By Leow Si Wan
NANYANG Technological University (NTU) has a new point man for fund raising, engaging the university's alumni and strengthening its ties with the community.
He is Mr Chew Kheng Chuan, 51, who now assumes the title of chief university advancement officer.
The newly created post is aimed at giving oomph to NTU's fund-raising capability, developing its base of supporters and champions and building its brand, so it can become a 'great global university'.Mr Chew, a committee member of the Singapore chapter of the Association of Fund-raising Professionals, is no greenhorn in this game.
He comes to NTU after five years of leading fund-raising efforts at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
It has been reported that on his watch, NUS raised $1.5 billion - more than four times what it raised in the previous 12 years.
Before the NUS job, he and his wife, Dr Chia Kwok Ying, ran their own business producing publications, annual reports and designing identities for brands such as the Banyan Tree and Channel NewsAsia. He has his work cut out for him at NTU.
He explained that the public perceives the university as a strong science and engineering institution.
But in reality, the university has also gained competence in other areas such as business, communications, the humanities, the media and research.
He said that more than a few people he has spoken to have noted the 'gap' between NTU's brand and its reality.
The university was better than its brand, he added.
'This is an area which I have some professional interest and competence... and feel that it is another contribution I can make,' said the old boy of Anglo-Chinese School and the first Singaporean admitted to Harvard College.
'Making a contribution' is a theme he returned to more than once in his interview with The Straits Times.
He is a long way from the 29-year-old who was twice arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act between 1987 and 1989 for his involvement in the Marxist conspiracy that sought to overthrow the Government here.
Altogether, he spent 13 months in detention, but that part of his life is water under the bridge.
Political activism is over for him, he said.
It has been about eight months since he left his post at NUS - time enough for him 'to reflect, recharge and renew myself for the new challenge'.
After speaking to various institutions, he decided to take the NTU job because of his 'strong and special affinity for academia'.
He said he also identified with president Su Guaning's vision of turning NTU into the first choice for those with ideals and passion.
Mr Chew said: 'It is good to know there are other ways to do one's duty as a citizen, and work towards the greater good - like advancing NTU, for a start!'
This article was first published in The Straits Times.