By Sherlyn Seah
President of Singapore Madam Halimah Yacob began her appointment as NTU’s Chancellor last month, amid a warm response from the student community.
As Chancellor, Madam Halimah will preside over convocation ceremonies and confer degrees, as well as represent NTU as an ambassador to the external community. The position was previously held by former president Dr Tony Tan.
Madam Halimah made her inaugural visit to the campus as Chancellor on 17 Jan, when students got the opportunity to interact with her up close.
Speaking at a welcome address, NTU Board of Trustees chairman Koh Boon Hwee expressed his gratitude to the president for committing her time to the university.
“The Chancellor works to raise NTU’s profile and advance its interest nationally and internationally. We are deeply grateful for the time Madam Halimah will be committing to NTU’s affairs,” said Mr Koh.
Hosted by NTU President Subra Suresh, Madam Halimah’s campus tour included visits to the new North Hill and Nanyang Crescent Halls of Residence.
Binjai Hall’s Junior Common Room Committee (JCRC) president Eric Zhang was one of those who helped plan her visit. Zhang said meeting President Halimah was a “very rewarding moment”.
“I was trembling when I shook her hand and welcomed her to the North Hill cluster. She could sense my nervousness but she was patient and listened as I shared about the facilities there.”
Madam Halimah was also introduced to the Residential Education (RE) programme, where students living on campus can participate in workshops beyond their formal curriculum, in special classrooms located within the hall cluster.
To demonstrate this, residents from Halls of Residence 10 and 11 prepared homemade local delicacies for Madam Halimah to try in the REfresh kitchen at Tanjong Hall. The REfresh kitchen is a fully-equipped kitchen for classes and workshops on halal cooking and halal food demonstrations.
Hall 11’s JCRC recreational secretary Javier Ng, who was involved in the food-making and presentation, said he was honoured to have met Singapore’s president in person.
“It was great to know that our president actually walked the grounds of our school herself, to appreciate the initiatives we have introduced to make this hall a better place to live in,” said the second-year student from the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering.
“I’m very glad that we have Singapore’s president as the Chancellor of our school. It would definitely bring more awareness to what NTU does as an institution,” he said.
Another highlight of the tour was Madam Halimah’s visit to Tamarind Hall for the planting of a tamarind tree to commemorate the hall’s official opening.
Tamarind Hall’s JCRC special project officer Daniel Lim said that he was looking forward to having Madam Halimah as part of the NTU community.
The first-year student from the School of Materials Science and Engineering said: “She will be an influential figure for us — a cornerstone to help NTU cement our name as one of the top universities for education and research.”
While many other NTU students did not get the chance to meet Madam Halimah in person, they still expressed their anticipation to her appointment as Chancellor.
“From being a distant political figure, I can see her in a more personal light since she is directly involved in the university I am enrolled in,” said Brenlyn Ng, a second-year student from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.
It would be heartening to see Madam Halimah representing NTU in external events, said second-year student Jessica Lee from the School of Humanities.
“As Chancellor, President Halimah will boost NTU’s prominence and reputation in the region.
“For now, her taking the time to visit us and participate in activities already shows her support for the school. I look forward to her involvement in NTU affairs,” she said.