Koh Boon Hwee, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), will be stepping down on March 31, 2021 after an illustrious 28 years, an official release stated.
The former chairman of Singtel, Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank, the prominent businessman and veteran technology investor is also the chairman of Altara Partners, Rippledot Capital, Sunningdale Tech and Agilent Technologies, among other companies.
“Boon Hwee has been at the heart of NTU’s phenomenal progress through the years. We will miss his visionary leadership, sharp strategic insights and wise counsel. However, I am confident that we will continue to benefit from his passionate engagement with NTU in other ways for many more years to come," Professor Subra Suresh, NTU president said.
A strong advocate of digital technologies, Koh has supported NTU’s adoption of the flipped classroom model of learning. Moving away from mass lectures, lessons have been digitised so that students can access course content online and spend their time in person with professors and classmates discussing solutions that explore their application of concepts and knowledge.
He also pushed for administrative reforms of the University to create more efficient and advanced administration systems to support NTU’s growth.
“The work is not yet complete but having started on the greater adoption of digital technologies years before, it facilitated the University’s move quickly into online learning, e-exams, virtual meetings and virtual events, and kept the NTU community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Koh said.
Koh joined the Board of the then-NTU Council in 1991 and was appointed its Chairman in 1993, two years after NTU was inaugurated as a university following the merger of Nanyang Technological Institute (NTI) and the National Institute of Education (NIE). After NTU became an autonomous university in 2006, he was appointed the founding Chairman of the NTU Board of Trustees.
Singapore's Minister for Education Lawrence Wong expressed the Ministry’s deep appreciation for Koh’s contributions, saying, “As the longest-serving university Chairman for almost three decades, Boon Hwee’s contributions to NTU and the university landscape have been immense. He has steered NTU through major milestones such as its formation in the 1990s and its transition to become an autonomous university in 2006. Under his visionary leadership, NTU has grown into a world-class institution with high standards in education."
Koh hands over the Chairmanship of the University to Goh Swee Chen, chairman of the National Arts Council, Institute of HR Professionals, and Global Compact Network Singapore. She joined the NTU Board of Trustees in August 2019 and also sits on the boards of CapitaLand, Singapore Airlines, SP Group Ltd. and Woodside Energy Ltd (Australia).
“It is an honour for me to succeed Boon Hwee as the Chairman of NTU Board of Trustees. He has done an extraordinary job in stewardship and steering the development of the NTU in the last three decades. I am committed to work with members of the university community to further strengthen NTU’s global and societal impact," she said.
Under Koh’s stewardship, NTU made a paradigm shift from being a predominantly teaching-led university to becoming a research-intensive university, after its corporatisation.
As a result of the strong academic foundations it has laid, the University has been on an upward trajectory in international league tables in recent years. Since 2015, NTU has been ranked between 11th and 13th in QS World University Rankings, a leap from its 74th place in 2010.
NTU has also kept its No 1 spot for seven consecutive years in QS’ league of the world’s best young universities below 50 years old.
In an internal message announcing his stepping down as Chairman, Koh reminded the NTU community to appreciate the heritage of the former Nanyang University, on which grounds NTU’s campus is built on, and its contributions to Singapore’s education journey.