Oral History Collection

Publication Type


Date of Interview



Patricia Meyer


Singapore Management University, SMU, Howard Hunter, Woody Hunter, Ronald Frank, consultation, Emory University, law school, history, university founding, beginnings, university administration, university admissions, university president, Bukit Timah campus, university campus, faculty recruitment, faculty hiring, university admissions, interview applicants, entrance requirements, marketing, university curriculum, long term financial stability, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, overseas exchange programme, overseas community service, overses internship, university fee hike, financial assistance, Work Study Grant, scholarships, student initiative, counter proposal, student association, Ford Lai, flat tuition, Singapore Ministry of Education, autonomous university, budget flexibility, curriculum development flexibility, interdisciplinary research, Islamic law and finance, Centre for Dispute Resolution, Bachelor of Laws degree, Juris Doctor programme, advertisment model, college teaching, university core courses, case method, pedagogy, classroom design, small class size, seminar style teaching, student development, non-passive learning, creative thinking, decision making skills, confident graduates, graduate employment, successful experiment, quality of graduates, openess to opportunities, Mahdev Mohan, Ruth Pagell, academic library, access to information, National University of Singapore NUS, Nanyang Technological University NTU, Singapore University of Technology and Design SUTD, American-style education


The interview covered: first involvement with SMU, roles and responsibilities, tuition fees, autonomous university, law school, Juris Doctor program, undergraduate education, marketing, SMU pedagogy, curriculum, university library,


Professor of Law, SMU, 2004–present
President, SMU, 2004–2010

Described as a passionate educator who truly believes in multidisciplinary education, Professor Howard Hunter served as SMU’s third president from September 2004 to August 2010. During the course of his presidency the university continued its rapid growth—moving to the city campus, opening the law school, expanding postgraduate programmes, building the endowment, and doubling the number of students and faculty. While at SMU he emphasized experiential learning through internships and community service. After stepping down from the presidency, Professor Hunter continues to teach as a member of SMU’s law faculty; his areas of specialisation are contract and commercial law, and American constitutional law.

Professor Howard Hunter practised law in the United States before joining the Emory University law school faculty in 1976. During his twenty-eight years at Emory he served as dean of Emory Law School and interim provost of Emory University. He has been a visiting professor of law at the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary in the US, the University of Hong Kong, and a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Sydney law school in Australia. From 1991 to 1997 he was co-director of the American Law Centre in Moscow. He has lectured at numerous conferences in Asia, Europe, and North America. Currently, he is a recurring visiting professor of law at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

Professor Hunter is the author of Modern Law of Contracts. He has published articles on contract law, the first amendment, and academic freedom. He is a member of the board of editors of the Journal of Contract Law.

Professor Hunter is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the New York State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. He is an associate member of the Law Society of Singapore and a life member of the American Law Institute. He received the Amicus Curiae award from the Supreme Court of Georgia in 1998 for his service to the profession. He served on the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism (1990–2004) and the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Indigent Defence (2000–2004). He was appointed a board member of the American Arbitration Association in May 2006. An active member of Singapore’s business community, Professor Hunter has served on numerous boards in Singapore, such as, the Competition Appeal Board, the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce of Singapore, and the Singapore National Research Foundation.

He received his undergraduate and legal education at Yale University (USA), and was admitted to the bar in 1971.


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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