Yale-NUS hires another 20 academics

Yale-NUS hires another 20 academics
L-R: Professor Steven Bernasek, director of Yale-NUS' science division, Professor Mark Joyce, director of art, and Professor Tok Eng Soon, who also teaches in NUS' physics department

Singapore's first liberal arts college has drawn another 20 academics from fields such as political science and art.

This brings the Yale-NUS College's faculty count to 70, as it prepares to move in July to its permanent Dover campus, from its temporary location at the National University of Singapore's University Town.

In July, another five to 10 faculty members will join the college, a tie-up between the United States Ivy League institution and the National University of Singapore.

It plans to have 110 faculty members in five to six years.

Despite initial concerns about restrictions here over issues such as academic freedom, it received more than 2,000 applications for faculty positions in this academic year, which ends in May. This is similar to previous years.

Yale-NUS president Pericles Lewis told The Straits Times: "Sometimes, people ask what the situation is.

"But if they talk to other faculty, they realise there is a strong culture of academic freedom here... (The faculty) come from all over - most of them have recently done their post-doctoral fellowships - so they have done their PhD at top institutions, usually in the US or Britain. The calibre of successful candidates is very high."

He added: "They have been competing with a lot of other people and, often, we get candidates who have very good job offers at top colleges and universities in the US, or their home countries."

One such academic is Professor Steven Bernasek, an experimental chemist who has been with Princeton University in the US for about four decades. Starting in July, he will head Yale-NUS' science division as its director.

Professor Mark Joyce, an award-winning visual artist who has been appointed as its director of art, oversees the development of the arts curriculum and arts-related co-curricular activities.

He has held positions at institutions such as the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Ireland.

Assistant Professor Nozomi Naoi, who did her graduate work at Harvard University's department of history of art and architecture, will join the humanities department.

The college has 14 faculty members who are Singaporeans or permanent residents. They include Associate Professor Tok Eng Soon, who did his PhD in semiconductor materials at Imperial College London, and is also in the NUS physics department.

As part of its hiring process, Yale-NUS brings about 100 faculty members - the top 5 per cent of applicants chosen after Skype interviews - to its campus here for a two-day workshop.

At these sessions, they present their research and meet existing faculty members and students.

"We are assessing not just their research... but also, we assess their ability to participate in building up the community," said Prof Lewis.

Yale-NUS, which promises a broad-based education across different disciplines, will continue to raise its student numbers, with a third batch of 190 this year.

Classes start in August. This is up from 177 last year and 155 in 2013. It will reach an annual class size of 250 students over the next few years.

Students are assigned to one of three residential colleges, named after trees, following the NUS tradition.

The ones at Yale-NUS are called Saga, Elm and Cendana. The elm tree is associated with New Haven in the US, the site of Yale University.



This article was first published on March 3, 2015.
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