Oral History Collection

Publication Type


Date of Interview



Patricia Meyer


Singapore Management University, SMU, Low Aik Meng, working committee, history, university founding, beginnings, Singapore higher education, education policy, business schools, Tony Tan, Tan Teck Meng, third university, Singapore Institute of Management SIM, Tan Chin Tiong, Wah Chang House, university office, student qualities, university curriculum, private university, high degree of autonomy, board of trustees, university logo, exceed expectations, success in attracting students, holistic curriculum, university administration, university admissions, interviews for admissions, other criteria for admissions, special talent, core values, CIRCLE values, freshman team building, Outward Bound School, first classes, carnival atmosphere, pioneer students, student clubs, student participation, Office of Student Life, peer helpers, student counsellors, Council of Student Conduct, SMU Ambassadorial Corps, best ambassdors, positive image, community service, student housing, Prinsep Street, Chip Bee Gardens, Farrer Road, residential life, student financial assistance, overseas student program loans, Russell Tan, valedictorian, Tan Lay Khim, National University of Singapore NUS, Nanyang Technological University NTU, marketing, university curriculum, pedagogy, classroom design, student development, non-passive learning, creative thinking, decision making skills, confident graduates, teaching style, autonomous university, successful experiment, quality of graduates, city campus, American-style education


The interview covered: first involvement with SMU, role and responsibilities, curriculum, student experience, first freshman team building camp, first classes, pioneer class, student activities, student ambassadors, community service, student hostel, student financial assistance.


Founding Dean of Students, SMU, 2000–2011

Member of SMU start-up team

An SMU ‘pioneer’, Professor Low Aik Meng was one of the first three faculty to join the start-up team for the new university in 1998. Curriculum development was one his early responsibilities. Professor Low is best known for his next assignment—in 2000 he was appointed as SMU’s founding dean of students, a role in which he was responsible for all aspects of student life outside the classroom. In keeping with the aims of the start-up team, SMU aimed to provide students with a holistic educational experience which included leadership and teambuilding skills, as well as the development of a sense of ethics and social responsibility.

Professor Low championed the concept of an ‘SMU family’ and worked to build a close-knit community with fewer barriers between students and faculty. He took a personal interest in student welfare in matters ranging from freshmen teambuilding camp, to financial assistance, to service projects, clubs and activities. He retired from SMU in July 2011.

He established two annual awards, the Dean of Students Award and the AM Low Trailblazer Award. These awards are given to students who have made significant contributions—beyond academic studies— to the university or the community at large.

Professor Low worked as an accountant before joining academia in 1974. He was a faculty member at the University of Singapore, the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, before joining SMU. His teaching focus was financial accounting. He served as vice dean of accountancy and business administration at NUS, and as vice dean and director of the MBA programme at Nanyang Business School, NTU. He has published journal articles and book chapters on topics such as auditing, entrepreneurship, accounting and postgraduate education.

In recognition of his dedicated service, the Singapore Government awarded him the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2010.

Low Aik Meng holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the then University of Singapore and a master of commerce from the University of New South Wales, Australia.


Asian Studies | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration

Page Numbers



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.

Streaming Inteview