Oral History Collection


Teck Meng TAN

Publication Type


Date of Interview



Patricia Meyer


Singapore Management University, SMU, Tan Teck Meng, Tan Chin Tiong, Cham Tao Soon, Evans Road, history, university founding, beginnings, Singapore higher education, education policy, business schools, Tony Tan, Ho Kwon Ping, Ho Thim Seng, Wah Chang House, third university, John Yip, concept paper, Janice Bellace, Ron Frank, Howard Hunter, research university, teaching university, student enrollment numbers, Ministry of Education MOE, student qualities, industry feedback, business and IT, School of Information Systems, university curriculum, interdisciplinary, IT savvy, private university, high degree of autonomy, exceed expectations, success in attracting students, holistic curriculum, university administration, university admissions, interviews for admissions, other criteria for admissions, National University of Singapore NUS, Nanyang Technological University NTU, Singapore Institute of Management SIM, marketing, university curriculum, pedagogy, student development, non-passive learning, confident graduates, eloquent speakers, teaching style, autonomous university, successful experiment, quality of graduates, critical thinking, challenge norms, small size, Juris Doctor programme, study missions, thought leadership, Wharton School, city campus, advertising campaign, Singapore brand, Wharton-SMU Research Centre, practice track faculty, research track faculty, American-style education, sport competitions, campus design


The interview covered: first involvement with SMU, concept for SMU, parent engagement, third university, design of campus, city campus, private university, research, collaboration with Wharton, challenges.


Professor of Accounting, 20002011

Deputy President, SMU, 1999–2001

Head of start-up team for SMU

Professor Tan Teck Meng was a key player in the conceptualising and formation of Singapore’s third university. In 1997, he was appointed chairman of a task force to look into the feasibility of setting up SMU. Subsequently he became SMU’s first employee and was appointed SMU’s founding deputy president (1999—2001).

After his term in administration, Professor Tan returned to teaching in the School of Accountancy. His main research interests were in the area of corporate governance, entrepreneurship, and financial accounting. He was a highly regarded and dedicated teacher, nominated by The Straits Times as one of six ‘star professors’ of SMU in its Scholar’s Choice series of articles. Professor Tan was also keenly involved in ensuring the welfare of students. To this end he set up the Tan Tee Chee and Tsan Kah Ngooh award, named after his parents, to be given annually to students who have demonstrated excellence in co-curricular activities. The Tan Teck Meng Gold Medal Award is given annually to a top member of the graduating class in the School of Accountancy.

From 1990 to 1998 he served as dean of the School of Accountancy and Business at Nanyang Technological University. Professor Tan also served on the boards of a number of organisations in Singapore, including hospitals, schools and government statutory institutions.

In 1997 he was the first Singaporean to receive the Wilford L White Award, the highest recognition given by the International Council for Small Business to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the development of small- and medium-sized businesses. He received the Service to Education Award (2007) from the Ministry of Education, and the Public Service Medal (2009) from the Singapore Government.

He earned his bachelor of accountancy at the then University of Singapore and his master of commerce from the University of New South Wales, Australia. In 1996 he was awarded an honorary PhD by Liaoning University, China.

Professor Tan passed away on 7 July 2011.


Asian Studies | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration

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This is an abridged version of the original interview. Please contact Li Ka Shing Library at libIR@smu.edu.sg for access to the full version of the transcript and/or audio recording.

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