Yale Brings CUC-initiated Singapore Connection to Fruition

Yale University wants to bring the liberal arts college to Singapore. In 2013, Yale plans to open one of Asia’s first liberal arts colleges in collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore’s Ministry of Education. What has some Claremont heads turning, though, is that as recently as two years ago the Claremont University Consortium (CUC) was considering doing the same.

In 2008, senior CUC administrators and faculty took a trip to Singapore. The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore’s Ministry of Education, which had selected CUC as “one of the premiere models of liberal arts education” approached them with the idea of establishing a liberal arts college there in a joint venture, according to Robert Walton, CEO of CUC.

Differences of opinion over how the new college should be governed led to the end of negotiations in 2009, Walton said. One issue was whether the college should be self-governing, as the Claremont Colleges are, or whether it should be under the jurisdiction of NUS. CUC representatives thought that having the president of the new college report to NUS would be “inappropriate in the Claremont governance model,” Walton said.

The parties involved also disagreed over how much land should be allocated to the college. Claremont delegates thought that the amount that the Ministry of Education was offering would not be sufficient for constructing a college that could “provide a residential experience that would be comparable to that found in the Claremont educational experience,” Walton said.

Claremont representatives were also concerned about the degree of academic freedom that would be available in Singapore. Citizens of Singapore do not have freedom of assembly, but they are allowed to critique government policies.

After discussions between CUC and NUS fell through, NUS contacted Yale regarding a possible collaboration in June 2009.

“My impression is that… our involvement with NUS grew out of the Claremont thing,” said Charles David Bailyn, a Yale Professor of Astronomy who is set to serve as Inaugural Dean of Faculty at the new Yale-NUS college.

Yale and NUS ultimately resolved the question of governance by deciding that the new institution would be an “autonomous college of NUS,” according to the Yale Daily Bulletin. Students of the college will have their degrees awarded by NUS. An article in the Yale Daily News reported that the board of directors will be composed of an equal number of Yale and NUS administrators.

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