, the Class of ‘61, are extremely pleased that the University has agreed to establish a Chair of Law in Sheridan’s name so that his legacy will live on.”
NUS President, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, said, “As the founding Dean of Law, Professor Lionel Astor Sheridan shaped the study and teaching of law in Singapore during the Faculty’s formative years. He taught the first six graduating classes from 1956 to 1962, and left an indelible mark on the University, Faculty and students. The creation of the Chair in honour of Professor Sheridan recognises his contribution to the Faculty of Law, and is a very meaningful way to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Singapore’s pioneer class of lawyers. We are very grateful to the Class of ’61 for this wonderful initiative.”
Professor Sheridan joined the Department of Law in July 1956 as Professor of Law. As the first Head of Department, he was instrumental in planning the curriculum for legal studies, setting up a law library and negotiating for professional recognition of local law graduates. He also actively campaigned for the Department to become a full Faculty.
Professor Lionel Astor Sheridan noted, “Both rejoicing and relief were occasioned in the early years of the Faculty of Law by the decisions by the Governments of the Federation of Malaya and of Singapore that legislation would be introduced to enable graduates of the University of Malaya to practise as advocates and solicitors. It was not expected that all holders of the degree of Bachelor of Laws would wish for a career as members of the legal profession, but members of the Faculty considered it to be of the utmost importance that graduates of the local university should be allowed to qualify to do so. Did one anticipate then that among their number there would be a Chief Justice and other judges, a President of the Law Society, an Ambassador-at-Large and all manner of distinguished persons? Yes, certainly. The expectations entertained by those who lectured, tutored and examined were extremely optimistic.”
The roots of the Faculty of Law lie in the establishment of the Department of Law in 1956 at what was then the University of Malaya. The first law students were admitted to the Bukit Timah campus of the University in 1957. In 1959, the Department attained Faculty status with Professor Sheridan serving as the founding Dean until he stepped down in 1962. The pioneer class of 22 law students graduated on 10 July 1961, and counts among its most illustrious members Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, Professor Tommy Koh (Ambassador-at-Large and former Dean), former Dean Thio Su-Mien and Emeritus Professor Koh Kheng Lian.
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