Professor Joseph Cherian, Director, Centre for Asset Management Research & Investments (CAMRI) at NUS Business School, has worked on Wall Street and at Cornell and Boston universities. Here, he talks about the gift that helped him realise his academic dreams and made him a committed giver. Plus, Prof Cherian shares some financial advice for those considering a gift to NUS.
Tell us about CAMRI and your vision for the Centre.
CAMRI conducts applied research, as well as serves as a learning and training ground for our students in all matters related to the investment management industry. Our vision is to make CAMRI Asia’s leading thought leadership centre in asset management, as well as to have our students manage a ‘live’, student-managed fund with a focus on Asian securities.
You were born in Malaysia and spent many years in the US. What attracted you to NUS?
I wished to return to Asia to be closer to my aged parents, and to give back in whatever time, talent, and experience I had gained over the years to the society that sent me abroad in the first place (back in 1982). NUS provided me with the most perfect environment and the best educational laboratory to do that.
You have set up the Yanfang and Joseph Cherian Bursary at NUS. Why did you choose to set up a bursary?
My wife, Emma (a.k.a. Yanfang), and I wanted to financially help students who most needed the help. We hope that the students, by being able to put financial worries behind them, can continue to excel in whichever discipline they wish to.
Have you ever received financial aid?
Yes, I was a beneficiary of loans and scholarships from MIT and the Kuok Foundation during my undergraduate years at one of the most expensive colleges in the US at that time (1982-86). The Kuok Family’s astounding generosity to aspiring Malaysian students, when such bursaries were fairly scarce, left an indelible mark in my mind.
You give to Cornell and MIT as well. Why do you choose to give to education?
I have benefited tremendously from my education at MIT and Cornell, both professionally and personally – I even met my wife in Ithaca back in 1989. It is hence the least I could do – to give back.
You have set up the Cherian Family Fund. What is its aim?
We wished to emulate Asian charitable organisations such as the Kuok Foundation, which made it possible for many young Malaysians to pursue their educational dreams. While our giving is conducted on a much smaller scale, and primarily to US tax-exempt public charities, we wish to continue on the same path through our Family Fund.
As a US permanent resident, what would you advise fellow Americans who would like to make a gift to NUS?
I would ask them to consult a US tax expert familiar with charitable giving to find out the many ways in which you can make a difference in the life of NUS. You can also get in touch with the NUS Development Office, which can advise you on how to make a gift through the NUS America Foundation*, which may offer some tax benefits as well.
As a financial expert, do you have any words of advice for those considering making a gift to NUS?
There’s a saying that there are only two things that are certain in life – death and taxes. You probably can’t do much about the former, but many countries, including Singapore and the US, provide tax mitigating benefits for being charitable.
What would you say you get out of giving?
I think the donor derives a lot more benefit from giving than the recipient of the gift. My advice to those who haven’t given yet is to give it a try.
[*Editor’s Note: NUS America Foundation, Inc., supports NUS’ global educational and research programmes. It is a nonprofit organisation recognised by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. As such, contributions to the Foundation from US tax residents may be fully tax-deductible to the amount allowed by US law.]
For further information about making a gift to NUS, please contact Ms Ho Yuen Kwan on 6516 5755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org