S R NATHAN PROFESSORSHIP IN SOCIAL WORK (2012)
Former President Mr S R Nathan is a man of the people. In his six decades of service to the nation, from medical social worker to the country’s president, he kept his community consciousness intact.
One of the first eight students to join the Department of Social Work at the University of Malaya (NUS’ predecessor institution) in 1952, his Final Year dissertation laid bare how lodging-house keepers were running a system that amounted to debt enslavement of Asian seamen awaiting their next employment.
These findings led to the setting up of the Seamen’s Registry to regulate the engagement of local seafarers in Singapore. During his Presidency, the President’s Challenge, which raises funds for charities, and the President’s Social Service Award were set up. His empathy for the disadvantaged has its roots in his own youth.
Born in 1924, Mr Nathan lost his father at the age of eight amid financial hardship. He fended for himself from the age of 16 and after World War II, joined the University with the help of a bursary provided by Shell Group of Companies.
Mr Nathan takes pride in his credentials as a social worker. After the ‘Laju ferry hijacking incident’ in 1974, a reporter asked him how he remained so calm and confident during the negotiations. Mr Nathan replied, “Because I am a trained social worker.”
NUS established the S R Nathan Professorship to commemorate Mr Nathan’s commitment to social service. The Professorship will allow the University to bring in renowned academic leaders to advance social education and research among scholars in Singapore and Asia on issues related to social development, poverty, family development and asset building.
The Professorship is supported by gifts from the Tote Board, Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited, Ngee Ann Kongsi, Singapore Press Holdings as well as four other esteemed benefactors. The Professorship was announced on the occasion of the Department’s 60th anniversary.
S S RATNAM PROFESSORSHIP IN OBSTETRICS AND GYNAECOLOGY (2000)
In many ways, Emeritus Professor S S Ratnam put Singapore on the international map in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology. Besides performing Singapore’s first sex-change operation in 1971 and leading the team that produced Asia’s first test-tube baby in 1983, he helped to achieve many other firsts that brought hope to childless couples around the world. These included Asia’s first Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) baby in 1986, Asia’s first live birth from a frozen embryo in 1987, the world’s first live birth after microinjection in 1989, and the world’s first infant born via human ampullary coculture in 1991.
Prof Ratnam was Head of the NUS Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and was responsible for developing a world-class centre for feto-maternal medicine. It was the first in the Asia Pacific region to perform fetal therapy and surgery. He was later the Director of the School of Postgraduate Medical Studies. Bringing together clinicians and scientists, he enabled the Department to offer an outstanding level of service, research and training. He trained a generation of doctors and laid a solid foundation in Assisted Reproductive Technology that others could build and innovate on.
A formidable figure in his field, Prof Ratnam was a giving person, who tried never to say no to people. His mother was his inspiration.
With the support of various donors and organisations that worked with Prof Ratnam and benefited from his expertise, NUS established the S S Ratnam Professorship in Obstetrics and Gynaecology to honour the medical pioneer. The Professorship enables the University to engage eminent professors and experts, who are internationally recognised for their contributions to the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, for periods ranging from three months to a year or more. These renowned academics share their expertise and collaborate with faculty members in research and educational initiatives in areas such as reproductive health, maternal welfare, as well as fertility and infertility.
SAT PAL KHATTAR PROFESSORSHIP IN TAX LAW (2012)
Lawyer and businessman Sat Pal Khattar (’66) says, “Somehow, law took to me; I took to law.” It was a fortuitous union, leading to the establishment of KhattarWong LLP, one of Singapore’s largest law firms, and an illustrious career in law.
Mr Khattar was born in India in 1942. His family suffered in the Partition and moved to Singapore in 1949. Mr Khattar was supposed to run his father’s sports goods business, but he joined the Law Faculty at the University of Singapore (NUS’ predecessor) and took to it “like a fish takes to water”, he says.
He continued to juggle studies and his family business, especially after his father passed away six weeks before his Second Year exams. Despite the challenges,he was called by the Legal Service on the strength of his Final Year grades. “My ego got the better of me”, he says. He handed over the family business to a relative and became Deputy Public Prosecutor before joining the Tax Department. His background in business stood him in good stead and he became one of the youngest ‘superscale’ officers before turning 30. He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) at the National Day Awards in 1972.
A few years later he set up a one-man tax firm, which became KhattarWong. The firm has more than 120 lawyers now.
Mr Khattar, who resigned from the company in 2000 to pursue business interests, received the NTUC Friend of Labour Award in 1979, the Meritorious Service Award in 1987, the Distinguished Service Award in 1994, and the Distinguished Service (Star) Award in 2001.
NUS established the Sat Pal Khattar Professorship in Tax Law in his honour. The Professorship is supported by a generous gift from Mr Khattar. He says, “I am what I am because of my education …” The Professorship is a “good thing because tax is virtually a forgotten specialty”.
SAW SWEE HOCK CENTENNIAL PROFESSORSHIP IN LAW (2013)
Named one of 48 Heroes of Philanthropy by Forbes Asia, Professor Saw Swee Hock (’57) has given extensively to educational institutions in Singapore, China, Hong Kong and the UK. One of the world’s foremost experts on statistics and population, and investment management, Prof Saw believes in the power of education to improve lives. His generosity has had a huge impact, especially on the NUS community, Prof Saw’s alma mater. It is where he has established medals, bursaries, professorships, a research center and the School of Public Health.
Prof Saw, who is Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and President’s Honorary Professor of Statistics at NUS, received his BA and MA degrees from the University of Malaya (NUS’ predecessor) and his PhD degree from the London School of Economics. He has been visiting professor at some of the world’s top universities, advised governments and international organizations, including the United Nations, and written 50 books. In 2013 he was conferred the Public Service Medal by the President of Singapore.
One of the pillars of the NUS community, Prof Saw’s relationship with NUS took root at least 60 years ago, growing shoots and offshoots over the decades. Many of his family are associated with NUS, including his wife, NUS alumna Dr Cheng Siok Hwa, who was a faculty member at the Department of History and his daughter Seang Mei, who is a Professor in the School of Public Health. Prof Saw was a member of the NUS Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2015. He received from NUS the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005, the Outstanding Service Award in 2007, and an Honorary Doctor of Letters in 2015.
NUS established the Saw Swee Hock Centennial Professorship in Law to honour the many contributions of an illustrious alumnus, teacher and philanthropist. The Professorship will enable the Faculty to support a strategic hire to raise the quality of education and research in Law to greater heights.
The Professorship is supported by a gift from Professor Saw Swee Hock.
SAW SWEE HOCK PROFESSORSHIP IN STATISTICS (2003)
Professor Saw Swee Hock (’57) is Singapore’s pioneer statistician and one of the world’s foremost experts on demography. With almost 50 books to his name, Prof Saw is a population policy and investment management pundit whose opinions are sought at home and abroad. A man of great erudition, Prof Saw has excelled in every role he has undertaken – teacher, author, civil servant, researcher, advisor and philanthropist – over an illustrious career spanning almost six decades.
Prof Saw received his BA and MA degrees from the University of Malaya (NUS’ predecessor) in Singapore and his PhD degree in Statistics from the London School of Economics. In 1969 he became the Founding Professor of Statistics at the University of Hong Kong before taking on the position of Founding Chairman of the National Statistical Commission of Singapore in 1972. In 1975 he returned to his alma mater where he was Professor of Statistics till 1991, and currently President’s Honorary Professor of Statistics, Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, and member of the NUS Board of Trustees from 2006 until 2015.
Prof Saw received NUS’ Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2005 and the Outstanding Service Award in 2007. In 2013, he received the President’s Award for Philanthropy and the Public Service Medal, a national honour, in recognition of his many contributions to Singapore. He was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters by NUS in 2015.
NUS established the Saw Swee Hock Professorship in Statistics to honour an outstanding member of the NUS community, who has given so much to his alma mater and his country. The Professorship has enabled the University to attract world-renowned statisticians on short-term visits to the Department of Statistics and Applied Probability at the Faculty of Science, to interact with faculty, guide statistics students and help create a more vibrant research environment.
The Professorship is supported by a gift from Professor Saw Swee Hock.
SEOW LI JIN PROFESSORSHIP IN OTOLARYNGOLOGY (1998)
Dr Seow Li Jin played an important role in the practice of otolaryngology in Singapore. A pioneering ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon, Dr Seow introduced ENT microsurgery to Singapore, paving the way for the high standard of care that is available in the country today.
Born in 1922 in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Seow came to Singapore to study medicine at the King Edward VII School of Medicine, NUS’ predecessor institution. His studies were interrupted by the Japanese Occupation, but he persevered in his dream of being a doctor and, in fact, remained a life-long learner.
The practice of ENT was then in its infancy, and Dr Seow was hungry for knowledge and the latest expertise. This was hard to come by locally. However, while working at Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) ENT section, Dr Seow, then in his early 30s, won a three-year medical scholarship to the UK. This experience, which brought him up close to the latest medical breakthroughs, underscored his belief in continuous training for doctors. Throughout his life, he continued to travel abroad every two years to keep abreast of the latest treatments.
On his return from the UK to SGH, he became Head of ENT in 1958, reorganising the Department and introducing new procedures. He also introduced better septoplasty procedures and improved surgical methods to treat cancer of the maxilla and cancer of the ear, which were previously associated with a high fatality rate. In 1964, he entered private practice.
Dr Seow passed away in 2008.
In recognition of a gift from medical pioneer and alumnus Dr Seow, NUS established the Seow Li Jin Professorship in Otolaryngology. From 2011, the Professorship has been linked to the headship of the Department.
STEPHEN RIADY DISTINGUISHED PROFESSORSHIP (2007)
Dr Stephen Riady, Executive Chairman of OUE Limited, made his first million at the age of 22 while still at university. He was already involved in the businesses set up by his father, Mochtar Riady, and would spend his holidays learning the ropes in Jakarta.
A savvy investor and businessman, he believed in the Government’s vision to make Singapore the best city to work, play, and live. Today, OUE owns a glittering portfolio of iconic landmarks such as Mandarin Orchard Singapore, One Raffles Place, and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, to name a few.
Dr Riady said, “If you see something that you believe in, will you just wait? No.” He has always believed in Singapore and has a longstanding relationship with the city-state. He came here to study at the age of 10. He now lives in Singapore and gives generously to many causes, especially education, humanitarian causes and community development.
Dr Riady, who launched the Stephen Riady Group of Foundations in 2012, attributes his philanthropy to personal and family values, with his father as an inspiration. He is also motivated by his faith to be a channel of blessing to others in the community. “The joy and satisfaction is much greater when you give”, he said. The Stephen Riady Group of Foundations comprises 11 foundations in Singapore and Hong Kong, and has given millions of dollars to various causes in Singapore.
The Stephen Riady Distinguished Professorship was established at NUS Business School to honour an exceptional businessman committed to Singapore. The Professorship will enhance the School’s capacity to nurture future generations of leaders for the global marketplace by attracting distinguished academics to share their expertise and experience. It is also important that their contributions and insights can enhance the research and teaching efforts of the School by collaborating with other faculty members.
The Stephen Riady Distinguished Professorship is supported by a gift from Lippo Group.
SUNG KAH KAY ASSISTANT PROFESSORSHIP (2000)
Few have achieved what Assistant Professor Sung accomplished. An outstanding scholar, researcher, and educator, he completed his undergraduate, graduate school and postgraduate studies in MIT. He attained five degrees from MIT: two SBs from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1986, an SM and EE in 1992 and a PhD from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciencein1996. His seminal work on face-detection technology (Example-based learning for view-based human face) had significant impact on research in that field and has been cited 2,191 times to date. Together with a colleague, he holds a US patent on a technique for image screening and feature detection.
His excellence in research and teaching continued following his tenure in NUS from 1997. Asst Prof Sung won the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award for three consecutive years from the School of Computing. He was also instrumental in revamping and developing the curriculum university wide. His research work has continued to be recognised by his peers, such that his cumulative citations have exceeded 3,000.
Asst Prof Sung tragically lost his life in the Singapore Airlines crash in Taiwan in 2000. He was on his way to Los Angeles to attend the Association for Computing Machinery Multimedia Conference.
In his memory, NUS established the Sung Kah Kay Assistant Professorship with gifts from his family and friends. His parents, Drs Sung Wing Huen and Sung- Yap Siew Khim, said, “To us, it was a meaningful way of making our memory of Kah Kay come alive. His untimely departure was a great loss to us. But besides our loss, Kah Kay’s own loss was his unfulfilled dream of computer research work which was his life and passion.”
Asst Prof Sung’s research interests included computer vision, graphics, machine learning, and neural networks. The Assistant Professorship aims to attract and retain outstanding scholars in Computer Science and strengthen NUS’ position as an intellectual leader in the research and teaching of this subject.