Oral History Collection



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Patricia Meyer


Singapore Management University, SMU, Janice Bellace, Wharton School, international engagement, history, university founding, beginnings, university administration, university admissions, university president, Ho Kwon Ping, Wah Chang House, university offices, Goldbell Towers, Bukit Timah Campus, National Institute of Education NIE, Urban Redevelopment Authority URA, Tan Teck Meng, Evans Road, city campus, Marina Bay, Bras Basah Road, Stamford Road, National Library Board, outsourced library service, university campus, faculty recruitment, faculty hiring, faculty evaluation, risk taking, university admissions, interview applicants, entrance requirements, British education model, American education model, differentiation, marketing, university curriculum, long term financial stability, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Singapore Ministry of Education, autonomous university, groundbreaking ceremony, convocation, Suntec City, convocation gowns, blue and gold, business school, accountancy school, economics school, law school, Bachelor of Laws degree, Juris Doctor programme, advertisment model, Tsui Kai Chong, dean of business school, college teaching, SMU Project Primate, organg utan, Club Zouk, pedagogy, classroom design, small class size, seminar style teaching, student development, non-passive learning, creative thinking, decision making skills, confident graduates, graduate employment, Low Aik Meng, Ruth Chiang, successful experiment, quality of graduates, openess to opportunities, London School of Economics, Singapore tertiary education, National University of Singapore NUS, Nanyang Technological University NTU, Singapore University of Technology and Design SUTD, SMU Board of Trustees, John Niland, American-style education


The interview with Janet Bellace covered: first involvement with SMU, collaboration with Wharton School, roles and responsibilities, first building, risks and opportunities, founding team, faculty recruitment, board of trustees, government relationship, groundbreaking for city campus, convocation, student interaction, student feedback, graduate placement, milestones, future of SMU.


Board of Trustees, SMU, 2001–present
Founding President, SMU, 1999–2001

“Thank you, Janice!” read the front page tribute article of the October 2001 smuhub newsletter. It went on to describe some of Professor Janice Bellace’s contributions as consultant and then founding president of SMU. The article noted that when Janice arrived as president, “…there was only a handful of faculty and staff, no students, no campus, no programmes, and even office space had to be ‘borrowed’ from the chairman of the board of trustees.” Professor Bellace obviously viewed these constraints as challenges to be overcome. With a firm commitment from the Singapore Government, Professor Bellace oversaw planning, faculty hiring, and student recruitment for the new university. It opened with the launch of the business school in August 2000, followed by the launch of the accountancy school in August 2001.

After stepping down as president of SMU, Professor Bellace chaired the Wharton-SMU Research Centre and served as vice-chair of academic affairs on the SMU Board of Trustees.

Janice Bellace is currently the Samuel Blank Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She joined the University of Pennsylvania faculty in 1977 and has held senior executive and leadership positions; including associate provost (2004–2006) and deputy provost (2006–2007). Educated in law, her research interests are in the field of labour and employment law, particularly international labour law.

Professor Bellace holds positions on labour-related committees, and advisory board positions in global institutions and agencies. She is a member of the International Labour Organisation’s Committee of Experts, and serves on the executive boards of the International Industrial Relations Association and the US branch of the International Society for Labour Law and Social Security. Professor Bellace is a member of the Public Review Board of the United Auto Workers and senior editor of Comparative Labour Law & Policy Journal.

Professor Bellace received her bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. She holds a master of science degree from the London School of Economics, UK.


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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