President's State of the University Address 2018

28 Sep 2018
Professor Arnoud De Meyer rides in to round off his eight-year term

There were gasps of surprise, loud cheers and enthusiastic applause as SMU’s fourth President, Professor Arnoud De Meyer rode his bicycle into the SMU Hall for his final President’s State of the University Address, on 28 September 2018. He parked his bike, took off his helmet, bounded up onto the stage and, standing at the lectern, toyed with audience: “Where’s my script? It’s meant to be here!” he jokingly complained. “Ah, there it is,” he said, as an aerial drone buzzed across from the back of the hall to deliver his notes.

It was great entertainment which the senior leaders, faculty members, staff and students in the audience enjoyed enormously; but it also made a point. “You are probably wondering if this is going to become commonplace, drones whizzing around delivering speeches and SMU people making their way across campus on bicycles. Well, with the growth and expansion of the SMU campus, it might well be a good idea! The SMU campus was smaller eight years ago when I had the first opportunity to address many of you at my inaugural address,” he explained, alluding to the addition of the School of Law building, SMU Labs and optimisation of space across the campus in recent years, as well as the upcoming Tahir Foundation Connexion.

He set the tone for his address by going on to praise the strong sense of community and commitment that has inspired him as President. “What struck me, in the first few days of meeting and interacting with SMU faculty, staff and students, was their warmth, generosity, energy and professionalism. I recall making a commitment to stay connected with the ground, and to learn from each and everyone in the SMU family. That indeed was one of the best decisions I had made because since then, I have learnt so much from so many in the SMU community, including faculty, staff, alumni, students and their parents,” he said appreciatively.

Prof De Meyer went on to review the University’s progress towards Vision 2025, the bold vision for the University which he first shared in 2014. He discussed in turn what has been achieved to reach the goals he set for SMU as a “Game Changer in Education”, as a “Catalyst in Research”, “Global Exemplar” and “Professionalism of the Organisation”. Click the link to read a summary of his speech or the full President’s State of the University Address 2018.

Rounding up his speech, Prof De Meyer said, “All that I have shared with you are initiatives and achievements made possible through your dynamism, passion and capacity to give purpose, to make meaningful impact and imagine a better SMU. I urge you to stay curious, agile and innovative.”

His presentation ended with a short video collage of photos and clips from hundreds of thousands taken over the past eight years of Prof De Meyer taking part and interacting with students, faculty and staff in social and sporting events, thought leadership events, key celebrations and community service activities. His gift for connecting with members of the SMU community at every level was seen clearly on the screen and felt warmly by everyone in the hall.

“He is a real people person,” commented Associate Professor of Information Systems (Practice) Tan Hwee Pink after the event. “I think that makes a difference in the way students, faculty and staff perceive him.” His colleague, Associate Professor of Information Systems (Practice) Michelle Cheong added, “I think the President’s key message was that we are a University that will continue to face challenges in terms of getting the right formula to train the next generation of leaders, getting international recognition in terms of research, teaching and practice. But with the contributions from everyone from every department, we can achieve what we set out to do, and grow as a tightly-bonded community.”

“The key message to us all was to stay clear on the purpose of why we started SMU and how we managed to get here. We started off about being different, went on to make a difference and go forward to imagine better.”

Prof Annie Koh, Vice President, Business Development

“He has been a great leader for the last eight years. His focus on people was key and his advice to stay curious, agile and innovative is the foundation for taking SMU forward.”

Mr Sundar Selvam, Vice President, Campus Infrastructure and Services

“This year’s SOU was light hearted and celebratory, with the reminder to stay curious and keep our want-something-do-something attitude”

Ms Yuyun Wirawati Ishak, Head, Information Services, SMU Libraries

“His creation and articulation of Vision 2025 has given excitement and optimism to many of us. We see the future of SMU, where it is going, and how, as a team of like-minded committed individuals, we can achieve what we set out to do.”

Mr Ivan Low, Head, Marketing and Outreach, Postgraduate Professional Programmes

I felt really proud as a member of this University when Professor De Meyer highlighted numerous achievements and accolades attained by SMU faculty, staff and students. Given such a small community, we have achieved a lot within a short history.

Associate Professor of Accounting Gary Pan

“While his presentation was about SMU’s achievements over this last year, he also thanked the SMU faculty, students and staff for giving him the opportunity to become a better leader. He said that it is really the people at SMU who give purpose and bring about meaningful impact.”

Ms Paolina Martin, Senior Associate Director, Office of the President

“You can tell he is passionate about what SMU stands for and has given those working with him a shared sense of purpose.”

Ms Koh Yong Fong, Senior Manager, Student Development, Postgraduate Research Programmes

“It was a great event. Presentation, sequencing and content were perfect. The way Professor De Meyer rode into the hall and had his notes delivered by a drone really broke the ice with the audience”

Mr Kyaw Thura, Senior Manager, Campus Infrastructure and Services

“I joined SMU shortly after Prof De Meyer became the President. Over the years, I have witnessed many positive changes under his leadership. I am appreciative of his efforts and strategic decisions in making SMU a different U. He has laid a strong foundation to propel SMU into its next phase.”

Ms Sandy Gan, Senior Manager, Centre for Teaching Excellence

The key message was how and by how much we have progressed. I think the additional message from the bicycle and drone is how technology and city-living can differentiate SMU from our peers.”

Mr Alex Teo, Business Improvement Specialist

“Beyond the achievements of SMU, what came across most was Professor De Meyer’s appreciation for the SMU community – how nothing could be achieved without the efforts of the staff, faculty, and students. It was heartening to see the importance placed on people in the organisation. His encouragement to keep working on the goals we have – to make them happen – truly encompasses the idea of ‘People Purpose Passion’: appreciating people, nurturing purpose, and inspiring passion.”

Mr Kelvin Lim, President, SMU Students’ Association

 

Read a summary and the script of the President’s State of the University Address 2018

Last updated on 11 Oct 2018.

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