Prof Shih Choon Fong may have left NUS after eight years as President, but he continues to support NUS students. He has made a gift of S$200,000 to students in the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme, a division of NUS Enterprise, which aims to provide an entrepreneurial dimension to NUS. The gift will be used to set up the Odyssey Fund, an endowed fund that will support students and programmes that embody the “Spirit of Odyssey”.
Homer’s Odyssey, Sun Wu Kong’s Journey to the West, as well as the journey of the Atlantic Salmon are stories that Prof Shih likes to tell to describe what he believes is quintessentially important for NUS – and in particular for NOC – that students have the courage to venture forth into the world, to let themselves be tempered by the challenges of global waters, and to return several times back home as alumni to contribute and to renew their communities.
The Odyssey Fund will be administered by CEO of NUS Enterprise and Director of NOC, who will consider inputs from NOC students and alumni in the awarding of grants from the fund. The gift will attract the prevailing dollar-for-dollar government matching grant.
Said Assoc Prof Teo Chee Leong: “NOC students and alumni form a unique group within the larger NUS community. They are selected and given the opportunity to study and work aboard because they showed an entrepreneurial flair and spirit. The vision is that they will return to NUS and Singapore to share and make tangible a portion of that spirit of leadership, enterprise, risk-taking, discovery, collaboration, adventure and achievement which has characterized their time at the NOC.”
He added: “We are truly grateful for this very thoughtful gift from Prof Shih. His act of giving will go much further than providing financial support for NOC students and programmes. By making this gift, he will encourage future generations of NOC alumni, and also supporters at large of the NOC programme, to also contribute to the Fund. So we would like to call on our alumni and friends to follow Prof Shih’s example to grow the Odyssey Fund and its impact.”
Said Prof Shih in his farewell speech, delivered during the Appreciation Dinner held in his honour in November 2008, “Our Overseas College students hold a soft spot in my heart. In them, I see something of my younger self – young people eager to explore intellectually, culturally and experientially”.