Sunday, September 26, 2021

Few Senior Figures had a Voice in Yale-NUS and USP Merger Decision

Story | Xie Yihui (she/her/hers), Editor-in-Chief and Ryan Yeo (he/him/his), Managing Editor
Photo | Darren Ang (he/him/his)

Many senior figures at Yale University, NUS, and Yale-NUS College did not have a say in the decision to merge Yale-NUS with the University Scholars Programme, including the Yale-NUS Governing Board.

In an email exchange with The Octant today, President of Yale-NUS College Tan Tai Yong explained that the merger decision was only shared with Governing Board for information, and it was under “procedural obligations” to endorse Yale-NUS’s management and transition plans in the next few years.

Prof. Tan did not comment when asked about the breakdown of votes from the Yale-NUS Governing Board.

The partnership agreement between Yale and NUS states that either party is allowed to withdraw unilaterally in 2025 with at least one year’s notice. Tan confirmed that Peter Salovey, President of Yale University, would have preferred to continue the development of Yale-NUS, but respected NUS’s direction as the decision had been finalized by the time NUS approached him. 

Meanwhile, the decision-making at the NUS side remained opaque. The Octant reached out to Bernard Tan, Senior Vice Provost (Undergraduate Education) and Erle Lim, Vice Provost (Teaching Innovation & Quality). The former stated that he was not yet involved in the New College after the decision was announced and the latter said he was the wrong person to ask for this information.

Tan Tai Yong could not comment on the Ministry of Education’s involvement in the decision, because he was “not privy to it.” 

When asked about possible actions of recourse regarding the unpopular decision, Tan was not optimistic: “I don’t think there is a realistic possibility of reversing the decision. That ship has sailed.” 

“The two main stakeholders who would have to change their minds for a revision to happen are NUS and Yale.”

At press time, The Octant is awaiting responses from other key NUS administrators. 

CORRECTION: The earlier version of the article mistakenly stated that Yale-NUS Governing Board was under procedural obligations to endorse the merger of Yale-NUS and USP and that Prof. Tan Tai Yong believed that the lack of possibility of recourse is due to little participation of key stakeholders in the merger decision. We have also updated the article to reflect the comments from two senior NUS administrators more accurately. We apologize for the mistakes and the lack of clarity.


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