Let’s shape SMU’s future together, says Prof Arnoud De Meyer
In his third State of the University Address delivered on 21 September 2012, SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer gave an update on the progress made by the University and shared his vision, direction and strategies in taking SMU to a higher level of excellence.
Prof De Meyer also called on each and every one in the University community to embrace the “want something, do something” culture which will help SMU stay ahead in a competitive global landscape and urged them to see themselves as an owner of SMU and play a greater role in shaping its future.
Summary of key points of the speech
There have been great momentum and success in our efforts in the three key areas of Education, Research, and Building Reputation and Internationalising the SMU Brand over 2011/2012.
(a) Notwithstanding intense competition from new players in the local university landscape, we achieved a spectacular intake of 1,930 students through the collaborative efforts and the SMU can-do spirit, let’s roll-up-our-sleeves attitude of several teams. These included the Admissions Office, Corporate Communications & Marketing, Finance, Vice Provost (Undergraduate), Facilities Management, Student Life, Registrar and our six Schools.
(b) In constantly reviewing our curriculum for a distinctive holistic undergraduate education experience that is relevant, and for students to be future-ready, we launched three new second majors from the School of Social Sciences, and a sport elective developed with Singapore Sports Council. The second majors are International and Asian Studies, Public Policy and Public Management, and Arts and Culture Management.
(c) At SMU, we value teaching excellence and take great pride in the quality of our faculty and the important role they play in making an impact in teaching and learning. Hand-in-hand with excellent teaching is also the support from our Centre for Teaching Excellence which promotes new forms of pedagogy. Recently launched was the state-of-the-art Virtual Exhibition Site, an online interactive learning hub for our faculty to discuss innovative teaching practices.
(d) We set up the Office of Postgraduate Professional Programmes and this year, our postgraduate intake registered a robust 60% increase. We will also cross the landmark number of 1,000 postgraduate students on our campus. To-date, we have 18 masters and PhD programmes with several of them borne out of foresight of what the industry needs, and we launched them expeditiously with a critical first-mover advantage.
(e) We also graduated our pioneering Executive MBA, which has the most senior student class profile in the world with the current intake consisting of 68% C-suite executives. Such quality will help shape the SMU EMBA into a leading premium brand in Asia.
(a) Our focus on our three Areas of Excellence (AoEs) – Financial Markets and Institutions; Analytics for Business, Consumer and Social Insight; and Innovation & Entrepreneurship have gained some traction:
• Our Lee Kong Chian School of Business is ranked 52nd worldwide and 3rd in Asia by University of Texas, Dallas.
• Our School of Economics ranks 66th in the world and 3rd in Asia by the Tilburg University Top 100 Worldwide Economics Research 2012.
• Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics has produced an early detection system for asset price bubbles, and created the inflation expectations index in collaboration with Mastercard and the corporate governance index for the Securities Investors’ Association of Singapore.
• SMU Living Analytics Research Centre and Livelabs have ramped up so that they can contribute significantly towards Singapore’s aspiration of becoming globally recognised as a hub for Consumer and Social Analytics.
• SMU Case Writing has to-date some 28 cases offering Asian insights and perspectives, including those for company training and executive development.
(b) Research at SMU is unique because of our practice-driven research and research-driven practice. We do practice-relevant work that impacts education, industry and society.
(3) Building SMU Reputation, Internationalising Brand and External Recognition
(a) Just as our success in research and case writing contribute to building our academic reputation, so do our initiatives in thought leadership and organisation of key international conferences. Several world renowned speakers such as Dan Breznitz and Ezra Vogel have delivered keynote talks at SMU, and Paul Krugman will be visiting SMU later this year.
(b) In helping to raise the profile of SMU, several of our faculty have also appeared on Channel NewsAsia’s Think Tank and I represented the University on their Perspectives programme twice.
(c) We made good progress in sealing several significant partnerships with top universities and industry within two emerging powerhouses of China and India, with leading universities in Europe, and developed several new collaborations in Singapore.
(d) Our students also play their part in helping to build SMU’s reputation and internationalise the SMU brand through their participation and success in numerous local and global competitions.
(e) SMU was awarded the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) accreditation, making our University and business school the youngest to be awarded both AACSB and EQUIS accreditation.
(f) The Ministry of Education’s Quality Assurance Framework for Universities Panel commended SMU for our continued progress in many areas including engaging industry experts in University governance and guidance; strategic plan with focused areas that were good fit for University; efficient and effective resource allocation; the 3-track system for faculty; innovative pedagogy; and active development of collaborations.
Our Future: Making A Greater Impact
As SMU forges ahead in working towards realising our strategic goals, we want to make a greater impact through our transformative, future-ready educational experience for students, and through our research and practice that are relevant, enhance industry, and through outreach efforts that benefit the global community.
(1) Community Service: In 2011, close to 4,500 SMU students were involved in some community service endeavours. Two thirds participated in local projects and a third in 180 overseas projects in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. These efforts are part of SMU’s hallmark of developing heart, hard and soft skills through our University educational experience.
(2) Continual Curriculum Review: We are continually making adjustments and refreshing our modules and electives to ensure the quality of our offerings. Students also enjoy the option of choice, and 70% of our students take a double degree or second major. We are exploring ways of recognising learning beyond the classroom.
(3) Postgraduate: We will embark on a university-wide growth plan for Postgraduate and Executive Development Programmes.
(4) Social Sciences and Humanities Research: Through our faculty expertise and the collaboration of our Schools – business, economics, law, information systems and social sciences – SMU is well-positioned to help Singapore in building up research to address issues pertaining to Asian societies and markets; management of multi-ethnic social compacts; challenges and opportunities facing global cities and comparative studies of governance models and practices.
(5) A Greater Sense of Community: For coordination and collaboration to occur at a large scale across our University, we need to have a refinement of mindset, from silos and shorter-term goals to “SMU-first” and a mix of short-term goals and long-term capacity, and culture building. Each individual in our 8,000 strong campus community is both a stakeholder and an owner of SMU. When everyone takes ownership, our University will be transformed into a community that supports one another in our quest for excellence. SMU already has a “want something, do something” culture that evolved amongst its community and we want to further promote this culture to transcend the entire organisation.
(6) Building Organisational Vitality: Several New Initiatives
(a) Centre for Management Practice: For faculty development and coaching management with opportunities for faculty to translate their research through case writing and editorial articles, and for them to be involved in corporate engagement.
(b) Enhancing Operational Strength: Through our Business Process Improvement Programme or Six Sigma Initiative; Responsibility Centre Accounting; Management Development Programme.
(7) Building Global Alliances: As our University has moved into the reputation building phase, it is critical for us to build global partnerships and alliances with like-minded reputable universities so as to leverage on complementary strengths. When SMU becomes part of a global consortium with strong university partners, there is great potential for us to work on new education, research and exchange programmes that have no geographical boundaries.