By Amelia Tan
HE IS an old Singapore hand who spent four years here as the founding dean of Insead's Asia campus from 1999 to 2002.
Following that, Professor Arnoud De Meyer spent time at Insead's campus in France before moving on to his current job at Cambridge University's Judge Business School. Come September, he will be back in town to take over the reins of Singapore Management University (SMU) from its current president, Professor Howard Hunter.
Prof Hunter, 63, an American who has served as SMU's president for six years, will not leave the university, however. He will continue there as a Professor of Law, teaching both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as providing mentorship to the faculty.
His successor, Prof De Meyer, 55, has spent the last four years heading the Judge Business School.
Prior to that, he spent 23 years in international graduate business school Insead's campuses in France and Singapore, holding senior academic and administrative positions. While in Singapore, the Belgian also served as a member of the Singapore Economic Review Committee and on the board of the Infocomm Development Authority.
A scholar of management studies, Prof De Meyer has published books and papers and consulted on
areas ranging from manufacturing and technology strategy to innovation.
His most recent books include Global Future: The Next Challenge For Asian Business and Inspire To Innovate: Management Of Innovation In Asia.
He holds a Master of Science in electrical engineering, an MBA and a PhD in management from the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Of his new appointment, Prof De Meyer said: 'I am excited to return to Asia to be part of the leadership team, and look forward to playing a part to help SMU realise its full potential in the next few years.'
Prof Hunter, whose six-year term as president extended a year longer than usual, said he decided to step down to return to his 'first loves' - teaching and research - and also to spend more time with his family in the United States. He will be teaching contract law and comparative commercial law.
His key achievements at SMU include setting up the School of Law in 2007 and its graduate law course, the Juris Doctor programme, last year and launching the university's MBA programme.
SMU deputy president Professor Rajendra Srivastava said of Prof Hunter: 'It has been a pleasure working with him. He is the most approachable person I know. He finds time for students, faculty and staff... He is probably one of very few university presidents who teach an organised class on a regular basis.'
On the change in leadership, Prof Hunter said: 'I have full confidence in handing over the baton to Arnoud as the fourth president. His extensive academic and management experience at Insead and Cambridge, his wide international perspective and research interest in Asia will be invaluable to SMU in its next phase of growth and development.'
The chairman of SMU's board of trustees, Mr Ho Kwon Ping, said of the impending changes: 'Arnoud joins us at a pivotal point in SMU's development as the university turns 10 and is gearing up for greater global recognition.
'I am confident that he will lead SMU with distinction at this critical stage of our development.'
He added: 'I would like to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of Professor Howard Hunter... We are delighted he has agreed to continue in his appointment as Professor of Law in SMU, as well as helping with mentoring the law school at its early stage of development.'
This article was first published in The Straits Times.