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It has been an extremely gratifying first year for SMU. From scratch, we saw a curriculum developed, a more than credible faculty assembled, a campus bloom from the ground in record time, and a small group of bright and very promising young individuals set the standard as the historic pioneer intake of students. How did we even begin to persuade sponsors or students to come on board with us? We had no track record, no alumni, not even an existing undergraduate population. Yet, industry support was unabashedly warm from the time Singapore’s third university was announced. First year application for places was over six times subscribed. How did we do it? I believe several factors came into play. Government support undeniably played a large part. Even though we were set up as a private university, Singapore’s first, SMU was initiated by the Singapore government to spur innovation in teaching, world-class research, and groom leaders and technopreneurs for the New Economy. It was in the national interest for SMU to succeed and government support came fast and furious, notably in the form of financial aid, with a $50 million one-time grant towards the endowment fund and a further 3:1 matching grant for other endowment fund donations.

The Wharton connection was also instrumental in the set-up. To be linked up with the best business school in the United States was a tremendous boost in our favour. It gave our programmes immediate credibility and provided the launch pad for us to recruit world-class faculty and attract top students. The icing on the cake was the appointment of former Deputy Dean of Wharton, Prof Janice Bellace, as President of SMU. During the university’s infancy stage, she provided the critical leadership and ensured its path to success by setting the tone and direction


Singapore Management University, annual report, higher education, Singapore


Asian Studies | Higher Education


Singapore Management University


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