Indian-origin professor Subra Suresh nominated as President of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore

NTU Singapore
Prof. Subra Suresh

Professor Subra Suresh, an eminent Indian-origin scientist from America – who is also an engineer and entrepreneur chosen in 2010 by then-US President Barack Obama to lead the US National Science Foundation (NSF) – will succeed Professor Bertil   Andersson as the 4th President of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

Prof Suresh will begin his presidency tenure on 1 January 2018, when Prof Andersson retires from the role he has held since 2011.

According to Chairman of the NTU Board of Trustees, Mr Koh Boon Hwee (Chairman of Agilent Technologies, Inc., former Chairman of both Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank),  the succession planning for the position started last year and in line with international best practices of universities, NTU had conducted a global search for its next president in Singapore and internationally. The eight-member search committee chaired by Mr Koh unanimously selected Prof Suresh for the top role at NTU, and his appointment has been strongly endorsed by all members of the NTU Board of Trustees.

Mr. Koh further said: “Prof Suresh understands the Singapore higher education and research systems, as well as those in North America, Europe, China and India, having actively engaged with various public and private agencies and boards, and as a member of a number of national academies of science and engineering.  He is an educator, scientist, advisor, inventor, entrepreneur and leader all rolled into one. The Board of Trustees and I are delighted that he has agreed to take the top job to lead NTU in its next phase of development.”

NTU Singapore is one of the world’s leading universities recognised by several independent global academic ranking organisations and metrics. In its QS World University Rankings this year, the Quacquarelli Symonds group placed NTU Singapore 11th in the world and the best in Asia. It was also named the world’s fastest rising young university by Times Higher Education in 2015. NTU’s campus is frequently named among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world.

Prof Suresh joins NTU from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) where he was President for the last four years. Carnegie Mellon has been credited for its contribution to the transformation of the city of Pittsburgh from primarily a steel producer to a diverse economy through advances in technology, services and medicine. A current independent director of HP Inc, Palo Alto and an advisor to the senior leadership of Siemens AG, Germany on science, technology and innovation, he served as Director of the NSF from 2010 to 2013. In that leadership role, he oversaw an annual budget of US$7 billion that supports fundamental research and innovation in all fields of science and engineering and related education in more than 2,000 institutions across the US and in a number of global research facilities from the Arctic to Antarctica. Before NSF, he was Dean of Engineering and Vannevar Bush Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Prof. Suresh has 25 years of relations in Singapore

“I have had a very special affinity for Singapore and numerous interactions with colleagues here in academia, industry and government. It has been a privilege to witness and also participate in the impressive rise of both Singapore and NTU on the international stage,” , Prof Suresh said on his appointment as President of NTU.

“I am excited to have the honour of leading NTU, with its rich history, heritage and beautiful, cosmopolitan campus in a vibrant city state serving as a global hub for finance, commerce, education, research and culture at the crossroads of Asia, at a time when Asia is poised to take a significant leadership role in shaping the 21st century. I look forward to working with the NTU community, including its outstanding faculty and administrative staff, 200,000+ global alumni, trustees, and exceptional students to realise the great opportunities that lie ahead.  I am also grateful to Prof Andersson for his very impactful leadership of NTU Singapore for the past six years,” added Prof. Suresh.

Prof Suresh has had numerous high-level interactions with Singapore for nearly a quarter century. He has served as a consultant to the National Science and Technology Board, on the Advisory Boards or Councils of A*STAR Institutes and several schools at the National University of Singapore. He held the inaugural Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Chair for visiting appointments at NTU Singapore from 2006 to 2010.

Prof Suresh was also the principal faculty coordinator from MIT for the formation of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) centre in 2006. SMART is the first centre in the National Research Foundation’s Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE)

While serving as Dean of Engineering at MIT, Prof Suresh continued his scholarly work in partnership with colleagues from NUS and NTU Singapore in the first SMART centre programme on infectious diseases, which led to several dozen research articles in leading international journals.

For the past several years, he has served as a member of both the Academic Research Council and the International Academic Advisory Panel of Singapore’s Ministry of Education.

Outstanding Achievements at Carnegie Mellon

At Carnegie Mellon, Prof Suresh launched a historic campus infrastructure development effort including the creation of a new quadrangle to house the largest building on campus partly funded by a US$67 million gift from an alumnus. Supported by a US$31 million gift from another alumnus, he worked with the campus community to establish the Swartz Centre for Entrepreneurship. Under his leadership, these initiatives were supported by four of the most successful fundraising years in the university’s history, which also saw an increase of 55% in the university’s total endowment.  He worked with the university community to secure more than US$200 million in new permanent endowment specifically for Presidential Fellowships and Scholarships, a programme he established in 2014 to provide financial support to top students.