Oral History Collection


Kwon Ping HO

Publication Type


Date of Interview



Patricia Meyer


Singapore Management University, SMU, Ho Kwong Ping, Chairman of Board of Trustees, history, university founding, beginnings, Singapore higher education, education policy, Tony Tan, radical views, Singapore Institute of Management SIM, third university, credibility, Steve Jobs, new product launch, government funding, Singapore Ministry of Education, university administration, university admissions, National University of Singapore NUS, Nanyang Technological University NTU, business schools, finance faculty, competitive salaries, Singapore faculty, international faculty, composition of university board, Narayana Murthy, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, university campus, faculty recruitment, faculty hiring, convocation, commencement, Low Aik Meng, alumni, student-led activities, marketing, university curriculum, pedagogy, classroom design, student development, non-passive learning, creative thinking, decision making skills, confident graduates, philantrophy, endowment, autonomous university, performance-based pay, salaries, successful experiment, quality of graduates, personal satisfaction, critical thinking, challenge norms, small size, Princeton University, London School of Economics LSE, thought leadership, American-style education


The interview covered: capturing SMU history, view of Singapore education system, Singapore Institute of Management, third university, business schools, business education, faculty recruitment, differentiating SMU, board of trustees, governance, student interaction, job satisfaction, non-profit organisations, inaugural convocation, differentiating SMU, future of SMU.


Chairman, Board of Trustees, SMU, 2000–present
Chairman, Governing Council for Singapore Institute of Management, 1997–2000

One of Singapore’s most prominent businessmen, Mr Ho Kwon Ping, was tapped by Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan in 1997 to lead the effort to establish a new national university which would be autonomous and based on an American-style of education. An unconventional choice, Mr Ho worked with the start-up team headed by Professor Tan Teck Meng and an academic panel of advisors to develop the concept for the new institution. He became chairman of the governing council for the new university in 1997. In December 1998, he was named as chairman of the SMU executive committee and chairman of the campus development committee. Mr Ho has served as chairman of the board of trustees of Singapore Management University since it was incorporated in 2000.

Mr Ho is executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, which owns companies engaged in the development, ownership and operation of hotels, resorts, spas, residential homes, and retail galleries. He is also chairman of MediaCorp Pte Ltd, the national television and radio company of Singapore. He is also actively involved in civil society, currently holding chairmanship, directorship positions and membership on the boards of various international and Singapore organisations. He has been a strong advocate of creativity, risk-taking, independent thinking, and corporate social responsibility. In education he has emphasised the process (rather than the product) of learning.

Mr Ho has been recognised by many organisations over the years. The Singapore Government awarded him the Meritorious Service Medal (2009) by for his significant contribution to the success of the SMU. He was a joint recipient of the Hospitality Lifetime Achievement Award (2009) at the China Hotel Investment Summit. In 2010, he received the American Creativity Association Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011 he received the Conde Nast Traveller World Savers Award in the preservation category.

Mr Ho studied at Tunghai University in Taiwan and Stanford University in the United States. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics and history from the then University of Singapore and was awarded an honorary doctorate of business administration in hospitality management by Johnson & Wales University (USA).


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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