Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Nanyang Technological University, Koh Boon Hwee, will step down on March 31 after 28 years. 

He 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, who will helm the NTU Board of Trustees from April 1 2021.

During his time at NTU, the former Singtel, DBS and Singapore Airlines chairman saw the university grow from six schools to more than 15 schools in five academic colleges, more than 50 research centres, five autonomous institutes and three campuses in Jurong, Novena and One-North. 

Most notably, Koh also oversaw the establishment of the NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. It was established with a record gift of $150 million from the Lee Foundation which amounted to $400 million after matching by the Singapore government. The school, established in 2010, has already graduated three cohorts of medical doctors.

Koh also advocated for digital technologies to be used in the University’s classrooms to advance the flipped model of classroom teaching, and pushed for administrative reforms of the University to create more efficient and advanced administration systems to support NTU’s growth.

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Under his watch, NTU also saw a huge rise in its rankings. Since 2015, NTU has been ranked between 11th and 13th in QS World University Rankings, a leap from its 74th place in 2010. 

In the Times Higher Education Ranking, which uses a different methodology to QS, NTU is now ranked 47th, up from 174th place in 2010. 

The US News & World Report ranked NTU 38th last year, having improved 87 places from the 125th spot it achieved when this ranking began in 2014.

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 the inaugural Nature Index Young Universities ranking that assesses the world’s top young universities by their research performance, published in 2020, NTU was placed second globally. 

In response, Education Minister Lawrence Wong expressed MOE’s deep appreciation for Mr Koh’s contributions, saying, “I thank Boon Hwee for his many years of dedicated service to NTU. 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.” Wong added. 

Wong also lauded Koh for playing a critical role in advancing NTU’s research efforts by “strengthening the nexus with industry players and public agencies to produce impactful and relevant research,” adding that Koh has also guided NTU in expanding the scope of its Continuing Education and Training programmes in support of the lifelong learning movement, “to better prepare Singaporeans for the future.